By Amber Smith
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This is by far one of the most popular recipes I’ve ever made commercially and at home. It’s a copycat recipe after a popular Chinese restaurant chain in the states called PF Changs. I’m not sure if there are any franchises here in Canada, nor have I tasted anything that comes even close from any take-out spots, so be sure to print it off and keep it somewhere safe because it’s a keeper!!!
I’m including the original recipe plus my personal tweaks below. Considering the easy prep and few ingredients, you could really have this on the table with some sticky rice and steamed veggies in 25 minutes.
MONGOLIAN BEEF RECIPE
This really does look and taste like PF Chang's Mongolian Beef.
2 tsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp minced ginger
1 tbsp chopped garlic
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 lb flank steak
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 large green onions
1. Make the sauce by heating 2 tsp of oil in medium saucepan over med/low heat. Don't get the oil too hot or you'll get spattered when adding the other liquids. Add ginger and garlic to the pan and quickly add the soy sauce and water before the garlic scorches. Dissolve the brown sugar in the sauce, then raise the heat to about medium and boil the sauce for 2-3 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Remove it from heat.
2. Slice the flank steak against the grain into 1/4 inch thick bite-size slices. Tilt the blade of your knife at about a 45 degree angle to the top of the steak so that you get wider cuts.
3. Dip the steak pieces into the cornstarch and apply a thin dusting to both sides of each piece of beef. Let the beef sit for about 10 minutes so that the cornstarch sticks.
4. As the beef sits, heat up one cup of oil in a wok (or skillet). Heat the oil over medium heat until it's nice and hot, but not smoking. Add the beef to the oil and saute for 2 minutes or until the beef just begins to darken on the edges. You don't need a thorough cooking here since the beef will go back on the heat later. Stir the meat around a little so it cooks evenly. After a couple of minutes, use a large slotted spoon to take the meat out and place it on paper towels. Then pour the oil out of the wok. Put the pan back over the heat, dump the meat back into it and simmer for one minute. Add the sauce, cook for one minute while stirring, then add all the green onions. cook for one more minute, then remove the beef and onions with tongs or a slotted spoon to a serving plate. Save the excess sauce behind in the pan.
You can also substitute chicken for the beef, if you prefer it.
*** The recipe itself is fairly easy and straight forward but there’s a few tweaks that put it over the top. First off – if you’re not hurting for pocket change, go ahead a purchase some flank steak, otherwise a nice cut of inside round will do the trick even better as long as it’s prepped correctly. You want the steak to be partially frozen to get a really paper-thin slice. Cut it against the grain with a really sharp knife so you can almost see through the meat (if you think it’s too thin - it’s perfect!). I don’t like to fry really long pieces, so I cut the steak in half first and then start my slicing. I also like to take the pieces in small groups (be sure to unfold the ones that are stuck together), toss them in cornstarch, and then shake them lightly in a sieve just to get some of the extra cornstarch off so the frying oil doesn’t turn into a nightmare. Then after the 10 minutes rest, be sure to unfold the sticky pieces again to get the best fry. Oh, and don’t overcrowd the pan or keep flipping them – just a turn or two should do it.
*** The last tweak is with the sauce. The best result (err… well closet to an actual take-out order) will be if you use Kikkoman soy sauce only. Others just don’t compare… period. Also, after the meat IS drained on the paper towel, there’s no need to fry it again, just drain the oil, add the sauce to the pan with a slurry (1tbsp cornstarch + 2 tbsp cold water mixed well), and then bring to the boil until the sauce thickens. If it’s too thick – add more water. If it’s too thin, make another slurry or keep boiling, just make sure it comes to the boil at least once so the sauce will thicken. Then add the meat and give it a quick toss to coat and reheat. I use the slurry because I like the sauce fairly thick and waiting for the brown sugar to do it takes much longer than 2-3 minutes. Plus, you get more sauce to use for another dish.
*** Ok, well maybe just one more tweak - Add some sambal or any chili garlic sauce to the recipe if you like a spicy kick, but try it the original way the first time around.