Sunday, August 28, 2016

Mongolian Beef (Meng Gu Niu Rou)

Mongolian Beef is not Mongolian at all, but rather a dish created by early Chinese immigrants to the U.S.  Today, the Mongolian Beef dish from the popular restaurant chain P.F. Chang's is probably the most well-known version. The thin, tender slices of flank steak stir-fried in a savory brown sauce with lots of scallions and just a few dried red chiles makes this dish super flavorful, very mildly spicy (unless you bite into the peppers) and, therefore, very accessible and palatable to even the least adventurous of palates. Traditionally, Mongolian beef is not very saucy, but my version is - just because I like to mix all that extra gravy in with some steamed white rice. 


2 lbs. flank steak, trimmed, and sliced against the grain into 1/4" slices

Tenderizer:
2 tsp. baking soda

1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice (juice of about 1/2 lemon)

Marinade:
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. rice wine
2 tbsp. soy sauce

Sauce:
1 cup water
4 tbsp. soy sauce
1/4 cup light (low sodium) soy sauce
3 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. cornstarch

1 tbsp. minced fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
5-6 whole small dried red chiles (I use Japanese dried chiles)

1 bunch scallions, sliced along the bias (diagonal) into 1" pieces

1. Slice the flank steak thinly across the grain into 1/4" slices and place into a bowl. Sprinkle with 2 tsp. baking soda, mix well to combine, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit 15-20 minutes.

2. Pour cool water over the beef to cover about 1-2" over, and stir in 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice. Let sit for 1-2 minutes (this will neutralize the alkaline, slightly bitter aftertaste of the baking soda in the beef). 

3. Pour the beef into a colander and rinse under cool tap water. Pour the beef into a bowl and pat dry with paper towels.

4. Add the marinade ingredients to the beef, stir well, cover, and place in the refrigerator to marinate at least 1 hour.

5. In the meantime, combine all the sauce ingredients together in a bowl or measuring cup; set aside.

6. Heat 1 cup of oil in a wok or large saute pan over high heat and add the marinated beef in 3 or more batches, so as not to overcrowd the pan (overcrowding lowers the oil temperature quickly and you'll end up with soggy, oily beef). Cook the beef about 30 second each side, turning over with a slotted spoon or spatula. Remove the beef to a paper towel-lined plate to let drain. Repeat with the remaining beef.

7. Remove all but 1 tbsp. oil from the same pan. Heat over medium-high heat and add the minced ginger, garlic, and whole red chiles. Saute for a few seconds until fragrant then add the sauce. Bring the sauce back up to a boil and cook for about 10 seconds or until the sauce has started to thicken.

8. Stir in the beef, bring back up to a boil, then turn off the heat. 

9. Stir in the sliced scallions and plate the dish. Serve with or over steamed white rice.

Thinly slice the trimmed flank steak along the bias.

To tenderize the beef: place the beef slices into a bowl and sprinkle with 2 tsp. baking soda (1 tsp. per lb. of meat). Toss well to coat and let sit for 15-20 minutes.

After 15-20 minutes, cover the beef with cool water and add 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice. Stir and let sit 1-2 minutes (this will neutralize the taste of the baking soda in the meat).

Pour the meat into a colander and rinse well under cool tap water.

Place the meat back into the bowl and blot dry with paper towels.

Add the marinade ingredients.

Stir well to combine, cover with plastic wrap, refrigerate and let marinate at least 1 hour.

For the beef marinade: cornstarch, rice wine, vegetable oil, and soy sauce.

For the sauce: light soy sauce, dried red chiles, cornstarch, brown sugar, regular soy sauce.

1 bunch sliced scallions, grated fresh ginger, dried red chiles, and minced garlic.

Heat 1 cup of vegetable oil in a large pan or wok over high heat. Add the beef in 3 batches, or as needed, so as not to overcrowd the pan. Saute each batch about 30 seconds on each side until lightly browned and just cooked through. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Repeat with the remaining batches. 

Drain beef on paper towels.

Drain all but 1 tbsp. of oil from the same pan and heat over medium high heat. Saute the minced ginger, dried chiles and garlic for a few seconds. 

Add the sauce and simmer for about 10 seconds or until the sauce starts to thicken. Stir in the beef, bring to a boil and turn off heat. 

Stir in the sliced scallions before serving.

Plate and serve with steamed white rice.

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