Make this sweet and salty take-away favourite at home.
A staple of Australian-Chinese cuisine, Mongolian beef is a classic take-away dish that combines a beautifully glossy sauce with caramelised onions and crispy, tender beef.
Let’s be honest – ordering mongolian beef can be a gamble. Sometimes it’s the most delicious thing in the world and sometimes, well, it can be quite underwhelming.
The good news is that this is an easy dish to make at home using condiments you’ve likely already got in the pantry. (And if you don’t, we recommend stocking up – you’ll be making this dish often!)
The origins of Mongolian beef are quite murky. Is it from Mongolia? Probably not. Some say it originally comes from Taiwan, while others suggest it’s more likely to be an American-Chinese cuisine dish, adapted by early immigrants to the USA.
Regardless of its origins, we guarantee you can make a better version of this umami-rich dish yourself at home.
Flank steak works best because it’s long and thin, and takes to marinades well. But if you can’t find flank at the supermarket or local butcher, go for beef strips or choose any affordable steak and slice it. You could always ask your local butcher for a recommendation – they can even slice it thinly for you with their automatic meat slicer.
Recipe: Mongolian Beef
For the beef marinade
- 400 g of flank steak
- 1/4 cup of cornstarch
- 1 tbsp of soy sauce
- 1 tbsp of Chinese Shaoxing wine
- 1/2 tsp of ground white pepper
For the sauce
- 3-4 tbsp of vegetable oil
- 1/2 an onion, sliced (yellow or white, or red if you prefer a bit sweeter)
- 4 spring onions or scallions, sliced in about 5cm segments
- 2 cloves of crushed garlic
- 1bsp of finely chopped ginger
- 2 dried red chillies, thinly sliced (seeds and all!)
- 1 tbsp of brown sugar
- 1/4 cup of dark soy sauce
- 1/4 cup of regular soy sauce
- 1/4 cup of water
- A splash of rice vinegar
- Steamed rice, for serving
To prepare the beef, first slice it against the grain into thin strips about 1 ½ cm thick. Toss the beef in a bowl together with the cornstarch, soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, salt and pepper until evenly coated.
Tip: Put the beef in the freezer for 15-20 minutes to make it easier to slice thinly.
Add the vegetable oil in a wok over a medium-high heat. Shake off any excess cornstarch and shallow fry each piece of beef for about 2 minutes per side or until beautifully browned. Transfer the beef to the plate when done.
Tip: Do this in batches to avoid overcrowding the wok.
With the heat still on medium, add the onion, spring onions, garlic, ginger and red chillies. Stir fry for about 1 minute.
Add the brown sugar and stir. Now add the dark soy sauce, regular soy sauce, water and a splash of rice vinegar. Let it boil and reduce for a few minutes until the sauce thickens.
Return the beef back to the wok and toss it in the sauce to coat thoroughly. You’re looking for the consistency of a thick glaze.
Turn off the heat and serve warm with some steamed rice. Enjoy!