Last night I decided to make mongolian beef for dinner. I thought it would be quick and easy. In fact, it was.
A quick search online led me to a copycat recipe of the P.F. Chang's version. I don't think it was exactly like the one at P.F. Chang's (not necessarily a bad thing). Maybe it's because I didn't use a wok. And a fraction of the oil it called for. And while it was tasty it still feels like it's missing something. Maybe a little chile pepper to give it a kick? Then again it was still pretty darned tasty. I would make it again.
After dinner there was some left over beef which I heated, chopped up and tossed with some spinach leaves and chopped cashews in a sesame oil + rice wine vinegar dressing. It made a tasty lunch.
Mongolian Beef (no photo because I was too hungry and impatient to start my meal)
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon ginger, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup dark brown sugar (the water, soy sauce and brown sugar make up the bulk of the sauce. I thought it made too much sauce which doesn't all get eaten up so in the future I'd probably half these amounts.)
vegetable oil, for frying (about 1 cup) (I used considerably less and it was fine)
1 lb flank steak
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 large green onions
toasted sesame seeds sprinkled as a garnish (not part of the original recipe, but I have some at home so I added it. I think the Mongolians would approve)
sliced red thai chiles to taste added with the garlic and ginger (also not part of the original recipe, but I'll include it next time)
Make the sauce by heating 2 tsp of vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over med/low heat. Don't get the oil too hot. 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. (NB: It took longer than 2-3 minutes for the sauce to thicken. I think I left it on for over 5 minutes) Remove it from the heat.
Slice the flank steak against the grain into 1/4" thick bite-size slices. Tilt the blade of your knife at about a forty five degree angle to the top of the steak so that you get wider cuts. Dip the steak pieces into the cornstarch to apply a very thin dusting to both sides of each piece of beef. (NB: This part was a little tricky as the cornstarch didn't coat thinly but sort of blobbed itself on the meat. So I gave up trying to be dainty and just tossed all the meat slices into a bowl with the cornstarch and mixed it all up as best as I could by hand.) Let the beef sit for about 10 minutes so that the cornstarch sticks.
As the beef sits, heat up one cup of oil in a wok (you may also use a skillet for this step as long as the beef will be mostly covered with oil). Heat the oil over medium heat until it's nice and hot, but not smoking. Add the beef to the oil and sauté for just two minutes, or until the beef just begins to darken on the edges. You don't need a thorough cooking here since the beef is going to go back on the heat later. Stir the meat around a little so that it cooks evenly. (NB: Since I just used about two tablespoons of oil, the meat stuck a little to the pan. More oil could be used to deep fry which is what this recipe calls for, but I opted for the healthier route with less oil and a little sticking. I just had to unstick the meat with a wooden spoon from time to time. Worked out okay.)
After a couple minutes, use a large slotted spoon to take the meat out and onto paper towels, then pour the oil out of the wok or skillet. Put the pan back over the heat, dump the meat back into it and simmer for one minute (NB: Again, since I used less oil I just added the sauce to the meat instead of this transfer process that the original recipe calls for). 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. Leave the excess sauce behind in the pan. Serve with steamed rice.