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Make Mongolian Beef, an American Chinese Classic 蒙古牛肉

Crispy, sticky, savory and sweet: Mongolian Beef is a crowd-pleasing, belly-satisfying dish.

Published Sept. 13, 2023.

Mongolian Beef might not be Mongolian, nor would you find it on most restaurant menus in China (its more of an American Chinese dish).

But its flavors are instantly identifiable for anyone who enjoys Chinese food.

Witness the sweet soy, the garlic and ginger, the wilted scallions, the spicy tingle from dried red pepper pods. And of course, the tender and crispy beef, an ideal dance partner with steamed rice.


A Very Chinese Cookbook

Featuring 100+ Chinese recipes, from Sichuan street food to Hong Kong dim sum parlors to American Chinese classics.

This recipe, developed by Ashley Moore for Cook’s Country, is a crowd-pleaser. The savory-sweet sauce reduces to a sticky glaze that clings on the crisp beef. A few notes:

  • Adjust the number of pepper pods to your liking—three is a good start; level up to six if youre feeling brave.
  • Be sure to cook with good ventilation or open windows! The ginger/garlic/chiles are a potent combination in a hot wok.
  • Flap meat comes from the bottom sirloin, which is also where flank steak comes from. Use either cut, whichevers available.
  • This recipe calls for frying the beef 2-4 minutes. If youd like your beef more tender and crisp, fry for 2 minutes. More of a sturdy crunch? Fry for 4 minutes.

Find the recipe below, after this latest episode of Hunger Pangs:

Mongolian Beef 蒙古牛肉

Serves 4-6, Total Time: 1¼ hour

  • 1½ pounds beef flap meat, trimmed
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • 2 quarts peanut or vegetable oil for frying
  • 4 scallions, white parts minced, green parts cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2–4 small dried Sichuan chiles, stemmed and halved crosswise
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • ¾ cup water
  • ⅔ cup packed brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons soy sauce

1. Cut beef with grain into 2½- to 3-inch-wide strips. Transfer to plate and freeze until firm, about 15 minutes. Slice strips crosswise against grain ⅛ inch thick. Toss beef with cornstarch in bowl; set aside.

2. Line rimmed baking sheet with triple layer of paper towels. Add oil to large Dutch oven until it measures about 1½ inches deep and heat over medium-high heat to 375 degrees. Carefully add one-third of beef to hot oil. Using tongs or cooking chopsticks, separate pieces so they fry individually. Fry beef, stirring occasionally, until browned and crispy, 2 to 4 minutes. Adjust burner, if necessary, to maintain oil temperature between 350 and 375 degrees. Using spider skimmer or slotted spoon, transfer beef to prepared sheet. Return oil to 375 degrees and repeat with remaining beef in 2 batches; transfer to sheet.

3. Measure out and reserve 1 tablespoon frying oil; discard remaining oil or save for another use. Heat reserved oil in empty 14-inch flat-bottomed wok over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add scallion whites, chiles, garlic, and ginger and cook, mashing mixture into wok, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in water, sugar, and soy sauce and bring to vigorous simmer. Cook until sauce is thickened and reduced to 1¼ cups, 6 to 8 minutes. Add beef and scallion greens and cook, tossing constantly, until sauce coats beef, about 1 minute. Serve. 

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