Mongolian beef is tender pieces of marinated flank steak tossed in a savory Asian-style sauce. Stir-frying the meat develops intense flavors and golden brown color in a short period. Crisp pieces of bell pepper are used for extra crunch and everything is served with steamed rice to soak up all that rich sauce.
Melt-in-your-mouth tender chunks of beef in a luxurious savory sauce will stop you in your tracks. This Mongolian beef recipe infuses pungent ingredients (garlic & ginger) and savory (oyster & soy sauce), with a hint of heat from whole dried chilis. Grab a bowl and load it up with delicious stir-fried marinated steak and vegetables for a meal that packs big bold Asian flavors.
I prefer to make this dish at home rather than order fast-food style take-out so I can control the ingredients used. Your kitchen is going to fill with caramel-like aromas as the beef and vegetables sizzle in the pan or wok. Make sure to clank your metal spatula against the pan a few extra times to make your family think you’re working extra hard, even though the recipe is so easy to prepare!
How to Make Mongolian Beef
- Briefly marinate the beef in baking soda to quickly tenderize the meat.
- Make sure the wok is very hot before adding beef to quick start flavor development.
- Sear the beef in a single layer for even and fast browning on the surface.
- Stir-fry the aromatic ginger, garlic, and whole dried chili peppers together.
- For a spicier sauce, add in red chili flakes or chili paste, like sambal oelek or sriraha.
- Cook onions and pepper at the very end to keep crisp and vibrant in color.
- Use a spatula to constantly stir the sauce as it simmers for rapid thickening.
Ingredients in Mongolian Beef
- Flank steak, new york strip or sirloin are additional options
- Baking soda to quickly tenderize the pieces of steak
- Cornstarch to coat the beef and thicken the sauce
- Oyster sauce and soy sauce
- Minced garlic and ginger
- Rice vinegar
- Dried red chili; for a spicier dish add in red chili flakes or chili paste
- Diced onions and bell pepper
Flank Steak Works Best
Flank steak is a top choice for this dish. It has a strong beef flavor, lean in fat and cooks quick. Stir-frying the beef first sears both sides of the meat in just minutes. To keep the meat tender and prevent overcooking, the beef is transferred to a plate while the vegetables get flashed in the pan.
The sauce really makes the dish stand out. It balances intensely savory notes with a hint of sweetness. Many recipes add brown sugar to coat the beef, but I use oyster sauce because of its deep caramel flavors, plus it already has sugar added in. No need to overload the recipe. The glossy sauce coats every slice of beef and it’s a bonus when it drips on the fluffy grains of rice.
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How to tenderize meat with baking soda
Baking soda is the secret ingredient for tenderizing small slices of meat in a short period of time. This technique is often used in Chinese stir-fries to make more affordable cuts of beef extremely tender and easy to chew. The baking soda creates an alkaline environment on the surface of the beef. This reduces the protein’s ability to bond when cooked, making it more tender and juicy. (Source: Cook’s Illustrated)
- 1 1/4 pound flank steak, (569g)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda, (5g)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 5 teaspoons cornstarch, (20g) divided
- 1 tablespoon water, (15ml)
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, (15ml)
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
- 3 tablespoons oyster sauce, (45ml)
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce , (30ml)
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar, (15ml)
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic, (10g)
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger, (10g)
- 6 dried red chilis
- 1/2 cup diced white onion, (75g) 3/4-inch dice
- 1 cup diced red bell pepper, (130g) 3/4-inch dice
- 1 cup diced green bell pepper, (130g) 3/4-inch dice
- 2 tablespoons sliced green onions, (6g)
- Cut the flank steak against the grain into 3/4-inch cubes.
- In a medium-sized bowl combine steak, baking soda, salt, pepper, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, water, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, and sesame oil.
- Allow beef to marinate about 10 minutes while preparing the sauce and vegetables.
- In a small bowl whisk together oyster sauce, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and 2 teaspoons cornstarch.
- Heat a wok or large saute pan over high heat.
- Add 2 tablespoons oil, once hot add the beef and stir to coat.
- Spread beef evenly in the pan and allow to sear for 1 minute, stir and repeat, searing two more times, 3 minutes total cook time to brown the beef.
- Add in ginger, garlic, and dried chilis, stir-fry for 30 seconds.
- Add onions and bell peppers, stir-fry for 2 minutes.
- Slowly pour the sauce into the pan, stirring until the sauce thickens, about 30-seconds.
- Taste the beef and season with salt and pepper as desired.
- Garnish with sliced green onions and serve hot with rice.
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