Mongolian Beef. Delicious beef with a crispy coating smothered in a sweet, savory sauce with a mild kick. This main dish is ready in 30 minutes with simple ingredients!
What is Mongolian Beef?
Mongolian Beef is a popular Chinese dish featuring crispy tender beef stir fried in a sweet and savory sauce with a hint of spice. You'll find this dish served at many Chinese restaurants, like P.F. Changs. It's best served with white rice and greens for a complete meal.
Despite the name, this mongolian beef recipe does not come from Mongolia! The reason for the name is it was first created at Mongolian BBQ restaurants in Taiwan. It’s become so popular in North America for its delicious taste and textures.
Back when I used to work in an office, I remember ordering this dish for lunch at my favorite Chinese takeout place. I would salivate thinking of that sweet crispy beef as lunch time rolled around. Even to this day, I still dream of it and I decided I had to re-make this at home. After much experimentation in the kitchen, here it is and I hope you enjoy it!
Please scroll down to below recipe card for exact measurements.
- Flank Steak: or substitute with sirloin steak, tri-tip steak, hanger steak, top round steak. Flank steak is the best cut of beef for this stir-fry recipe, as it contains less muscle fibres compared to other cuts. It’s commonly used in Chinese stir-fry dishes for this reason.
- Corn starch or potato starch: this helps make the beef crispy as it doesn’t contain gluten and absorbs any surrounding moisture which creates a crispier coating. I recommend not using all purpose flour or it won't get crispy enough.
- Fresh Ginger: avoid using ginger powder if possible as the freshness in the ginger is more potent.
- Red chili pepper: Omit if you wish to make it not spicy.
- Green onion
- Neutral oil: any flavorless oil like avocado oil, peanut oil, grapeseed oil, vegetable oil or canola oil with a higher smoke point. Avoid olive oil as it has a heavy scent and a low smoke point.
- Regular soy sauce: or substitute with low sodium soy sauce or light soy sauce. If you’re gluten-free, substitute with tamari sauce, coconut aminos or a gluten-free soy sauce of your choice. Avoid using dark soy sauce.
- Black pepper
- Baking soda: Do not skip this as it tenderizes the beef! Don't worry you won't taste it. This is a secret ingredient used to make beef more tender in Chinese cooking.
Mongolian beef sauce
- Hoisin Sauce: This adds a caramelized sweetness to our sauce. Do not confuse this sauce with Oyster sauce even though they look similar.
- Regular soy sauce
- Brown sugar: light or dark brown sugar will work.
- Sesame oil: this offers a nutty flavor and I would to only recommend omitting if you’re allergic to it.
- Corn starch or potato starch: to thicken the sauce
- Cold water
- Toasted sesame seeds
Note: Most Asian grocers will carry the Asian-specific ingredients.
- Freeze flank steak for 45-60 minutes fully exposed to the cold air to thinly slice! Also I recommend a sharp knife when slicing.
- Slice the beef against the grain on a 45-degree angle for wider strips. To know how to slice “against the grain” is by looking at the direction of muscle lines. You want to cut through the lines and not parallel to them. See How to Make section for a visual.
- Baking soda helps to tenderize meat. Do not skip!
- Coat marinated beef slices generously in starch for crispy texture ensuring no bald spots.
- Do not over fry your beef. Since we are frying the thinly sliced beef in hot oil, it’s important not to over fry it or it’ll too crispy and dry.
- Fry beef in small batches and don’t overload the pan or you won’t get crispy beef because you’ll lower the oil temperature.
- Simmer sauce over LOW heat or it can burn easily with the high sugar content.
How to make Mongolian Beef
Thinly Slice Beef
Thinly slice beef against the grain on an angle into 0.75 cm thick pieces and 2 inches in length. Do not slice any thinner. Tip: To thinly slice beef, freeze it for 45-60 minutes exposed to the cold freezer air, so the exterior becomes hardened and use a sharp knife to slice it.
Marinate beef strips with Marinade ingredients and set aside as you work on the other ingredients. Ideally marinate this for 15 minutes if possible. This ensures a more tender beef.
In a small bowl, combine sauce ingredients. Set aside. Tip: make sure to re-mix this again before simmering it later as the cornstarch falls to the bottom of the bowl.
Coat Beef in Starch
On a large plate or large bowl, add cornstarch and generously dredge beef slices into starch until well coated. Ensuring no bald spots. Transfer coated pieces onto a large plate. Repeat this process until all your beef is coated.
Fry Beef in Batches
In a large skillet on medium heat, add and heat vegetable oil. Check if oil is hot by inserting a wooden chopstick and look for bubbles.
Once oil is hot, fry beef in a single layer in batches 1 minute on each side until slightly crispy. Important: Immediately spread beef apart to prevent sticking. Fry in 2-3 batches to prevent overcrowding depending on the size of your pan.
Remove Beef & Set Aside
Remove cooked beef from oil and set aside on a large plate or baking tray lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil. The excess oil is what makes anything fried soggy over time.
Discard excess oil leaving 1 teaspoon in the pan. Over low heat, sauté ginger, garlic, red chili for 10 seconds.
Pour in sauce to reduce and thicken. To know when it's thick enough, you should be able to part the sauce with a spatula and it should stay parted for a split 1 second.
Toss in Beef & Garnish
Once sauce is thick, add beef and mix to coat evenly. Garnish with green onions. Remove off heat. Optionally garnish with sesame seeds. Enjoy!
Storage & Reheating
Leftovers will last up to 4 days stored in an airtight container in the fridge. To reheat, microwave for 2-3 minutes or reheat on the stovetop in a pan on medium heat until hot.
Other Chinese recipes you may like!
Quick & Easy Mongolian Beef
- ½ teaspoon Sesame seeds toasted
- Thinly slice beef against the grain on an angle into 0.75 cm thick pieces and 2 inches in length. Do not slice any thinner. Tip: To thinly slice beef, freeze it for 45-60 minutes so the exterior becomes hardened and use a sharp knife to slice it.
- Marinate beef strips with Marinade ingredients and set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine Sauce ingredients.
- On a large plate or in a large bowl, add cornstarch and generously dredge beef slices into starch until well coated. Transfer coated pieces onto a large plate. Repeat this process until all your beef is coated.
- In a large skillet on medium heat, add and heat vegetable oil. Check if oil is hot by inserting a wooden chopstick and look for bubbles.
- Once oil is hot, fry beef in a single layer in batches 1 minute on each side until slightly crispy. Important: Immediately spread beef apart to prevent sticking. Fry in 2-3 batches to prevent overcrowding.
- Remove cooked beef from oil and set aside on a large plate or baking tray lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil. Discard excess oil leaving 1 teaspoon in the pan.
- Over low heat, sauté ginger, garlic, red chili for 10 seconds.
- Pour in sauce to reduce and thicken.
- Once thick, add beef and mix to coat evenly. Garnish with green onions.
- Remove off heat. Optionally garnish with sesame seeds. Enjoy!