Better Than Takeout & Easy to Make at Home
Mongolian Beef. These words conjure up images of exotic oriental locales, with Attila the Hun and his hordes sweeping down the Eurasian Steppe to conquer unsuspecting villages. Surely this must be what they ate around their campfires after a long day of pillaging!
But this dish is not of Mongolian origin, or typical Mongolian cuisine, in the slightest. It is actually a variety of Taiwanese stir-fry. It was given this name to make it seem more exotic, and appealing, to people jaded from years of eating Chinese food. It is prepared on large iron griddles heated to nearly 600 degrees F, quickly searing the meat and veggies. These are then served over steamed rice.
Actual Mongolians, in the time of Attila the Hun, ate a diet consisting largely of mutton, drank the fermented milk of their herds of mares, and when they traveled away from their sheep herds, they would actually cut into the veins of their horses and suck their blood, for “fast food,” on the go. Yuck!
You could approximate this original iron griddle cooking method using a wok, but a simple skillet on your stove top will work just as well. The crispiness of the dish comes from coating the beef strips in cornstarch and then frying them, which causes the cornstarch to bubble up.
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Quick Tip: Unless you like your food take-the-roof-off-of-your-mouth spicy, DO NOT add anything close to 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes to this dish. The normal amount is 1/8 to ¼ teaspoon. If you like things pretty spicy, try ½ teaspoon. Using 1 teaspoon would make it inedible for most people.
Recipe and photo courtesy of Arvin and Aena at the Scrambled Chefs