Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Just a Taste and Dinner Then Dessert: Mongolian Beef

Update 12/2020: I have found a recipe that uses all the same ingredients, just different amounts, and it's like night and day.  I actually look forward to this recipe now!  Here is the updated recipe, care of Dinner Then Dessert:

¼ cup canola oil
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
⅓ cup soy sauce
 cup water
½ cup lightly packed dark brown sugar
1 pound flank steak
¼ cup cornstarch
4 scallions, green parts only, cut into 2-inch pieces

Slice the flank steak against the grain (the grain is the length of the steak) the long way into ¼-inch thick pieces and add it to a Ziploc bag with the cornstarch. Press the steak around in the bag making sure each piece is fully coated with cornstarch and leave it to sit.

Add the canola oil to a large frying pan and heat on medium-high heat. Add the steak to the pan in a single layer, shaking off any excess cornstarch, and cook on each side for 1 minute. If you need to, cook the steak in batches if your pan isn't big enough to avoid crowding the pan. You want to get a good sear on the steak, and if you crowd the pan, your steak with steam instead of sear. When the steak is done cooking, remove it from the pan.

Add the ginger and garlic to the pan and sauté for 10 to 15 seconds. Add the soy sauce, water, and dark brown sugar to the pan and let it come to a boil. Add the steak back in and let the sauce thicken for 20 to 30 seconds. The cornstarch we used on the steak should thicken the sauce, but if you find it isn't thickening enough, add 1 tablespoon of cornstarch to 1 tablespoon of cold water.  Stir to dissolve the cornstarch and add it to the pan. Add the green onions, stir to combine everything, and cook for a final 20 to 30 seconds. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings

I have been spending way too much time on Pinterest.  Everything they say is true: it will suck you in and then you'll look up three hours later and wonder where your evening went.  Or lunch time.  Or weekend.  Whatever the case may be.  And for me, Pinterest is like a giant cookbook with everyone posting what they love the most.  So of course I can spend more time than is reasonable digging through everything that people are cooking.  Even the knock-off stuff that I normally stay a million miles away from.

When I saw Mongolian Beef (just like P.F.Chang's!!), I decided it looked easy enough for me to give it a go.  Certainly not traditional, and probably not even the same stuff you get in a US restaurant (just like P.F.Chang's!!), but I'm all about easy dinners lately.  And I like it when I have at least 90% of the ingredients in my kitchen before I even find the recipe.

The beef itself is velveted, a technique that gives a very light coating of cornstarch to the meat before it is fried, and this also helps with the thickening of the sauce once you get to that part.  So far so good.  Fresh ginger and garlic are both good, and we have the soy sauce and brown sugar that was expected.  Check and check.  Everything whips up pretty quickly, the beef is tender and yummy, but oh........that sauce.  Such a one-note song.  I'm all about easy, but not at the expense of flavor.  Something is very much missing here.  Chilis?  Oyster sauce?  I would definitely tweak it before going through another pound of flank steak, but if you're a fan of bland, this may be right up your alley.

Mongolian Beef
From Just a Taste blog

½ cup plus 2 teaspoons vegetable oil, divided use
½ teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
½ cup soy sauce
½ cup water
⅔ cup dark brown sugar
1 pound flank steak
¼ cup cornstarch
3 scallions, green parts only, sliced diagonally into 1-inch pieces

Heat 2 teaspoon vegetable oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add the ginger and garlic and sauté until golden, about 2 minutes.  Add the soy sauce and water, stirring to combine.  Stir in the brown sugar and increase the heat to medium.  Bring the sauce to a boil for 3 minutes.  Remove the sauce from the heat and set aside.

Slice the flank steak against the grain into ¼-inch slices, then toss it with the cornstarch.  Shake off any excess cornstarch and allow the steak to rest for 10 minutes.

Place a large sauté pan or wok over medium-high heat and add ½ cup vegetable oil.  Once the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the beef to the pan and sauté for 2 minutes until it is seared on all sides but barely cooked in the center.  Remove the steak from the pan with a slotted spoon and transfer the meat to a paper-towel lined plate.  Discard any excess oil.

Place the sauté pan or wok back over medium heat.  Add the prepared sauce to the hot pan, bring the sauce to a boil, then add the cooked steak and boil, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.  Add the scallions, stirring to combine.

Makes 4 servings

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