Quick Mongolian beef

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Made in about 15 minutes, this insanely tasty dish – think hoisin sauce coating tender strips of gingery beef – has THE most addictive sauce and it easily tops any dish you can buy from a take-away.

This star of the show is the sauce which is rich, silky and delightfully pungent with fresh ginger and garlic. It has a slight sweetness, but the soy sauce and star anise give it real body.

Served with rice (egg-fried rice is wonderful!) and a scattering of sliced spring onions, this dish is sure to give a feeling of total contentment.

From the store-cupboard

This is another of those dishes that uses what you probably have in the store-cupboard, fridge or freezer. And if you don’t have the beef in, you can replace with with vegetables or whatever you want.

Stem ginger works well if you don’t have fresh ginger, and you could also use powdered ginger. In which case, I would use 3 pieces of stem ginger or 2 teaspoons powdered ginger.

The mushrooms aren’t essential but I love how they absorb the flavours. You can use dried or fresh mushrooms. If using dried, cover them in boiling water for half and hour or so to rehydrate, and use the liquor in place of the water in the recipe.

Soy sauce and sugar!

I go for a reduced salt soy sauce which adds terrific flavour but without making the dish too salty. A dark brown sugar adds the best depth of flavour, but you can use any sugar you have.

You can add more chilli if you prefer it hotter, but for this dish I find that a gentle heat is all that is needed.

As a filling for steamed buns

I often use this recipe as a filling for steamed buns or bao buns, along with freshly chopped spring onions and pickled radishes, which add a lovely crunch and sweet-sharpness.

For filling steamed buns, once the beef has cooked, remove the pieces of beef from the sauce and reduce the sauce in a pan over a medium heat until it reduces and becomes sticky.

Stir the beef back into the sauce and it is ready to be used. You can shred the beef if you prefer or keep the beef fairly chunky

Beef, chicken, vegetables or Quorn….

The beef cut I prefer to use here is either flat iron steak or rump, either of which cooks very quickly and is beautifully tender.

You can fry the beef in a pan with hot oil until golden brown before adding to the sauce, but I usually just mix it into the sauce to cook from raw: the cornflour coating the beef will then thicken the sauce, giving a luscious,  glossy finish.

You can of course replace the beef with chicken, vegetables, firm tofu or Quorn pieces. Actually, I am a big fan of Quorn pieces, and they work so well here.

An all-in-one slow cooker version

Even though this is a very speedy dish, I sometimes make this in a slow cooker using beef short rib or braising streak, where the flavours develop even further. with braising steak, it will cook beautifully in 6-7 hours on the HIGH setting.

Quick Mongolian beef: serves 3-4

  • 500g steak (rump or flat iron), sliced thinly across the grain
  • 2 tablespoons cornflour or plain flour
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3” piece ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 1 large onion, peeled and sliced
  • about 150g shiitake or any mushrooms, sliced thickly – if dried, rehydrate first and use the liquor
  • 150ml soy sauce
  • 80g dark brown or molasses sugar
  • 120ml water
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil for frying

(1) Put the steak pieces into a bowl, add the cornflour and mix well so that the steak pieces are coated.

(2) Heat a little vegetable oil in a frying pan or wok and fry the onions until golden brown. Add the mushrooms, garlic, ginger, chilli and star anise and cook for a minute or so.
(3) Add the sugar, soy sauce, water and sesame oil and bring to the boil. Simmer gently for about 10 minutes until the sauce is slightly reduced.
(4) Add the beef and simmer gently for a couple of minutes, stirring from time to time to help the sauce thicken. Remove the star anise and serve.

Author: Philip

Finalist on Britain’s Best Home Cook (BBC Television 2018). Published recipe writer with a love of growing fruit & veg, cooking, teaching and eating good food.

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