Sunday, 28 September 2014

Mongolian Beef

You will find a lot of recipes online when you do a lot of searching for recipes that are designed to give you copies of favourite chain establishment dishes: copycat or clone recipes for the likes of Olive Garden, Red Lobster, IHOP, Chilis - all places that I have never stepped foot in but know of in the main because of the existence of all these copycat recipes.

And of course there is PF Changs, the largest full service, casual dining Chinese restaurant chain in the US: this place always features heavily. I’ve seen copycat recipes for Chicken Lettuce Wraps, Kung Pao Chicken and probably most of all, and what I wanted to try here: Mongolian Beef.

Now I’ve never eaten at PF Changs, obvs, so I’ve no idea how it should taste so what I’ve done is amalgamate all the recipes I found and spit them out into one cohesive recipe: scientific eh?

Anyway - it is super easy: some thinly sliced, velveted, steak, garlic ginger, soy & brown sugar, that’s about it. By the way, when cooking with cornflour, make sure that the sauce is boiled otherwise it won’t do its job as a thickening agent.

The other thing to mention is that I’ve dramatically reduced the amount of sugar as I thought it would be way too sweet with the original amount (175g!). In my experience American dishes tend to be sweeter than those we are used to in the UK or Europe (sweet potatoes with marshmallows anyone?!?) but do use the original quantity if you think you can handle it. I’d be surprised.

PF Chang’s Mongolian Beef
serves 2

Adapted from many but mainly from here

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon ginger paste (or fresh ginger, grated)
1 tablespoon garlic paste (or fresh garlic, finely chopped)
1 tsp Korean red pepper flakes
115ml soy sauce (I used half dark, half light)
115ml water
2 tsp rice wine vinegar
75g dark brown sugar
5 tbsp vegetable oil, for frying
350g steak, sliced into bite-sized strips
3 tbsp cornflour
3 spring onions, green parts only, sliced on the diagonal

Toss the strips of steak with the cornflour then place the coated pieces in a sieve and shake off any excess flour. Allow the steak to sit 10 for minutes.

Gently heat 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over a medium-low heat. Before the oil gets too hot add the ginger and garlic cook for 2 minutes until golden and then add the red pepper flakes, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and water before the garlic burns.

Dissolve the brown sugar in the sauce, then increase the heat to medium and boil the sauce for 2-3 minutes or until the sauce thickens slightly.

Remove from the heat and set aside.

Heat the 5 tbsp of oil for frying in a wok and when it is hot but not smoking add the steak strips in batches (you don’t want to overcrowd the wok) and fry until brown - just a couple of minutes. Stir around occasionally so that it cooks evenly and the meat pieces separate.

Use a large slotted spoon to scoop out the strips and set aside on paper towels to drain off any excess oil and pour off any oil that remains in the wok.

Put the wok back over a medium heat and pour in the sauce which should come to a boil pretty quickly. Add the steak and cook, at a boil, stirring constantly for 2 minutes.

Finally, stir in the sliced spring onion greens and remove from the heat.

Stir around a few times and serve over plain rice with a green vegetable alongside to cut through the richness (I stirred some steamed broccoli into the rice).

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