One of my favorite stir fry meals is crispy Mongolian Beef. It’s one of those unique dishes I get a craving for now and then. And no other beef recipe can satisfy.
This recipe for Mongolian Beef is amazingly simple and uses few ingredients. And it really takes advantage of the special properties of a cast-iron skillet.
For this recipe, I will help you determine what cut of beef you should use. And help you out with some useful tips about how to cook with and maintain your remarkable cast iron pan.
Do you have to use a cast iron pan? Of course not! But make sure you use a pan that can get super hot and not burn your food as it cooks.
A Little About Flat Iron Steak
The cut of steak you use for this easy Mongolian beef recipe is important. Different cuts are ideal for different things. But, when you want to make a great Mongolian beef dish, Flat Iron is the way to go. However, don’t worry too much about it if you can’t find this at your supermarket.
Flat iron steak is a relatively common steak to find. Although sometimes when you are looking for something, it becomes more elusive than you expect. Don’t give up hope on making a terrific Mongolian inspired meal just because they don’t have the exact thing you are looking for at the butcher counter.
Substitutions are always acceptable, especially with this kind of recipe. You just have to ballpark it.
Flat iron steak is a cut from the chuck, which is the shoulder. Chuck steak is tougher and less expensive beef. These cuts are best prepared basted or slow-cooked.
Flat iron steak is more tender and usually sliced thinner. It’s ideal for fajitas, and other Mexican, as well as Asian cuisine. This cut is the result of removing a gristly membrane that holds two parts of the steak together, thus making two flatter steaks.
If your supermarket doesn’t have flat iron, you can substitute another thinly sliced cut of beef just as well. There are two options that are just as economical and suitable for this recipe. One is flank steak, which is commonly used in London Broil, and skirt steak which is a cut from the plate, just adjacent to the flank. In any case, since the meat is a bit tougher, you will want to marinate it for at least one hour in the refrigerator.
How to make Mongolian Beef
This will show a few pictures on how to make Mongolian beef. The full recipe is in the recipe card.
Cut the flank steak into very thin slices against the grain.
Add the coconut aminos, ginger and garlic. Let marinate for 1 hour in the fridge
When you are ready to cook, drain the meat from the marinade but reserve the liquid for later. Pour the coconut oil in a large wok or cast iron skillet and heat it until it’s almost smoking. Oil should be hot so you can get the nice crispy edges on the beef.
Where Does Mongolian Beef Come From?
Mongolian Beef is a Chinese dish that got its start in Taiwan. Authentic Mongolian cuisine typically involves stewing of some sort, but of course, the Mongolian barbecue we are familiar with is far from its traditional roots. Mongolian Beef actually has no ties to its namesake.
Often confused with Sichuan Beef, Mongolian Beef is more sweet-savory than sweet-spicy. It originated in the 1950s. The confusing origins of this non-Mongolian dish go even further. The preparation of this Taiwanese stir fry was actually inspired by the hot iron griddle cooking of Teppanyaki in Japan.
The real reason it was called Mongolian Beef is the perception that Mongolian food was more luxurious due to high meat content.
What Can You Serve with Mongolian Beef
We love Mongolian Beef served with a mix of stir fry vegetables. You can also serve a side of steamed veggies or rice. When you choose complimentary veggies try to reinforce the natural flavor of the Mongolian Beef while enhancing it with more complex flavors. Sauteed bell peppers and mushrooms make another choice addition to this fabulous stir fry and elevate the dish nicely.
Keto-Friendly Recipe Without Substitutions
One of the things I really love about this Mongolian beef recipe is that it is naturally keto-friendly, you don’t have to leave anything out or go through the trouble of making substitutions the way you often need to with diets such as keto, or Atkins.
This meal is also gluten-free. The umami flavor that this dish imparts is due to the use of coconut aminos, which is a sodium light substitute for soy sauce that does not contain wheat gluten.
The sauce, which gained popularity due to the rise of the paleo diet contains 73% less sodium than soy sauce, yet it has that salty-sweet taste that makes the Mongolian beef shine, especially with the sauces buttery finish smoothing everything out. Coconut aminos are the secret to giving this simple beef recipe it’s extraordinary flavor along with just a little bit of garlic and grated ginger.
Cooking in a Skillet With Oil
For this Mongolian beef recipe, you want the skillet to almost be smoking, or just beginning to smoke (it may be hard to tell when smoke may actually occur so look for the signs and act quickly. You need a hot skillet because the beef should come out crispy for this dish.
A quick sear in the pan is essential to getting the texture just right. The smoke point of coconut oil is relatively low. Smoke indicates the pan is at 350 degrees. Since smoke will indicate when your skillet is ready, be alert as it will take less time to do so. The low smoke point and the flavor are two great reasons to use coconut oil. If you substitute canola oil, there is a higher smoke point of about 400 degrees.
Do I have to use a cast iron skillet?
NO!! You can use a wok which is great for high heat cooking. A heavy bottom skillet that will maintain high heat will do also. We tend to switch back and forth from our wok to the cast iron skillet. I believe in using whatever you feel comfortable cooking in.
Mongolian Beef Variations:
Add some carrots of broccoli. You can steam them together to the crispness you like and add them to the beef at the end. Or you can serve them on the side.
Can Mongolian Beef be frozen?
Yes you can freeze this for 3-4 months. Refrigerate for 4 days. We never have leftovers. But if you should happen to or if you make a double batch of this Mongolian Beef it is very freezer friendly.
This easy Mongolian Beef recipe is better than take out and can be made in no-time! Tender beef, a delicious sauce makes this dish perfection!
OTHER RECIPES YOU WILL LOVE:
Easy Mongolian Beef
- 1 lb. flat iron steak (thinly sliced against the grain)
- 1/4 cup coconut oil, avocado oil or other oil of your choice
- 3-4 green onions (cut into 1-inch slices)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 tsp ginger (grated)
- 1/4 cup coconut aminos or low sodium soy sauce
- Cut the Flat Iron Steak into very thin slices against the grain
- Place the meat in a zip lock bag or a bowl. Add the coconut aminos, ginger and garlic. Marinate for 1 hour in the refrigerator.
- When you are ready to cook, drain the meat from the marinade but reserve the liquid for later.
- Pour the coconut oil in a large wok or cast iron skillet and heat it until it's almost smoking. Oil should be hot so you can get the nice crispy edges on the beef.
- Carefully add the beef to the very hot oil and keep stir frying over a high heat. Taking care not to burn it. Normally this takes just 1-3 minutes. When the last batch of meat is in. Add the green onions and cook for the last 30 -45 seconds.
- Remove the meat to a serving plate.
- If you would like more sauce to serve with the meat quickly cook the remaining marinade for just a minute or two in your wok or skillet. We do this and serve it over rice and steamed veggies.