Growing up in Koreatown in LA, the Chinese food I ate was quite different from the Chinese food I know today. Most of the Chinese restaurants in Koreatown served Mandarin cuisine, and the owners, servers, and cooks were all Chinese who previously lived in South Korea. When communicating with their customers, they spoke perfect Korean, and when talking amongst themselves, they spoke Mandarin. The food served at these Chinese restaurants was adapted for the Korean palate, with lots of bold flavors. (They even served cabbage kimchee with every meal!) One of my favorite dishes at these Korean-Style Chinese restaurants is Mongolian beef.
Mongolian beef is a dish with a distinct hoisin flavor and lots of scallions. What makes this dish so unique is the texture of the beef – unlike most sautéed meat dishes, the beef is extremely tender. The trick, I learned, is to tenderize the beef with baking soda. Just 1/4 teaspoon will tenderize 8 ounces of beef. I tried this technique at home with flank steak and it worked like a charm, yielding the same tenderness as the Mongolian beef I’ve had at Young Dragon Restaurant. The key is to not let the beef tenderize in the baking soda too long, so be sure not to tenderize the meat until you have everything prepped. As always, please read the entire recipe before you start. Enjoy!
Serving Size: 4 (with rice and side dishes)
8 ounces of flank steak (thinly sliced against the grain)*
1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of organic cornstarch
2 tablespoon of homemade chicken stock or low sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons of organic soy sauce
1 tablespoon of hoisin sauce
2 teaspoon of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of fresh ginger juice*
Freshly grated ground pepper
2 tablespoon of sunflower or peanut oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 organic scallions, sliced in 2 inch pieces
Steamed jasmine rice
Kimchee for serving
1. Place the flank steak in a small glass bowl. Sprinkle the baking soda all over the meat. Give it a good stir to coat evenly. Let the meat tenderize for 15-20 minutes.
2. While the meat is tenderizing, in a glass measuring cup, add the chicken sock, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sugar, ginger juice, and good pinch of freshly grated pepper. Whisk and set aside.
3. Once the the meat is tenderized, sprinkle the cornstarch and mix until all the meat is coated. Heat a wok or large stainless steel pan on high, adding 2 tablespoons of oil in the wok. Add the minced garlic and stir fry for 10 seconds.
4. Add the beef, spreading it out so most of the meat touches the surface of the wok. Let it sit undisturbed for 1 seconds. Sauté until the beef is slightly pink (about 45 more seconds).
5. Add the green onions and stir for a few seconds. Quickly move the beef and green onion to the sides of the of the wok, creating a well.
6. Add about 2/3 of sauce mixture into the center of the wok. Let the sauce thicken for about 30 seconds. Bring the meat down from side of the wok. Sauté into the sauce for 30 more seconds. Taste for seasoning and add more sauce, if needed.
7. Transfer to a serving plate. Serve immediately with steamed jasmine rice, kimchee and other vegetable side dishes.
*Cut the flank steak against the grain, just shy of 1/4 inch in thickness and about 2 inches wide.
*To make ginger juice, finely grate about 1 teaspoon of ginger. Squeeze the grated ginger over a fine mesh seive. Discard the ginger solids and use ginger liquid for the recipe.