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Mongolian Barbecue Stir-Fry Recipe for Beef or Tofu

Updated on May 31, 2007

As the legend goes, Mongolian barbecue was one of the weapons that Genghis Kahn used in conquering China. His soldiers turned their metal shields upside down over their campfires and used them as bowls to cook meat and vegetables with the rich, delicious smelling sauce. Upon smelling the enticing aroma, the opposing soldiers would surrender.

While the legend is probably not true, the wonderful smell of Mongolian barbecue cooking is indeed quite enticing. Mongolian barbecue actually originated in the Shantung Province of China. This easy stir-fry is a Chinese restaurant favorite, traditionally made with beef strips stir-fried with onions, scallions, and peppers in a spicy sauce. This recipe will show you how to make the traditional version or use tofu instead to make it vegetarian. Add cabbage, carrots, and bean sprouts for a unique and fresh touch!

pre-cut ingredients for Mongolian barbecue
pre-cut ingredients for Mongolian barbecue

Mongolian Barbecue Stir-Fry Recipe

serves two

This recipe is vegan and vegetarian, or can be made with meat.



  • 1 cup dried white rice


  • peanut oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless beef thinly sliced across the grain OR 16 oz container extra-firm tofu
  • 1 large sweet onion, peeled and sliced thin
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into thin strips
  • 1 green pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 1 1/2 cup green cabbage, sliced thin
  • 1 large handful mung been sprouts (reserve for garnish)


  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup water (traditional. Leave the water out for a thicker, more modern sauce)
  • 2 large cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed black peppercorns
  • 4 star anise (or 1/2 teaspoon normal anise)
  • 3/4 cup rice wine (or dry sherry)
  • 1 tablespoon palm sugar (or sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger root
  • 1 1/2 cup cilantro, minced
  • 1 1/2 cup green onions (scallions), chopped

Some ingredients, like star anise, palm sugar, and rice wine can be found in an Asian market.


1. Prepare the sauce. You will want to do this step an hour or so before you begin to cook the rest of the meal. In a saucepan, bring the soy sauce, water (optional), garlic, pepper, and anise to a simmer, and keep simmering for about five minutes, stirring frequently. Strain out the anise and garlic. Let cool. When cool, add the wine, sugar, ginger, green onions, and most of the cilantro (reserve some cilantro for garnish).

prepared Mongolian barbecue sauce
prepared Mongolian barbecue sauce

2. If using tofu, prepare the tofu ahead of time. Cut the tofu into 1/2 inch thick, 1 inch wide strips. Gently press between woven cloth to remove excess moisture. Dry-fry in a Teflon pan over medium heat with NO OIL, pressing with spatula frequently. It is done when firm and golden on both sides. (See How to Cook Tofu Like the Pros: Dry-fry and Marinate Method for detailed instructions on pressing and dry-frying tofu, a professional technique). Once done dry-frying, marinate the tofu directly in the sauce.

3. Start the rice, following the directions for whatever variety you have.

4. Wash and chop any vegetables and cut the meat if you are using it.


5. Start the fire. Mongolian barbecue is traditionally prepared in a large wok or a large cast iron pan over open flames. Use a grill or fire with a very hot temperature. A lively-flaming wood fire is ideal. (If a fire is not possible, cook over high heat on an indoor range). Let your wok or pan get extremely hot before starting, and use only enough peanut oil to prevent sticking.

The searing will not work well if there is too much oil or if the pan is not large enough to accommodate all of your vegetables without making the cooking vegetables build up excess water.

6. Sear. Throw all ingredients (except mung bean sprouts) in the pan and toss as they cook so that the vegetables and meat or tofu are seared against the hot metal. Ideally, there should be places on the vegetables or meat that are black, but don't let it burn. The flavor should be seared and smoky, but not bitter and charred.

7. Once seared, at the very end of cooking, toss the sauce with everything in your wok/pan, adding only enough to coat. Allow the sauce to thicken slightly and the food to cook a little longer. The onions and cabbage when done should be crunchy and only barely translucent around the edges.

8. Serve immediately over rice. Garnish with mung bean sprouts and cilantro. Enjoy!


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    • profile image

      snizz 8 months ago

      This is exactly the sauce at my MBBQ! Thanks for saving lots of money in the future! I've made it at home for the last three days!

    • profile image

      GT Reader 5 years ago

      oh wow...this looks so good.

    • profile image

      Dan C 6 years ago

      The yellow noodles are miki noodles, available at the supermarkets

    • profile image

      alex 6 years ago

      2 years later i still enjoy this stirfry

    • profile image

      lana 6 years ago

      seems interesting

    • profile image

      Sasha Slam 6 years ago

      rice noodles are good, or rice vermicelli

    • profile image

      Sasha Ann 6 years ago

      I have tried some mongolian bbq stir fry at the malls and stuff but i noticed they had some type of orange noodles???? what are those noodles called??? if anyone knows the name of the noodles please let me know. thank you!

    • Guyana Masala profile image

      Guyana Masala 6 years ago from New Jersey

      Oh I like...

    • profile image

      alex 8 years ago

      i enjoy this stirfry

    • profile image

      Eman 8 years ago

      Looks like a winner recipe, am gonna try it today "fingers crossed" :)

    • Katherine Baldwin profile image

      Katherine Baldwin 10 years ago from South Carolina

      This looks great. I am always on the look-out for additions to my stir fry collection. Thanks