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Mongolian Barbecue Stir-Fry Recipe for Beef or Tofu
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!
Mongolian Barbecue Stir-Fry Recipe
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).
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 http://hubpages.com/_melissaraydavis/hub/How_to_Cook_Tofu_Like_the_Pros 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!