Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Mongolian Beef Too Good to Be Legal

(Printable Recipe)
If you love PF Chang's Mongolian Beef, you're going to love the perfect taste of this super lean, carb light version. The original is fantastic but requires a good bit of brown sugar to get it there. This recipe avoids that while keeping all the flavor. Don't be lured by the brown sugar version of Splenda - it's just brown sugar with Splenda mixed in and that just doesn't work if you're trying to eliminate sugar altogether! However, brown sugar is made with white sugar and molasses, so using one small tsp of molasses goes a long way toward replacing that flavor element in this dish. Yes, it is a natural sweetener but nothing like refined sugar. Molasses is one of the few sweet things that is good for your body. It has a low glycemic index, it's loaded with beneficial minerals, and it actually helps your body absorb calcium. Enough lesson time. Let's cook.

We're going to start and end with a marinade. So to begin, pour up a cup of Soy Sauce and 1/2 cup water. Add a couple of pressed garlic cloves, the tsp or 2 of molasses, 2 TBS of plain Splenda, and fine grate/rasp about 2" of fresh peeled ginger. I keep fresh ginger in the freezer so it's always on hand and can easily be grated frozen. The addition of 1 Tbs Mirin (rice wine) makes it even better. Look for it near the soy sauce and Asian brand products in any grocery. We're going to use half this mixture to marinate a flank steak and half of it we'll save for the finishing sauce. Don't pour all of it on the flank steak intending to strain it off later because you'll be surprised how much the meat absorbs!

Now, the trick to cutting flank steak the right way, across the grain, and getting it really thin is this: put it in the freezer until it just begins to get stiff, not hard frozen or you'll never get a knife through it. If you have an electric knife this job will fly!

Lay the knife at an angle across the grain, cut about 1/4" thin, then cut those pieces into squares about 2x2, so it will cook fast enough without toughening up as it browns. Now marinate all those cut pieces in a plastic bag for a couple of hours.

When ready to cook I spray a big skillet with Pam or just barely coat with olive oil. Grab a handful of the beef, squeeze out the marinade, then brown the meat on medium high heat with space in between every piece so they won't just steam in the released juices. That brown coating is so much of the flavor in this recipe. I flip every piece separately to get a good brown but watch closely and take them out just as soon as they're cooked through. This is the closest way to imitate wok fried beef with oil, without using the oil.
By the second or third pan full you can see how nicely the dark fond is developing on the bottom of the pan. Adjust the heat a bit lower if this starts to darken too much. And each time you add a piece of meat and it immediately releases some juices, push it around to let those juices bring up the fond to brown the meat. Flavor, flavor, flavor!

As soon as the last meat comes out of the skillet, pour in the remaining  marinade and 1/2 cup water and bubble it on high, scraping the bottom well. Add a big handful of green onion tops now. (Use one bunch of green onions and cut the green tops into 2-3" pieces. Save the white part for another recipe.) Let those soften up as the sauce boils down for maybe 4-5 minutes. I like to thicken the sauce for the last few minutes with a spoonful of cornstarch dissolved in about 1/4 c of water. Pour this over the beef and prepare to swoon!

1 Flank Steak
1 cup Soy Sauce

2 Cloves Garlic

2 tsp molasses

2" fresh peeled ginger

2 Tbs Splenda

1 Tbs Mirin (rice wine)

1 bunch green onions (scallions)


  1. I am definitely going to try this recipe. Looks great. Robbie and I are eating healthier (he has lost 50 pounds) and I am walking / jogging, training for the 5K (Color Run) on July 28, although I had a six week set back when I badly sprained my ankle. It's healed enough that I have started walking / jogging again. Looking forward to your recipes and posts here.

  2. Anonymous10/06/2012

    This recipe is amazing! We have had it prepared by Jan and I have also made it myself using her recipe. Easy, wonderful and almost identical to Changs Mongolian Beef. Thank you Jan, from the bottom of my stomach and heart, thank you.

    Jim S