Best Mongolian Beef Season 1 Round 2
Sometimes it’s hard to plan dinner. And I really don’t like thinking about what to make for dinner before 3 pm, which means I usually need something quick and easy to make because there’s not enough time left to defrost or prepare a ton of ingredients. My family is generally pretty good about eating what I make, but I don’t like the tug-of-war over how much they should eat. Mongolian Beef solves those problems. It is quick to make, my family loves it, and generally I have the ingredients on hand. Most Mongolian Beef recipes call for flank steak, but a couple of the recipes throughout the tournament called for sirloin, this is a much cheaper and generally more available option. The two types of steak could be exchanged.
Because I only did 2 recipes in each round, I’m discussing both rounds 3 and 4 in this post.
Round 3 & 4 Contenders
Unlike Rocky 2, these contenders made for a fantastic sequel.
In Round 3 the green corner was represented by The Woks of Life, Mongolian Beef recipe.
The orange corner in round 3 was represented by Sweet and Savory Meals, PF Chang’s Mongolian Beef Copycat.
Representing the green corner in round 4 was Taste and See, 30-Minute Mongolian Beef.
In round 4 the orange corner was represented by Platings and Pairings, Easy Mongolian Beef.
The Woks of Life recipe suggests marinating the sliced beef in oil, soy sauce and cornstarch. After the meat is marinated you lightly cover with more cornstarch. This is basically a double breading, and makes for a crispier bite. The sauce is cooked in the same pan as the meat but not at the same time. This brings more flavor to the sauce. Red chili peppers are an optional ingredient, I opted for crushed red chili pepper flakes because I had it on hand. I also swapped minced ginger for powdered, and garlic powder over fresh chopped. Fresh ingredients are generally more flavorful, but I like to use what I have on hand because I think those are the ingredients most people have on hand.
Sweet and Savory Meals recipe does not call for seasoning the meat before dredging in the cornstarch and frying. The sauce is made in a separate pot and poured over the meat in the skillet. It is a basic sauce except for the addition of sesame oil. This is one of my favorite Asian flavorings. Sesame oil comes in a small bottle, and can be found in the Asian foods section of most grocery stores. It really improves the flavor of any Asian dish.
Taste and See provides detailed information about preparing the meat, but there isn’t additional seasoning for the meat. The sauce and meat are cooked in the same pan, but not at the same time. This recipe also calls for chili oil or red pepper flakes. I used red pepper flakes but I would love to try it with chili oil because oils give an extra punch of flavor. As a brief explanation, many soy sauces contain gluten, so this recipe calls for tamari sauce. There are other gluten free soy sauces available and coconut amino sauce that is also gluten free.
Platings and Pairings recommends freezing the meat for about 15 minutes to help with slicing. The meat is coated in plain cornstarch and fried in vegetable oil. The sauce calls for rice wine vinegar and a little more soy sauce and brown sugar than other recipes. We like a lot of sauce so this was a bonus in our family.
I mentioned in Round 1 and 2 about needing a good knife and knife sharpener. I also love having a few cutting boards in different colors to avoid cross-contamination.
There were a couple of different oils mentioned in these recipes. I love toasted sesame oil, you can find it in your grocery store, but just in case you can buy it here. I’ve never tried chili oil, but I just bought some of this and thought you might like to try it as well.
Tips for better beef, look for a steak with small webbing strips of marbling. This means better flavor. Most flank steaks are pretty lean, but there should still be some webbing of fat. Cut the beef against the grain for a more tender piece. The meat should be room temperature before cooking, again to help it be more tender. It also helps to choose a high quality meat.
I like seasoning my meat before cooking it. And I like seasoning the oil with a little garlic, onion, and even ginger. I followed the recipes in these rounds but if I’m going to make it my own way, I salt and pepper the steak and add a little sesame oil to the vegetable or canola oil. I would not recommend olive oil for frying. Olive oil has a low heat point which means it tastes bitter if it gets too hot. If you don’t want to use canola or vegetable oil, a healthier option is grapeseed oil. This has a lot of the same heart health properties as olive oil but a higher heat point.
Mongolian Beef Winners
The winner from round 3 was Sweet and Savory Meals with the addition of sesame oil. Platings and Pairings won the round 4 head-to-head. Adding rice wine vinegar boosted the flavor, and we loved having extra sauce for the rice.
Check out the winners from rounds 1 and 2. Look forward to the winner from the finals.
What are some other quick and easy go-to dinner options your family loves? What do you wish your family loved but you haven’t found the right recipe yet? Let me do the work for you!
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