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Dine-In: Mongolian Beef

Some things are worth the wait, but a table at a crowded restaurant is rarely one of them.

The food and experience has to be outstanding if I am going to wait more than 10-15 minutes to be seated. Sure, there are a few restaurants in Chicago, New Orleans and New York where I have gladly waited for a table, but who wouldn’t wait patiently for one of Rick Bayless’ blood orange margaritas at Frontera in the Windy City? Or the fried chicken at Willie Mae’s Scotch House in Nola? Worth the wait every time. Otherwise, you’re going to find me at home on a Friday night, cooking away the week’s stresses and relaxing into a weekend groove.  It’s not easy for me to shift from work week to weekend, and I’ve found that time in the kitchen helps, especially if it involves lots of chopping.

Tonight we’re making my older son’s favorite: Mongolian Beef. Will requests this recipe more than anything else I make.  It does take a bit of prep work, but it’s the perfect time to pour a glass of wine, turn on some music and let the kitchen do its magic.

Much nicer than a loud, crowded restaurant, wouldn’t you say?

Mongolian Beef
Serves 4 

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
2 tablespoons fresh garlic, chopped
1 cup soy sauce
3/4 cup water
1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar
Vegetable oil, for frying
2 pounds flank steak
1/2 cup cornstarch
4 large green onions, sliced on the diagonal 

For the sauce, add oil to a medium saucepan over low to medium heat. Don’t let the oil get too hot before adding the ginger and garlic to the pan.  Stir for 5 seconds and quickly add soy sauce and water. You want the oil to capture the flavors of the garlic and ginger, but if you’re not careful the garlic will burn and turn bitter. 

When heated, add the brown sugar and raise the heat to allow the sauce to boil for 5 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Set aside. 

Slice the flank steak by tilting your knife at a 45° angle against the top of the steak. This allows you to get wider, flatter pieces of meat. Dip each piece into the cornstarch, allowing just a thin layer to adhere. Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a wok or skillet until hot, but not smoking. 

Add steak to the oil and flash sauté for no more than two minutes. Do not overcook. Flank steak is tough when well done, and these thin pieces don’t take long at all. Remove steak from wok or skillet using a slotted spoon, and drain on paper towels. Discard hot oil properly. 

Return the wok and steak to the stove. Add the sauce and stir-fry for one minute until well coated and heated through. Add green onions and cook 1-2 more minutes.  

Serve immediately over hot cooked rice.

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