I am a Chinese food junkie, so realizing that it wasn't safe for me to get my favorite take-out anymore was a bit disheartening. I grew up going to (and still love) a small Chinese restaurant in Los Banos, California that was the sight of some of my parent's first dates and most of my childhood birthdays. Even now, when we visit from Florida, the owner comes out to say hello.
My favorite dish there?
Well, if I have to pick just one...
it would be hard...
almost painful, really...
but I think I'd have to go with Mongolian Beef. That sweet and spicy combination, the tender fried meat, the just barely wilting green onions...delicious.
I've been playing around with a few different recipes for the past few weeks and I think I finally hit on one that we love. I'd love to be able to tell you that it makes a great leftovers lunch, but we haven't had any - even my picky-picky eater enjoys it! Soy sauce is replaced with tamari (gluten-free and slightly stronger in flavor), cornstarch makes a great crust on the meat and sucanat and molasses are a little less processed than the brown sugar in many of the other recipes I've found. Oh, and the carrots - they're just some extra yummy-ness.
Make the sauce by heating 2 tsp of vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over med/low heat.
Be careful not to get the oil too hot - you want to saute, not deep fry the garlic.
Add garlic to the pan and saute for a minute or two. Add the ginger.
I've found I prefer powdered ginger in this recipe - the flavor in fresh ginger can be a bit unpredictable at times.
Add the soy sauce and water, and then dissolve the sucanat in the sauce and add the molasses. Allow sauce to simmer for a few minutes or until it begins to thicken.
If the sauce doesn't thicken up as much as you think it should, don't worry. When you add it to the meat later, it will.
Remove sauce from the heat and set aside.
Slice the flank/round/skirt steak against the grain into 1/4" thick bite-size slices.
Dip the steak pieces into the cornstarch to apply a very thin dusting to both sides of each piece of beef, and allow to set up for 10-15 minutes before cooking.
Sooo important - allow the cornstarch to set up will help the cornstarch form a crust of sorts for sauteeing.
Heat up one cup of oil in a skillet or wok.
I prefer a deep skillet - it gives more pan surface to saute on.
In batches, add the beef to the oil and sauté for just two minutes, or until the beef begins to darken on the edges. Stir the meat around and flip so that it cooks evenly.
Definitely do this step in batches and be careful not to crowd the meat. It's worth it to take your time on this step - I just transfer the cooked meat to a plate and replenish the oil if necessary.
Continue until all meat is cooked. Once all meat is sauteed, dump out the oil and place the skillet back over the heat.
Briefly saute carrots for a minute or two, then add in all of the meat.
The carrots are totallly optional, but really good!
Add the sauce, cook for one minute while stirring, then add all the green onions.
This is where that sauce that might seem too thin is going to meet up with some of the cornstarch crust from the meat and make something thick and lovely.
Cook for one more minute, then remove everything to a serving dish.
Serve with brown rice.
Optional add-ins: white onion, bell peppers, mushrooms
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