Mongolian beef in a wok.

Mongolian Beef

From The Woks of Life cookbook, this crispy Mongolian beef is every bit as good as the version served at your favorite Chinese restaurant.

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 15 Minutes
Total Time: 45 Minutes, plus 1 hour to marinate


For Marinating the Beef

  • 1 pound beef flank steak, sliced against the grain into ¼-inch-thick slices
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable (or neutral) oil
  • 2 teaspoons Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
  • 1 teaspoon regular soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda

For the Sauce

  • ¼ cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • ¾ cup hot water
  • ¼ cup regular soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dark soy sauce (see note)

For Coating and Searing the Beef

  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • ⅔ cup vegetable (or neutral) oil

For the Rest of the Dish

  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 8 dried red chilies (optional)
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 4 scallions, white and green parts separated and cut on an angle into 2-inch pieces
  • 1½ tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons water


Marinate the Beef

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the beef with the oil, Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry), regular soy sauce, cornstarch, water, and baking soda. Marinate for 1 hour.

Make the Sauce

  1. In a small bowl, dissolve the brown sugar in the hot water. Mix in the regular soy sauce and dark soy sauce.

Coat and Sear the Beef

  1. In a medium bowl, dredge the marinated beef slices in the ½ cup cornstarch until thoroughly coated.
  2. Heat the oil in a wok or large nonstick skillet over high heat until just before it starts to smoke. Working in batches so as not to crowd the pan, spread the beef slices evenly in the pan and shallow-fry them undisturbed for 1 minute on each side to achieve a crusty coating. Transfer the beef to a plate and turn off the heat.

Assemble the Dish

  1. Drain most of the oil from the pan, reserving 1 tablespoon. Wipe the pan clean with a paper towel, then add the reserved tablespoon of oil. Over medium-high heat, add the ginger and whole dried chilies (if using—if you’d like the dish spicier, break 1 or 2 chilies in half). After 15 seconds, add the garlic and the scallion whites. Stir-fry for another 15 seconds. Add the sauce and simmer for 2 minutes.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch with the water to make a slurry, then slowly stir it into the pan.
  3. Add the beef and the green parts of the scallions. Toss everything together for 30 seconds, until the scallions are wilted and there is almost no standing sauce. Serve.
  4. Note: Dark soy sauce is saltier, sweeter, and a bit thicker than regular soy sauce. It is used to flavor dishes and also darken the color of sauces, and you only need one to two teaspoons. Dark soy sauce is available at Asian markets or online. If you don’t have any, you can simply omit it. However, your dish will be lighter in color. If you want your dish to look like the photograph, don’t leave it out. (Alternatively, you can make a substitute by combining 2 teaspoons soy sauce, ½ teaspoon molasses, and ⅛ teaspoon sugar.)

Pair with

Nutrition Information

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  • Per serving (4 servings)
  • Calories: 760
  • Fat: 60 g
  • Saturated fat: 10 g
  • Carbohydrates: 31 g
  • Sugar: 9 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Protein: 25 g
  • Sodium: 1,149 mg
  • Cholesterol: 70 mg