Prior to becoming the redneck royalty I am today, many moons ago, I was once a simple college student in a small Georgia town. One of the traditions passed down to the newbies in the crowd I ran with was the hour and a half road-trip to the north side of Atlanta to a small Mongolian BBQ place.
You could be a complete rookie and order off the menu or you could take giant bowl in hand and make your way down the sizeable raw buffet, picking and choosing your own recipe. It was glorious! There was every protein imaginable: beef, chicken, pork, fish and even shrimp. Then you could choose your own veggies. There was the peas, carrots, and onions you would expect, but you could also grab some bean sprouts, snow peas, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts and even those cute little baby corn cobs. And finally, you could mix your own sauces, ladling a concoction of garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, Hoisin, oyster sauce, red pepper infused oils and so many more.
Once your bowl was filled with deliciousness, you waited in line until you could pass your ingredients through the plexiglass window and watch the chef work his magic on a huge circular griddle. Steam filled his booth as our chef flipped our meals back and forth with giant metal spatulas until it was ready. There was no waiting politely for everyone else to get their meals and no real conversations being carried out as we all stuffed our faces, the silence punctuated by occasional groans of supreme bliss.
How I miss those days. Scratch that, I just really miss that food. No recipe I’ve found has ever compared, but I keep trying. Until then, I’ve found this “tastes like” recipe that’s supposed to be a copycat of P.F. Chang’s Mongolian Beef. It has a LOT of ginger, so I choose to cut back, but to each their own!
1 lb. flank steak
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 or 2 tsp. ginger, minced
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup water
1/2 to 3/4 cup brown sugar (to taste)
1 cup vegetable oil, divided
6 green onions, cut diagonally into 2″ pieces
Cut the steak against the grain into 1/4-inch pieces. Place in a bowl with the cornstarch and toss until evenly coated.
Reserve 1 Tbsp. of oil for later and heat the rest in a skillet to medium heat. Deep fry the steak in a couple batches for approx. 2 minutes each or until brown. Drain on a paper towel lined plate.
In a separate skillet, heat the 1 Tbsp. of reserved oil on medium high heat. Add ginger and garlic and saute for about 1 minute. Add the soy sauce, water, and brown sugar, stirring until the sugar is melted. Bring it to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes or until the sauce thickens.
Add the meat and onions, coating well with the sauce and simmer for 2 more minutes. Serve hot on a bed of rice or noodles.
**I choose to reduce the amount of ginger and use powdered instead of fresh. I also use pre-minced garlic and a lesser amount of brown sugar.**