Mongolian Beef – 205 of 365

Mongolian Beef

Yes, I know.  This is not exactly Vietnamese.  But I made it in Vietnam out of presumably Vietnamese cow and vegetables so does that count?  Actually, I am guessing the meat chunks mooed in a former life for one just never knows over here.  Living abroad gives zero access to some familiar, back home dishes and inexplicable cravings mount.  I mean how strange is it that I don’t want Taco Bell in the US but over here I want a seven layer burrito so bad I can taste it.

Mongolian beef is the latest item to work its way up the food chain.  How is it even possible that I want  American style Asian food though I live in Asia where the real deal simmers in its full delicious glory out on the sidewalks.

A while back I recreated Panda Express orange chicken (#180), and here is another yet another creation from  My friend Toby back in the States tipped me off to this one as it is his favorite dish at Pei Wei Asian Diner, a part of P.F. Chang’s.  I have never tasted anything from Pei Wei but can say this one tastes just like most Mongolian beefs I’ve had Stateside.  The sweet, slightly tangy sauce and thin slices of beef nicely caramelized around the edges would be at home in any takeaway container.

Of course this being Vietnam, sourcing everything required two hours of shopping in the street market, grocery store and butcher shop.  The mushrooms proved most interesting since they have always been for me the basic white balls in the blue Styrofoam tray from the grocery store or the metallic tasting, thin sliced canned variety.  Surely you’ve seen both of these, right?  Leave it to Vietnam to throw a curve ball my way.

Strange Vietnamese Mushrooms

Scouring the street market behind my apartment for anything even somewhat resembling a mushroom led me to a metal pan nestled between cucumbers and onions at one random sidewalk vendor’s sidewalk tarp.  Some spongy looking balls got my attention, and of course I had no clue how to ask what they were.  I took my chances and exchanged the equivalent of a dollar for a large bag of these fungus looking things.

These definitely felt like a mushroom but their appearance said otherwise for I have never seen one completely cloaked in a rubbery sheath.  I broke into one and lo and behold an actual mushroom resides under that thin dirty skin.  Not knowing if this coating was edible or not, the pile of them went straight into the trash after I spent five minutes peeling them off.  My mind went into overdrive wondering if the shell was hallucinogenic or even worse a ticking gut bomb that would bring me to my knees before the porcelain bathroom god.

A later visit to our good friend Google confirmed this covering called the pellicle is indeed quite normal.  Other parts named vulva, mycelium, and head made me feel so dirty for even looking at pictures of this mushroom porn.  Who knew mushrooms were so sexual?

Weird Vietnamese mushrooms aside, this recreation of Mongolian beef hit the spot.  It tastes just like Chinese food in America.  I will be making it again.



8 ounces flank steak or beef tenderloin

4 tablespoons corn starch

4 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 teaspoon sesame oil

½ teaspoon fresh grated ginger

2 garlic cloves minced

1/3 cup soy sauce

1/3 cup water

1 teaspoon Maggi seasoning

1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar

½ cup brown sugar

4 ounces white button mushrooms, stems removed and quartered

2-3 scallions diced


Slice beef very thin, approximately 1/4 to 3/8 inches thick.

Place meat between sheets of plastic wrap and use a meat tenderizer and gently pound meat into uniform pieces. If you are using skirt steak cut the meat diagonally, it will help make the meat more tender.

Place corn starch in a bowl and dip steak pieces into corn starch and shake off excess corn starch. Allow the corn starch dipped pieces of meat to rest for 5 t0 10 minutes so the coating sticks to the meat. While the meat is resting you can continue to prep the remaining ingredients.

In a wok, heat vegetable oil and sesame oil.

Saute beef until just done, and the outside begins to crisp. Remove meat from pan. You may need to do this a few pieces at a time.

Once all of the meat has been cooked and removed from the pan, add minced ginger and garlic. Saute ginger and garlic for approximately 60 seconds, the remaining oil should become very fragrant.

Add soy sauce, water, Maggi seasoning, brown sugar, and rice wine vinegar.

Stir until the sauce thickens, return meat to pan, and add quartered button mushrooms to the pan. Cook for another 60 seconds or so and add half of the chopped scallions.

When serving the Mongolian beef add remaining scallions to the dish.

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Categories: Vietnamese Food

2 Comments on “Mongolian Beef – 205 of 365”

  1. July 10, 2012 at 2:17 pm #

    I think the mushrooms you bought are called Straw Mushrooms or “nấm rơm” in Viet. You can only get the canned variety of this mushroom here in the states, and a lot of asian takeout places use it in their dishes so you aren’t completely off the beaten path.

    • July 10, 2012 at 2:24 pm #

      Thanks! I am glad I unwittingly picked a mushroom at home in takeout since I was trying to recreate a dish from back home.

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