Taking classic Asian take-out dishes and figuring out a healthier way to make them at home is one of my favorite kitchen challenges. Partly because I am almost always in the mood for any type of Asian take-out and also because I am always shocked by how many calories many Asian dishes have that are completely unnecessary.
With so much extra oil and sugar, it’s normally not that hard to make a delicious dish that is much better for you than the take-out version.
This healthier Mongolian Beef recipe uses a simple sauce of soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, hoisin, chili paste, and a touch of sugar. Once that is made, the rest of the meal comes together in about 5 minutes. The beef cooks up in 2-3 minutes, the green onions are added, and then everything cooks in the sauce until it thickens up. Served with some brown rice, noodles, or cauliflower rice and it is one delicious, healthy meal.
One more quick recipe trick! If you have time, place your beef in the freezer for about an hour before slicing. Slightly freezing the beef makes it so much easier to slice. Trust me, it is well worth the extra step and will save you tons of time when it comes to prepping the recipe.
Plus you will get more uniform, thinner pieces of beef. Don’t worry about defrosting it either. The thin slices defrost almost immediately since they aren’t frozen through.
How to make Mongolian Sauce?
The key to making Mongolian beef is the sweet, savory, and slightly spicy sauce. It adds so much flavor to the dish and is addictively delicious. In fact, I will usually make a large batch whenever I make this dish and keep it in the fridge for quick stir-fries or to serve over veggies. Here’s how to make a big batch of lightened up Mongolian stir fry sauce.
- 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
- 3 tbsp. ginger, minced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2.5 tbsp Asian garlic chili paste (like sambal oelek)
- 2.5 tbsp vegetable oil (or coconut oil)
- 4 tsp. sugar (leave out for low carb/Clean eating)
- 4 tsp. cornstarch
Simply mix together all the ingredients and store in an airtight container in the fridge. Use for quick stir-fries, over veggies, over rice or grains, and to cook any lean proteins. One of my favorite quick meals is to brown a pound of lean ground turkey, a bag of coleslaw mix, and add this sauce. So good and so easy.
Recipe Ideas & Customization
There are so many ways you can adapt this recipe to make it work perfectly for your family and preferences. Here are some of our favorites.
- Let’s start with spice. You can make this recipe as mild or as spicy as you like. Simply adjust the amount fo Asian garlic chili paste (or Sriracha) you add. Remember you can always add more on top for those whon like things extra spicy.
- The same goes for sweetness. To keep things healthy, I limited the amount to sugar in the recipe. Traditional Mongolian beef is fairly sweet, so to make it more authentic and sweet, you can add some extra sugar. Dark brown sugar is what is traditionally used.
- This works great with different proteins. Thinly sliced chicken breast or chicken thighs are the most popular swap. Pork will work as well. Or you may want to try this Mongolian Chicken that’s made with ground chicken or this tofu version if want something meatless.
- Add veggies! I love adding extra veggies to stir-fries. Cook the veggies before cooking the beef and set aside. Then stir them back in with the sauce. Depending on how much you add, you may need to double up the sauce recipe. We love adding cabbage, snap peas, broccoli, cauliflower, or an Asian veggie mix.
Side Dish Ideas
To make it easy to turn this recipe into a meal, I love sharing side dish ideas. Since this dish is inspired by Chinese takeout, I almost always serve it with some kind of steamed rice or fried rice. Then I always add some veggies. Here are some easy ideas for what to serve with Mongolian beef.
- Steamed rice is probably the easiest option. To make it extra easy, I usually buy the frozen brown rice or pre-cooked brown rice on nights I know I will be in a rush.
- If fried rice is more your style, consider this Cauliflower Fried Rice or Vegetable Fried Rice.
- When it comes to veggies, I usually make some Simple Stir Fried Veggies, Sesame Snap Peas, or this 10 Minute Cabbage Stir Fry.