Take-out at Home: Mongolian Beef

Ordering take-out can get expensive and who knows exactly what is in that plastic or Styrofoam container they hand you. After some research* I’ve found that Panda Express’ Mongolian Beef has 1000 mg of sodium per serving. PF Chang’s Mongolian Beef has 1340 mg of sodium per serving. Pei Wei’s Mongolian Beef has 1400 mg of sodium per serving. Its recommended that you do not consume more than 1500 mg of sodium daily. Now I usually don’t pay very close attention to calories or daily allowances (I’d rather just eat fresh, wholesome food) but those numbers are ridiculous. Sure, every once in a while take-out food won’t kill you but with the amount of food Americans consume from take-out restaurants and the amount of pre-packaged over-processed food products in the average American pantry, paying attention to those numbers might be necessary if we want our health and planet’s health to improve.

For those reasons (I mean 1400 mg of sodium, really!? You’d never put that much salt in your own cooking!) I’ve decided to start a new series here at Handle the Heat called Take-out at Home. I’ll be featuring recipes for take-out menu favorites but with better, fresher ingredients that are easy and quick enough to make in the same amount of time it would take you to drive to the restaurant or order your food for delivery.

*All nutritional information was found via the respective company website.

Recipe Rundown
Taste: I love the distinct flavors of garlic and ginger paired with the savory soy sauce, sweet brown sugar, and hot pepper flakes.
Texture: The beef is slightly crisp thanks to pan-frying with cornstarch and the sauce is thick and slightly syrupy.
Ease: This took less time than going out to pick up Chinese food or even having it delivered (see above).
Appearance: Don’t forget to garnish with the scallions, they add a lovely pop of green.
Pros: Quicker, cheaper, and healthier than Chinese take-out and just as tasty.
Cons: Really make sure you shake off excess cornstarch otherwise your pan might smoke a little like mine did (oops).
Would I make this again? I’ve added this to my weeknight meal rotation.


Mongolian Beef

This recipe can easily be doubled to serve 4. Some readers have suggested tossing in broccoli during the last five minutes of cooking, making this more of a wholesome one pot meal.

Yield: 2 servings


2/3 lb. flank steak, sliced across the grain
3 Tbsp. corn starch
3 tsp. canola oil, divided
1/2 tsp. grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp. (heaping) red pepper flakes
2-3 large scallions, sliced


1. Pat the steak pieces with a paper towel to get rid of any moisture. Toss the steak and cornstarch together; shake of excess cornstarch using a fine strainer.
2. Mix together the soy sauce, water, brown sugar and red pepper flakes in a small bowl or large measuring cup.
3. Heat half the oil in a wok or large fry-pan at medium-high heat and add the ginger and garlic. Cook for 30 seconds, or until fragrant, then add the soy sauce mixture. Cook for about 2 minutes and transfer back to the bowl or measuring cup.
4. Turn the heat up on the wok and add the remaining oil. Add the beef and cook, stirring until just browned.
5. Pour the sauce back in and let it cook with the meat. Simmer for around 5 minutes or until thickened. Place beef mixture on top of a bed of brown rice and garnish with scallions. Serve with a side of steamed veggies dolloped with leftover soy sauce mixture (or see note above).

From Elly Says Opa who adapted from Pink Bites

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30 Responses to “Take-out at Home: Mongolian Beef”

  1. #
    The Enchanted Cook — October 1, 2010 at 5:48 am

    This looks delicious – I'll have to give it a try!

    The Enchanted Cook

  2. #
    Jennifer — October 1, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    This looks WAY better than take out and WAY healthier, love it!!!

  3. #
    City Share — October 1, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    I love the spirit behind your new series. I will have to check back to see what comes next. The Mongolian beef looks delicious.

  4. #
    whozyerdanny — October 1, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    Great concept! I am not a fan of high sodium recipes either and this looks amazing.

  5. #
    Anonymous — October 2, 2010 at 2:27 am

    WOW! I bookmarked this yesterday and made it tonight…. such simple ingredients come together to make THIS taste?! Wonderful wonderful flavors. I'm a fan :) I put mine on a bed of quinoa, very yummy. Thanks for a great recipe!

  6. #
    Tessa — October 2, 2010 at 3:50 am

    Anonymous – Yay! I'm so glad you enjoyed it. I love quinoa!

  7. #
    Andrew — October 3, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    Hey just wanted to note that low-sodium soy sauce is just watered down soy sauce. Just add less regular soy sauce and replace the rest of the liquid with water.

  8. #
    Rebekah — October 4, 2010 at 12:52 am

    I tried this recipe tonight and it was so delicious! My bf even commented that it was better than PF Changs (his fav). I will definitely be making this again. :) Thanks, Tessa!

  9. #
    Tessa — October 4, 2010 at 2:34 am

    Andrew – Thanks for the tip!

    Rebekah – I'm so excited to hear that you and your boyfriend enjoyed the recipe!! :)

  10. #
    lemurking — October 5, 2010 at 9:30 pm

    It looks very good, Tessa. I am salivating.

    I have always had difficulty with using so little oil in other dishes – things seem to get gummy and clumpy. Is it a trick of timing, heat, or both? I tend to cook on the higher-temp side with the thought that I needed to caramelize the meat and all.

    Thoughts on that?

  11. #
    Tessa — October 5, 2010 at 10:05 pm

    LemurKing – I think the temperature of the oil is most important, esp when you aren't using a lot. It needs to be just hot enough to caramelize the meat but not too hot that it scorches or burns and smokes. But unless you're trying to cut your fat intake, I would just pour enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan (who really wants to measure teaspoons of oil if they don't have to?).

  12. #
    lemurking — October 6, 2010 at 10:39 pm

    Thanks Tessa! I'll let you know how it turns out.

    I don't want to measure teaspoons of oil. My feeling is that if my life/health is that much in the balance, give me a pound of braunschweiger, a half-cup of homemade mayo, and some challah to spread it all on, let me die happy. (That combo may make some nauseous but I allow it for myself once per year)

  13. #
    starla — October 10, 2010 at 2:06 am

    I just made this recipe and it was awesome! My husband licked his plate and the pan I cooked it all in. I added some broccoli during the last five minutes of cooking and it was perfectly cooked.
    Thanks for the recipe!

  14. #
    lemurking — October 10, 2010 at 3:48 am

    Tessa, it worked beautifully. Thank you for a wonderful recipe. On a whim I threw in a couple of handfuls of cashews and tossed it all over some stir-fried broccoli just like starla mentioned. Fantastic.

  15. #
    Tessa — October 10, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    Lemurking- hahaha that combination does sound a bit nauseating. I'm glad it turned out :)

    Starla- love the idea of throwing in some broccoli! I'm actually going to add that note to this post :) Thanks to both of you.

  16. #
    lilrant — October 23, 2010 at 12:25 am

    I can't believe I made a Chinese dish that was so wonderful and not intimidating! This recipe is the BOMB! Thank you so much for sharing it.

  17. #
    Lindsay — November 8, 2010 at 9:05 am

    Just had this for dinner. Substituted the ginger for a dash of oyster sauce (gremlins stole my ginger)and it was awesome!

  18. #
    brianna — November 18, 2010 at 4:09 am

    Thank you for this recipe, I've made it twice and loved it, as did my husband. It has become a favorite.

  19. #
    Physicser — December 3, 2010 at 1:38 am

    Found this recipe (and your blag) via foodgawker, and just tried it tonight. Both my wife and I loved it! I made one slight change, instead of using 1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes in the sauce, I used 1/2 tsp of sriracha (though I would probably up it to about 1 tsp, but we like it spicy).

  20. #
    Seizing My Day — May 9, 2011 at 5:28 am

    so simple… yum!! can't wait to try it! I love using low sodium soy… but I recently went gluten free… wonder if I can find gluten free low sodium!! =)

  21. #
    lisatoronto — June 14, 2011 at 11:49 pm

    I made this for dinner tonight– added some yellow pepper, and served it over rice. Delish!

  22. #
    Julie — August 10, 2011 at 1:29 am

    My own type of Tess – a five year old to be exact, gives this one a thumbs up! A ringing endorsement from such a picky eater.

  23. #
    Cynthia — September 11, 2011 at 4:24 am

    @lisatoronto You can use wheat free tamari for gluten free soy sauce. We're wheat free and soy free so we substitute coconut aminos. Can't wait to try this. Chinese food is my favorite cuisine, my son is Chinese and I haven't been able to eat it since having to give up gluten & soy.

  24. #
    Dwalkerrx — September 2, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    Wonderful recipe, however ,if you are concerned about sodium , low sodium soy sauce has 575 mg of sodium per tablespoon or over 3000mg in this recipe. If this serves 2 then still more sodium than the mentioned restaurants.

  25. #
    trading in forex — May 26, 2013 at 7:00 am

    I’m extremely impressed with your writing skills and also with the layout on your weblog. Is this a paid theme or did you modify it yourself? Either way keep up the excellent quality writing, it’s rare to see a great blog like this one nowadays.

  26. #
    Barbara — June 4, 2013 at 6:58 pm

    Tried this recipe tonight. Love it. I have 4 boys and my husband and I were amazed to see all of them eat this and like it!! We will definitely be making this again. Thanks for the great recipe.

  27. #
    Andrea — October 13, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    Awesome recipe! It is a hit with everyone in our family, even the picky husband and picky kids! :)

  28. #
    Luke — December 2, 2013 at 5:52 am

    This recipe rocks. I made my first ever Mongolian Beef tonight and it was an instant hit. Hard to go wrong with this gem. Tasty, easy to prepare, and easy on the pocket. Thanks!


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