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.
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.
How to make Take-out at Home: Mongolian Beef
Yield: 2 servings
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.
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).
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