Saturday, November 9, 2013

Mongolian Beef

Mongolia measures 603,909 square miles, making it the 19th largest country in the world. At the same time, it is the most sparsely populated country in the world. A mere 2.9 million people call it home....which is less than 5 people per square mile.

Mongolia contains very little arable land...most of it is simply vast, treeless plains. So there is not a lot to do in Mongolia except procreate. But given the sparse population, the Mongolians appear to have not mastered this form of recreation. The most famous person to hail from Mongolia was Genghis Khan. But that was some 700 years ago. So the lack of procreation appears to be holding back the chance of another hero warrior emerging as well.

The extreme Mongolian climate has a strong influence on local cuisine. Since nothing grows there, Mongolians subsist on a diet comprised primarily of meat and animal fats. Today's recipe is comprised of just that....meat and animal fat. But since few of us have animal fats in our pantry, we will substitute for that with a little bit of vegetable oil. Oh.....and because China lies to the south of Mongolia, we'll borrow a few scallions from them.

This fabulous and very hearty recipe comes from Benny Lin, owner of the Pagoda restaurant in North Pole, Alaska. It serves two. I recommend serving this with sticky rice or cooked rice noodles.

1 (16-ounce) flank steak
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon cornstarch
3 cups plus 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon ground garlic
3/4 cup (3/4-inch long) scallion slices, green and white parts
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 teaspoons soy sauce

  1. Trim the fat of the flank steak and cut into thin pieces against the grain. Marinate the meat for 1 hour in a mix of egg, cornstarch, and 2 tablespoons oil. 
  2. Heat up the wok with 3 cups of oil to 350 degrees F and add the cut up flank steak. Fry for 3 to 4 minutes, and then remove from the heat and drain well. Discard oil. 
  3. Heat the wok up again and add 2 teaspoons oil, ground garlic, all the cut up scallions, and the marinated beef. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Now add the sugar, black pepper, and soy sauce and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and serve .

    Wine pairing: A big, fruity Zinfandel

    Hatgal, Mongolia

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