The onset of autumn is always bittersweet for me. I used to be a “fall person”, but it seems as I get older, the more I like summer! And I really hate to say farewell and sleep-tight to my summer gardens. But the start of a new season also means football, Grandma’s quilts, hot chocolate, crackling fires in the fireplace ~ and another Secret Recipe Club assignment! 😀
This month, I’ve been assigned a blogger that I just adore! Her name is Sara, she’s cute as a button, and I think I’ll just adopt her! 😉 😀 Just a little darling with strawberry blonde hair and a Grad Student from Berkeley, California, the “Sunshine State”! And Sara is definitely full of sunshine! 😀 (Nice to meet you, Sara! 😀 ) She’s a fellow midwesterner, originally from Ohio, who’s engaged to be married and has been very busy kicking-up her cooking skills by treating her roommates to all kinds of fabulous foods! I’m sure they were all quite lovingly spoiled, and terribly miss her and her cooking since she and her fiancé, Tim, moved to Boston!
I’ve really enjoyed reading her blog, Cupcake Muffin, and yet again, had a VERY difficult time deciding what to make! I called the hubs over to check out a “few”, (actually about 15!!), and he said, in typical guy fashion, “Where’s the beef ones?” 😉 So down I scrolled to the beef, and he wanted the very first one listed! Her “Mongolian Beef and Gai Lan“! We both love Asian cuisine, and I could hardly wait to make it!!
Though I let the hubs decide, I also had my eye on many other recipes of Sara’s, including her Pecan French Toast with Autumn Fruit Sauce, Mini Chocolate Doughnuts, Roasted Pear Salad, Mexican Zucchini-Corn Soup, Midwestern Enchiladas, Sicilian Pork & Sausage Ragu, lots of amazing pizza recipes including Pizza Bianca e Verde that looks to DIE for OMG, and even one of her fiancés recipes that they enjoy making together, their Crock Pot Beef Stew! 😀 She also enjoys those very special times cooking with her Mom and Aunt, and has a fantastic collection on her blog that you’ll really enjoy seeing and reading about! So pop on over and check out her blog, “Cupcake Muffin“, and be sure to subscribe so that you don’t miss any! 😉
Now, on to the one my hubby and I decided upon! 😀
I knew we were going to love this the split second we saw it. And knowing my hubby’s appetite…I also figured that 3 servings would just not do. So I doubled it! 😉 And I am SO GLAD that I did! 😀
I used a 2 lb. whole flank steak that I sliced very thinly with the help of it being partially frozen. Don’t be afraid to cook with flank steak! Though it’s one of the tougher cuts of meat, if sliced thinly against the grain, it will end up being melt-in-your-mouth tender! Sliced and cooked/grilled properly, it’s the ideal meat to use for steak fajitas, too! 😉
You can see here how to properly slice flank steak…
I can’t stress enough how important it is to slice thinly against the grain! Probably the key to this whole recipe, really. If the meat is tough, the whole dish would not be edible. So take your time, and partially freeze the steak, yeps, to get thinner slices much easier. Here are the slices all done…
Once the steak is sliced, the rest is easy-street! I had to cook this slightly differently and reverse the cooking order since doubling the recipe required me to cook the meat in two batches. So I decided to cook the meat first, then proceed on. This worked beautifully.
I had the sauce all ready to go before starting…
While the oil was heating up, I lightly coated the flank steak strips with the cornstarch….
I stopped taking photos at this point so that I wouldn’t ruin it! But the only thing you missed was searing the meat in two separate batches, removing from the pan when done into a bowl, then the sauce was added to the pan and simmered for 2 minutes, the meat was added back in along with some assorted sliced mushrooms, and cooked down until nicely rich and thickened. Just basic cooking. 😉 When done, I added in the snipped green onion! And that’s all there is to it! I didn’t pay attention to the time, as I was REALLY enjoying this and having a blast, but I probably simmered this for at least 8-10 minutes, as I wanted a nice thick sauce. But as Sara says, simmer until it’s the consistency that you prefer. And I could not agree more. Always, always, always make things to suit yourself as you’re the one who is going to be eating it. Right? 😀
By this time, my hubby couldn’t take it anymore and snuck into the kitchen for a peek, because the entire house smelled so amazingly wonderful!! 😀
This recipe is absolutely fantastic!! This will be a favorite, and permanent addition to our “Asian Rotation”! 😉 No need to order carry-out for this folks, and it really is easy to make! The only tiny changes I made, which are barely changes at all, were that I doubled it, added some mushrooms, cut back on the (dark) brown sugar as Sara suggested, and added more green onions for garnish was all! Seriously, this was plate lickin’ good! 😉
This was THE BEST Mongolian Beef that I’ve ever had! It also received an equally high THUMBS UP review from my hubby as well! The flavor was incredible and the steak….OMG….yes, melt-in-your-mouth-tender. 😉 I can’t thank Sara enough for making me look like an Iron Chefette! 😀
***But wait!! There’s more!! I know, right?!! She also included with this, a fabulous recipe for a side dish of Gai Lan with Asian Dressing, too!! 😀
Not a single – – all two of them – – grocery store in our area carried Gai Lan, “Chinese Broccoli”. So I had to settle for some broccolini, and I was actually VERY lucky to get that. The produce managers hate us. I swear they run and hide every time they see us coming! 😀 Hilarious!! 😀 But we know all of their hiding places now. 😉 I do wish people in our area were more open to different culture’s cuisines. There’s NOTHING I won’t try. 😉 I guess that makes me a full-blooded American. 😉
Anyways, we’re slowly convincing them to try more things! 😉 And at least they’re now carrying “broccolini”! 😉 😀 And I’m thrilled to have gotten to make this perfect dish to accompany the Mongolian Beef! Since broccolini is only a mere sub for Gai Lan, I added a bit of kale to it, to at least have a bit more of an authentic resemblance, and these vegetables worked very nicely as a substitute.
I only steamed the broccolini with the kale placed on top for 10 minutes, as we enjoy our veggies crisp-tender. So if you enjoy yours fully-cooked, just check after cooking each additional minute until it’s “just right” for you. This cooks quickly, though, so be careful that you don’t turn it to mush, just the same as can happen to regular broccoli or asparagus. 😉 Then just remove immediately and place into a serving dish, pour the dressing over, lightly toss, and you’re all set! 😀
Here is the finished dish of Sara’s “Gai Lan with Asian Desssing” …
I cannot even tell you how much fun I had making Sara’s wonderful recipes! WOK ‘n ROLL it was good!! 😀 These dishes were right up our alley and they tasted BETTER than any Chinese restaurant anywhere NEAR here! BOTH dishes were fabulous and will be made many, many times more, and even for company, as I would be proud to serve this to even the pickiest and most important of guests. I SO hope you try these recipes! 🙂 They’re easy and so much better than Chinese take-out!
Welp, you all, that concludes this month’s Secret Recipe Club assignment! I hope that you’ll enjoy these recipes as much as we did, and I’ll see ya soon! 😀 ~Kelly
- For Mongolian Beef:
- 2 lb. flank steak, partially frozen, thinly sliced crossways against the grain
- ½ cup cornstarch
- 3 Tbl. canola oil
- 1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
- 2 Tbl. minced garlic, 4 large cloves finely minced or grated
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup soy sauce, *use Low-Sodium kind if sensitive to salt
- ⅔ cup dark brown sugar*, can sub light brown sugar
- 1 tsp. red pepper flakes, I might have been a wee bit heavy-handed 😉
- 1 (6-8 oz.) cont. fresh shitaki or mixed fresh sliced mushrooms, *optional (my own addition)
- 6 large green onions, snip green part at an angle into ½" pcs., (*plus more for garnish if desired)
- 6-8 servings cooked white rice
- For Gai Lan (Chinese Broccoli) with Asian Dressing:
- ½ to ¾ pound bunch of Gai Lan (Chinese broccoli), *can sub fresh broccolini and kale, see note
- ½ tsp. finely grated fresh ginger, or to taste
- 1 clove garlic, finely grated
- ½ tsp. minced fresh red or green hot chile pepper, more for hot
- 1 tsp. minced red mild or sweet pepper*
- ½ Tbl. sesame oil
- 1½ Tbl. olive oil
- ½ Tbl. soy sauce
- juice of ½ a small lime
- ½ tsp. balsamic vinegar
- ½ tsp. honey*
- dash salt, to taste*
- For Mongolian Beef:
- Partially freeze flank steak, slice into thin slices against the grain. Pat them dry with paper towels and toss with the cornstarch, completely coating each piece. (*Place in a strainer and shake off excess cornstarch only if needed.)
- In glass measuring pitcher, whisk together the rest of the Mongolian Beef ingredients.Set aside.
- Heat 1½ Tbl. oil in a wok (or large frying pan) over medium-high/high heat and add half of the steak slices. Stir and toss until seared and browned. Remove to bowl. Repeat with second batch adding rest of oil first. Set aside. (Tongs work well for this step.)
- Turn down heat to medium, and pour in sauce mixture. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes, then add seared steak slices (*and mushrooms if desired).
- Continue cooking and simmering, stirring as needed, until sauce reaches desired thickness.
- Add the snipped green onions, and cook 30 seconds more.
- Serve over rice with Gai Lan. (*Garnish Mongolian Beef with more snipped green onions if desired.)
- For Gai Lan:
- Steam the gai lan for 8-10 minutes, until just tender (*same amount of time for broccolini & kale).
- Meanwhile, make the dressing. Grate the ginger and garlic into a bowl. Add the chile, sesame oil, olive oil, soy sauce, lime juice, vinegar, honey and salt to taste. Whisk to combine. Taste and adjust ingredients to your own preference.
- Toss the sauce with the cooked greens and serve with Mongolian Beef and rice.
(*I used 10 oz. broccolini before trimming ends and 1 cup packed torn kale in place of the Gai Lan.)
A "*" after an ingredient indicates a slight change from the original recipe.