Mongolian Beef and Cabbage Noodles

First, let me apologize for not yet announcing the winners of my blogiversary giveaway. I’m still trying to work out some issues with my commenting platform. Sit tight, hopefully it won’t be much longer! In the mean time, if you haven’t entered, consider yourself lucky, and take a shot!

You know that commercial where a bunch of people are eating baked pasta dishes in a nice Italian restaurant are suddenly told it’s from Pizza Hut? Well, there was a period of time last summer that I feared I’d be appearing in the Chinese food spin-off. Actually, you might have even read about. To recap, I was invited by a marketing company to dinner at a trendy Asian bistro in Boston. I went along with my friend Jen, Beantown Baker, and we even got to bring our husbands. It must be nice to have a food blogger as a spouse! We were presented four courses from a pre-fix menu, all of which were prepared by the restaurant, except for one. Do you think we were at all surprised when the “big announcement” was made that our entrees were part of a new line of frozen prepared Chinese meals? Not really. By the same token, I wasn’t very prepared to answer in front of a camera when asked how my meal compared with its takeout counterpart in terms of taste and value.

Honestly? I had no clue. It’s been years since we’ve ordered Chinese takeout. It suffices to say that once we went Thai we never went back. Thai food (and Vietnamese and Japanese, which we also like to order sometimes) is so boldly flavored and fresh tasting, and there’s something unique and special about each dish. My memories of Chinese food (and to be fair, I mean typical American Chinese food) are comprised of various meat dishes all fried in the same brown sauce and stir fried noodles and vegetables dishes tasting more like oil and salt.  In a nutshell, it all tastes pretty much the same. And let’s not the forget the batter, I recall lots of that too. Let’s face it, when you batter and fry anything, you pretty much lose all taste of what’s inside. Unless we’re talking deep-fried Oreos.

So why, all of a sudden, did I get a craving for Mongolian beef, something so reminiscent of Chinese takeout? I didn’t. I was actually put on the spot by a reader who asked for the nutritional information for a crockpot Mongolian beef recipe I posted a couple years ago. (It’s only within the past two years or so that I became consistent about posting nutritional information for my recipes.) I read my old blog post, somewhat cringing at my haphazard “rave” for the recipe. I revisited the list of ingredients, and it struck me as lengthy and awkward.

I could do better, for sure. I figured I’d create a new crockpot recipe for Mongolian beef, because heck, most people love crockpots and Mongolian beef. Then again, crockpots have a specific time and place, and to slow-cook something that’s meant to be prepared quickly and simply isn’t one of them. In fact, it can easily ruin the dish, which I suspect is what happened in the first place. So of course I could do better if I actually made the dish the way it was meant to be – with a few Cara’ Cravings tweaks, of course

I reached out to be great big ‘net and was immediately greeted by my friend Elly, who’s blog post about Mongolian beef was one of the first hits. Obviously I went right to that one. She loved it, and that was good enough for me to take it run. I added a splash of sherry for more depth of flavor. Instead of cornstarch I used peanut flour*, which is more nutritious, thickens just as nicely, and adds a nice background flavor. Finally, I used stevia instead of sugar. You know how I feel about sugar – it’s perfectly acceptable to eat by the unlimited spoonful when making cookie dough or butter cream, but needs to stay out of my dinner.
For something a little different, I served the beef over red cabbage noodles. You know what? Apparently, I do like Chinese food. Still, I won’t be ordering takeout anytime soon. This is just too good. It shines with healthy ingredients and it couldn’t be any more simple to prepare. The result is something rich and flavorful that I looked forward to eating for a second night in a row. Remember, I can’t actually compare it to whatever actual takeout Mongolian beef is supposed to taste like, but I don’t really want to, either. 

Mongolian Beef
Apated from Pink Bites, via EllySaysOpa 
Printable Recipe

1 large head of cabbage, thinly sliced into “noodles”, to yield 2 pounds
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon reduced sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar

1 1/2 lbs flank steak, trimmed and sliced thinly against the grain
1/4 cup peanut flour (PB2)* or cornstarch
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons sherry
1/4 teaspoon pure powdered stevia extract, such as NuNaturals
3 teaspoons canola or olive oil, divided
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 heaping tablespoon grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3 scallions, sliced thinly

Place the sliced cabbage in a large pot with a few inches of water. Bring to a boil, then cover and steam the cabbage for about 20 minutes, or until tender, adding more water as needed if it dries out. When the cabbage is cooked, uncover and allow any remaining liquid to evaporate, then toss with the sesame oil, soy sauce, and rice vinegar. Keep warm.

Meanwhile, place the beef in a large bowl along with the peanut flour or cornstarch and toss to coat.

Stir together the water, soy sauce, sherry, and stevia.

Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a large wok over medium-high heat, and stirfry the garlic, ginger, and crushed red pepper for about 30 seconds. Add the soy sauce mixture and cook for two more minutes; pour into a bowl and set aside.

Heat remaining oil in the wok over medium-high heat. Working in two batches if needed, add the beef and cook for about one minute per side, until nicely browned. Pour the sauce mixture back into the pan, increase heat to high, and cook for about 4-5 minutes, until thickened to your liking, adding the sliced scallions toward the end.

Divide the cabbage noodles and beef among serving plates, and serve hot.

*Peanut flour is an all-natural nut flour made from de-fatted peanuts. It can be ordered from various sources online, including Bell Plantation, where it’s marketed as a low calorie, low fat substitute for peanut butter under the brand name PB2. In addition to be using as a coating, thickener, or addition to baked goods, it can be mixed with water to form a paste or a smooth sauce, and adds peanut flavor to a variety of dishes. See my other PB2 recipes here.

Nutritional Info
Servings Per Recipe: 4
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 459.5
Total Fat: 19.8 g
Cholesterol: 85.1 mg
Sodium: 1,582.1 mg
Total Carbs: 25.1 g
Dietary Fiber: 5.3 g
Protein: 43.6 g

I am sharing this recipe at Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays on Simply Sugar and Gluten Free.
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10 Responses to “Mongolian Beef and Cabbage Noodles”

  1. 1

    shannon — April 1, 2011 @ 11:33 am Reply

    haha, i may have had chinese food once or twice in my life… but i'd had this any night of the week ;)

  2. 2

    Chrysta — April 1, 2011 @ 4:37 pm Reply

    oh wow! cool! I love the story..I actually havent had chinese food in forever either! Its been too long. and thai food. I love that you have a beautiful and fantastic recipe to make mongolian beef at home. And its healthi-fied which I LOVE=) This post rocks! Thanks hon!

  3. 3

    Joanne — April 1, 2011 @ 5:22 pm Reply

    I haven't ordered chinese take out in forever either for basically the same reasons. I would just rather eat something authentic…and really what it comes down to is that I would always rather eat sushi haha. This beef, though…has captivated my interest. Anything Cara-approved sounds good to me!

  4. 4

    Amanda L. — April 1, 2011 @ 5:58 pm Reply

    I don't think any kind of Chinese take out looks as delicious as this does!

  5. 5

    Kaytorade — April 1, 2011 @ 6:18 pm Reply

    Trying an experiment- you can delete this if you want. On the mobile site I clicked "view web version" and am commenting on the web version. That way you can rule out a variable.

  6. 6

    Mandy Begley — April 2, 2011 @ 4:15 am Reply

    Great post. It wasn't until I got down to the recipe where I understood what you meant by cabbage noodles. Very creative!

  7. 7

    Katherine: Unemployed — April 2, 2011 @ 4:29 pm Reply

    haha deep fried oreos? The cabbage noodles look amazing!

  8. 8

    Kerstin — April 3, 2011 @ 8:44 pm Reply

    Definitely better than takeout and I love your red cabbage twist! I loved Chinatown in Chicago but we're still looking for a restaurant as good here in Boston.

  9. 9

    Katherine: Unemployed — April 5, 2011 @ 1:24 am Reply

    haha deep fried oreos? The cabbage noodles look amazing!

  10. 10

    Chrysta — April 5, 2011 @ 1:24 am Reply

    oh wow! cool! I love the story..I actually havent had chinese food in forever either! Its been too long. and thai food. I love that you have a beautiful and fantastic recipe to make mongolian beef at home. And its healthi-fied which I LOVE=) This post rocks! Thanks hon!

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