Mongolian Beef and Spring Onions

Did you know Mongolian beef actually has nothing to do with the nation of Mongolia?

Believe it or not, it’s true. Mongolian grills have become quite popular in recent years because the food is cooked in front of the customers, who are often free to choose whatever meat and vegetables they want. While their origins aren’t what people expect, there’s no questioning the taste: when it’s cooked well, it’s an excellent bite that’s full of flavor.

Is Mongolian Beef Really Mongolian?

No. Mongolian beef and what the Western world knows as Mongolian barbecue actually has nothing to do with the nation of Mongolia. Mongolian beef actually comes from Taiwan and was the creation of Wu Zhaonan, a chef in China before the Chinese Civil War. Prior to the war, Wu learned his style of cooking in Beijing, and his barbecued beef was derived from Beijing Xiaoguozi barbecue.

However, when he was ready to open a restaurant, it was 1951 and he along with the non-Communists had fled to the Republic of China, also known as Taiwan. Wu knew that opening a restaurant named after Beijing, which was now the capital of the People’s Republic of China, would not be a wise decision in the Republic of China, so he instead named his style after Mongolia, which was an independent nation but considered by the ROC to be part of its territory, making the name acceptable in Taiwan.

The rest of the world has known Wu’s style as Mongolian cuisine ever since. In actuality, mutton, not beef, is most commonly eaten in Mongolia, and barbecue is virtually non-existent.

Why Add Spring Onions?

There are two excellent reasons to include spring onions in your Mongolian beef recipe. The first is flavor. Spring onions, also known as scallions, add a simple bit of fresh, tangy flavors that can brighten up the beef and give it a totally different taste than simply beef in sauce. The second is because spring onions add a lot of vital nutrients without adding calories. The calorie count in a spring onion is just 5 calories, but they’re an excellent source of Vitamin C and calcium, and they can help lower the levels of your bad cholesterol. In short, they’re a flavorful nutrition powerhouse with almost no drawbacks — ideal in a dinner dish!

What Variations Exist?

If you’ve ever been to a Mongolian restaurant, you know that there are an almost unlimited number of variations you can make on any Mongolian dish. If you’d like to change your protein, chicken, pork or seafood can be a great choice. Mushrooms, corn, black beans and other vegetables can create a great vegetarian dish. You can add teriyaki sauce, clear sauce or hoisin sauce to create your perfect taste. Even citrus juice, such as lime juice, can be a great addition. If you think it’ll add good flavors, try it out!

How Do You Make Mongolian Beef with Spring Onions?

The best way to make this dish is to make your sauce first, as this will be the basis of most of your flavors. Once you get it to the right thickness, set it aside and cook the beef in vegetable oil. When the beef is cooked to the right temperature, mix in the sauce to coat it and then add your green onions, which need the least cooking time. Mix together and you’re ready to eat!

Mongolian beef might not be authentic Mongolian by anyone’s definition, but when it’s time to eat, authenticity isn’t the only way to score points. As long as the flavors work, it doesn’t matter if the dish is Mongolian, Taiwanese or something else — it’ll please everyone at the table!

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