Serve your next steak dinner with an Asian flare. This appealing and easy Mongolian beef is bathed in the typical sweet and salty sauce, but skips the frying by cooking the steak sous vide or on the grill.
By the way, Mongolian beef did not originate in Mongolia.
What to expect
The sous vide or grill method in this recipe is a twist on the Chinese-American dish that is typically coated in cornstarch and stir-fried in oil in a large skillet or wok.
These methods are easier and don’t involve frying 🙂 The other big advantage is that you can pause for a while if you need to before the final step. Both methods work great and you’ll find instructions for both in the recipe.
Whatever version you choose, it’s the sauce that makes the dish. The key ingredients for a Mongolian beef sauce include soy, water, brown sugar, ginger and garlic. I like to amp up the flavors with orange zest and toasted sesame seeds.
The two cooking options have trade-offs:
With the sous vide method, you plunge the steak into a water bath and walk away for an hour or more. No fuss, zero stress, super tender meat and a forgiving timetable. But longer cooking time and the extra optional step of browning the meat.
With the grill method, the steak cooks for 2-5 minutes per side and takes another 5-10 minutes to rest. So a quick turnaround (and great way to get dinner on the table in 20 minutes) and no fry smell!
Ingredients – tailored to your taste
Steak: Most recipes use flank steak. I prefer to use ribeye, New York Strip steak. With the sous vide method, feel free to use less tender cuts like sirloin but the cook time will be longer.
Mongolian beef sauce: contains fresh garlic, ginger, soy sauce, and brown sugar. I also add a little cornstarch to give it more body.
Garnish (optional): orange zest and toasted sesame seeds.
- Beef substitutes: Try chicken, pork, or shrimp.
- Sauce variations:
- Try adding a tablespoon or two of hoisin or oyster sauce for extra flavor.
- Vary the heat with a little bit of sriracha or red pepper flakes if you like spicy.
- Vegetables: Stir fry vegetables such as broccoli, snap peas, red pepper, shiitake mushrooms, or snow peas. Or add sliced water chestnuts for crunch.
Step by step instructions (sous vide method)
Serving option tip
Use the sauce on a whole steak or chicken breast instead of slicing it up.
- Grilling the steak is much quicker than cooking it sous vide.
- Frozen cubes of garlic and ginger are easy substitutes for fresh – no chopping or grating.
- This sous-vide beef can be made a few days ahead of time. So can the sauce. Instructions are in the recipe notes. It’s best to combine the sauce and steak just before serving though.
What to serve with Mongolian beef
Mongolian beef is a Chinese-American dish that consists of thinly sliced beef, typically stir-fried with onions and a savory sweet sauce. According to Wikipedia, Mongolian barbecue was created by a Taiwanese comedian and restauranteur and did not originate from Mongolia.
Sous vide is a cooking method where food is immersed into a water bath in a sealed bag and cooked to the precise temperature you choose. There is little chance of overcooking if you follow sous vide time guidelines, and you can achieve exceptional results with zero stress.
More sous vide recipes
If you love sous vide cooking, try our best sous vide recipes with lots of beginner tips.
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Easy Mongolian Beef (Sous Vide or Grill)
- Sous Vide equipment (or Grill)
- 3/4 pound steak (Note 1)
- seasoning: salt, black pepper, garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 3 green onions, sliced on diagonal (1-2 inches pieces)
- Garnish (optional): 1-2 tsp orange zest; 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds (Note 2)
Mongolian Beef Sauce
- 1/4 cup soy sauce, low sodium
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup brown sugar (or maple syrup)
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger (or 2 tsp if you like)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tsp) (or 1 tsp pureed garlic)
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- 2 teaspoon cornstarch
- If you are using the sous vide method, timing will depend on the thickness and quality of the steak (thicker steak, lower quality = longer cook time)
- HEAT SOUS VIDE WATER BATH : Fill water bath and set temperature to 132F/56C for medium rare (or according to your sous vide machine guidelines). Heating the water can take 10-15 minutes.
- SEASON STEAK AND PLACE IN BAG FOR SOUS VIDE: Brush steak with olive oil and sprinkle steak generously with salt and pepper (and lightly with garlic powder if desired) on both sides. Place steak in large ziploc bag. Note 3 (to vacuum seal). See Note 4 to grill steak instead.
- SOUS VIDE STEAK: Lower bag, unsealed, into water so that zip seal is just above the water line (air will be pushed out from water pressure). Seal bag. It will sink to the bottom. Cover pot/machine as per manufacturer instructions. Cook times: If steak is 1 inch thick, cook for 1-3 hours. If 1.5 inches thick, cook for 2-3 hours. If 2 inches thick, cook for 3-5 hours. If using sirloin or flank steak, cook for 3 hours.
- MAKE MONGOLIAN SAUCE: While steak is cooking sous vide, add all sauce ingredients to a skillet and heat on medium high, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes until thickened. Sauce should coat back of spoon. Taste and adjust seasonings. Add sliced green onions. Set aside.
- SEAR STEAK (OPTIONAL): For this dish, browning is not really necessary since steak will be mixed with a sauce. If preferred for presentation, remove steak from water and bag. Pat dry well with paper towels. Spray or brush steak with oil. Heat pan on very high heat. Turn on fan. Sear one or both sides of steak, pressing down, to brown/caramelize for 90 seconds total.
- FINISH DISH: Slice steak thinly. Heat up sauce if it's cooled down. Toss steak into sauce to warm for 1 minute. Garnish with orange zest and toasted sesame seeds if desired. Serve immediately over rice, quinoa or cauliflower rice.
- Type of steak to use: I like to use AAA, certified angus beef, prime or choice grade beef for this recipe as it will be the most tender. My preference is a boneless ribeye cut. Other great choices are New York striploin or tenderloin (very expensive though). Sirloin and flank steak are fine too, but will need longer cooking.
- To toast sesame seeds: Dry fry them, shaking often over in small pan over medium heat for about 5 minutes until toasted golden brown. Be careful they don’t burn.
- To vacuum seal sous vide bag (instead of using zipper sealed bag): Fold over a flap on a vacuum seal bag. Place steak inside bag and unfold the flap. Using a vaccum sealer, seal the bag and vacuum out the air as per machine instructions.
- To grill steak (instead of sous vide method): Oil or spray grill with oil and heat grill to high (450-500F/232-260C). Grill seasoned steak 2-4 minutes per side depending on thickness. Steak will read 130F on an instant thermometer (poke probe through side of steak). Let steak rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing.
- Make Ahead: This dish is best made the same day to maintain its medium rare temperature. However, steak and sauce can be made up to a day or two ahead separately. Don’t combine them.
- For sous vide method: plunge cooked steak in bag into an ice bath for 20 minutes to cool down. Refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before using, remove from bag, slice and warm briefly in pan with sauce before using.
- For grilled steak, grill steak, cool and refrigerate in sealed container. Bring to room temperature. Slice and warm briefly in pan with sauce before using.