During the 70s I worked for Seafirst Bank (remember them?) at their International Branch. I loved working there. Fabulous people to work with, great customers, and nothing like having wonderful Asian food available each and every day.

In those days, the area was known as “China Town”. (It is now more aptly referred to as the “International District”.) And more often than not I would go out for lunch on Fridays. And almost invariably I would order Mongolian Beef.

Now the Mongolian Beef of my yore was spicier (whole red chilies running throughout the dish) and included deep fat fried Saifun (mung bean) noodles. Then all the ingredients were mixed together and fried in even more oil. It was wonderful. But I can’t handle that much spice, fat, or salt anymore. So I needed a recipe for a milder, tamer, more polite, and definitely healthier version of this dish. So to the internet I proceeded. None of the recipes I found were just exactly what I thought I was looking for. So I added, subtracted, reduced, increased, and generally had my way with several recipes, and this combination of ingredients is the result.

And if I do say so myself, which of course I do, this doesn’t taste even close to the Mongolian Beef I used to get in the International District in the 70s! And this, if I’m honest with myself, is a good thing. Because of how I eat today, (less fat, salt, and my bodies rejection of really spicy food), I honestly don’t think I would enjoy “the real thing” any longer. So in remembrance of days gone by, I plan to lift a martini glass (complete with contents) tonight to the good old days when I could eat anything I wanted, was totally unaware of things like sodium content and saturated fat, and not eating spicy food meant you were a sissy!

So for all my readers who like me, are Mongolian Beef lovers, I offer my healthier version of this classic Asian dish. I think it’s pretty OK, and I hope you do too.

  • 1 lb. lean beef steak (round, London broil, sirloin, etc.) cut into very thin strips
  • ¼ c. cornstarch
  • ½ c. tamari (low sodium & GF)
  • ½ c. water
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 2/3 c. brown sugar
  • ¼-½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 T. vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 T. minced ginger
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bunch green onions, sliced on the diagonal

Mix the steak strips and cornstarch together and set aside. Whisk together the soy sauce, water, sesame oil, brown sugar, and red pepper flakes. Set aside.

In a large fry pan, heat 4 teaspoons of the oil to medium high. Add the meat and fry just until each side is lightly browned. (The middle should still be slightly pink.) Remove from pan and set aside. Add the additional 2 teaspoons of oil to the pan along with the ginger and garlic. Fry for one minute then add the reserved soy sauce mixture. Let burble for 2-3 minutes or until the sauce starts to thicken. Add the reserved meat and the green onions. Cook about 30 seconds. Remove from heat, adjust seasoning, and serve immediately. Great served over brown rice.

Please let me know if you like this recipe. Thanks