Why is Mongolian beef so tender?

Last Updated on June 30th, 2023

We may earn commissions for purchases made through links on our site. Learn more on our about us page.

There are certain recipes and techniques that will create the melting-in-your-mouth meat texture that comes with the most tender of meats. 

Mongolian beef recipes were created to allow for this type of dining experience, which begins with cutting the grain again to promote the separation of the meat and make the beef more tender.  

As it tenderizes, it sucks in the flavor of the seasonings and marinades, which will require about four hours to an entire overnight gestation period before you should begin cooking. This will then give the stir-fried dish the easily eaten strips of beef desired by chefs. 

What Makes it Tender?

Certain techniques and chef’s tricks allow the meat to become tenderized. In this instance, the chef will add cornstarch to help encourage microlevels of bond breakage, along with cutting the strips against the grain to make the beef more tender. 

These two techniques combined are part of the common recipes for Mongolian beef. From there, other tenderizing steps can be taken, including taking a tenderizer hammer to the strips or allowing the meat to marinate for longer periods of time. 

Another kind of tenderizing technique will be to use acidic-based marinades and sauces, which naturally work on muscle fibers and thus loosen up the beef. 


When did Mongolian Beef first Gain Popularity?

This dish originated from the island of Taiwan when Mongolian barbeque became popular. In the 1950s, entrepreneur Wu Zhaonan of Taiwan set out to create the first Mongolian BBQ restaurant. 

From there, it traveled over the Pacific and became the “Mongolian Beef” dish ordered at most Asian-themed restaurants. 

These foods are not, however, even Mongolian in culture, and the truth is that Mongolia foods, true to the geography and peoples of that region, are more likely to be based on Yak milk or be made into the famed Borts jerky, which is made of beef, goat, or camel. 


Where Can You Find the Best Mongolian Beef?

Here is going to open up a can of worms. This Pandora’s box will have about as many opinions about the best types of Mongolian beef and where to find it. 

For this article’s purposes, we will defer to online reviews of chefs and certain renowned food critics, to which they will answer that the best Mongolian beef dishes can be found. 

Below is a list of 3 cities and the restaurant with the best Mongolian beef dishes:


  • Denver, CO – Hong Kong Café (10890 E Dartmouth Ave)
  • Los Angeles, CA – Moon House Chinese Cuisine (11058 Santa Monica Blvd)
  • New York, NY – Joe’s Shanghai (46 Bowery St)


What are Some Regional Variations?

This is going to be geographically dependent, which means that certain areas of the planet will have the right climate and environment for only certain types of animal life and livestock. 

So, for instance, you will not find camel livestock in America, yet Mongolia will make jerky from our humped four-legged friends. 

Similar to having caribou in the northern regions of planet Earth, there are not going to be caribou in South American regions, as African wildebeest are not found where Bison roam in North America. 

That being said, chefs will use local meat sources and will use what is available to them.  


How can You Make Tender Mongolian Beef at Home?

This will be rather easier than you would think, but yes, this is possible. To start, you will need to get a nice piece of flank steak or a similar meat type. 

From there, you will need to prepare the steak with certain cutting techniques, such as cutting against the grain, and consider using acidic sauces and marinades to help tenderize the steak even further. 

Next, work with cornstarch and salts to create a solution that breaks down meat bonds and fibers and allows for flavors to be absorbed. 

Another technique involves the use of a tenderizing hammer, which will pound the steaks to soften the meat and, in effect, tenderize the cut. 


Final Thoughts on Why is Mongolian Beef so Tender

When it comes to creating a solid stir-fry dish, it starts with the cut of meat you are using. Flank steaks are a solid choice but consider spending some extra to get an even better cut of meat to use. 

The difference may not be noticeable when sitting down at a restaurant, credit due to the top-class chefs of the establishment, but when you’re preparing the dish at home. In short, try it, and you will see how the quality of the meat cut affects the dish. 


Leave a comment

Leave a Reply