Although I suspect that this recipe has little to do with Mongolian cooking – or with authentic Chinese cuisine, for that matter – it nevertheless appeared under this title in the Tsai family’s Chinese restaurant. Ethnic Chinese know full well how different they are in so many ways from Mongolians, who invaded and conquered the Chinese. But I am sure that the exotic name was invented to entice Westerners to order this simple but delicious stir-fried beef dish.
The recipe illustrates the resourcefulness and good business sense of Chinese-American cooks, who are quick to adopt and adapt locally available foods and popular ingredients and use them to make very satisfying meals that beguile non-Chinese palates.
450g (1lb) cabbage finely shredded
1tablespoon plus ½teaspoonsalt
450g (1lb) lean minced beef
3tablespoonsShaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
1tablespoonlight soy sauce
2teaspoonstoasted sesame oil
½teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2½tablespoons coarsely chopped garlic
2teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
2tablespoons finely chopped shallots
2 medium-sized carrots, finely shredded
1 large red or green pepper, seeded and finely shredded
Put the cabbage and 1tablespoon of salt in a large bowl of cold water and let it sit for 1 hour. Then rinse and drain thoroughly.
Toss the minced beef in a bowl with 1tablespoon of rice wine, the soy sauce, sesame oil, pepper, 1tablespoon of garlic, the ginger and cornflour, mixing well, then let it marinate for about 20 minutes.
Heat a wok or large frying pan over a high heat until it is hot. Swirl in the groundnut oil and, when it is very hot and slightly smoking, dump in 1½tablespoons of garlic and the shallots and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Then toss in the marinated beef and continue to stir-fry for 2 minutes, breaking up the meat. Now throw in the rest of the vegetables and continue to stir-fry until they have wilted, about 5 minutes. Pour in the hoisin sauce and oyster sauce, sprinkle on ½teaspoon of salt and the pepper and continue to stir-fry over a high heat for 3 minutes more. Then pour in 2tablespoons of rice wine to finish glazing the dish. Serve at once.