If you are a fan of American Chinese cuisine, Mongolian beef must be one of your favorites.
To make Mongolian beef, flank steak is a traditional option of beef cut.
But what if you cannot find this cut from your local butcher or grocery store, what can you use instead?
This post will teach you how to make other Mongolian beef variations from flank steak substitutes.
What is Mongolian beef?
Despite the name, Mongolian beef has nothing relevant to Mongolian cuisine.
It originated in Taiwan, and now can mostly be found in Chinese or American Chinese cuisine.
This dish got its name because it was first created during the time that Mongolian barbecue restaurants approached Chinese cuisine.
The main ingredients are beef slices (usually make use of the flank steak cut) and vegetables (normally broccoli.).
Beef is stir-fried and then tossed in a sauce that consists of soy sauce, brown sugar, sweet chili sauce, pepper, cornstarch, water, rice wine, sesame oil, ginger, and sriracha.
The resulting dish is savory, sweet, slightly spicy, and is often garnished with scallions or sesame seeds, then served over rice or fried noodles depending on personal preference.
Can you substitute flank steak in the Mongolian beef recipe?
There are actually many options to go with if you have to, or want to substitute flank steak in the Mongolian beef recipe.
Flank steak is a tough cut with a strong beefy flavor, but when thinly sliced, it doesn’t need to be slow-cooked over low heat to be tender.
Although it is a priority and traditional choice for Mongolian beef, if you don’t have any flank steak cut, or want to go vegan, it is possible to substitute this beef cut with other ingredients without giving up on the delicious taste.
What can you substitute for flank steak in the Mongolian recipe?
As already mentioned, Mongolian beef can be made from other cuts that substitute for the classic flank steak cut.
The following alternatives can help you make delicious variations of Mongolian beef with no need for flank steak:
1. Skirt steak
Skirt steak is the first substitute for flank steak that we would highly recommend if you want the closest version to the original Mongolian beef.
Skirt steak is cut from the plate cut, next to the flank cut.
It has a similar texture and flavor to flank steak, making it ideal in any recipe that calls for flank steak, like Mongolian beef.
This cut is also another more economical option compared to flank steak.
It has a stronger beefy flavor and is often leaner.
Therefore, you should keep your eyes while cooking the dish to prevent it from drying out.
2. Flat iron steak
Flat iron steak is great for stir-frying recipes, therefore, it is also another option that you should consider to substitute for your flank steak in Mongolian beef.
Flat iron steak is cut from the chuck and it is also prized for its flavorful taste.
Flat iron steak is also more affordable than the flank steak cut.
3. Chicken breast
If you want to change the taste of your classic Mongolian beef, it’s time to use chicken instead.
This poultry option has a milder taste but is much healthier.
White meat chicken is lower in saturated fat while still maintaining a rich source of protein and many other essential nutrients for your body.
Chicken breast is also more tender and takes less time to cook.
It is the leanest cut of the chicken, so you also better watch out for your “Mongolian chicken” to not end up with a dry and chewy dish.
For vegetarians or people who want to cut down their animal protein intake, this flank steak substitute will be perfect.
Mushrooms have a meaty texture and a stronger flavor than other kinds of vegetables.
They also have a dark color that can resemble beef in the Mongolian beef recipe.
Mushrooms are rich in protein, minerals, and vitamins, so they are not only delicious but also very healthy.
5. Vegetable “steak”
When we mean vegetable steaks, we would like to refer to some kinds of vegetables like cauliflower or butternut squash that have a steak-like look and texture.
You will want to brown these cuts of vegetables in the skillet to have a beautiful color before stir-frying them with other ingredients and the Mongolian sauce.
You can even substitute flank steak with tofu for a twist on the traditional Mongolian beef recipe.
This vegan option is generally healthy and delicious, but it is not for people with soy allergies.
Tofu should be fried to have a golden crispy crust before stir-frying so that it will have a firmer texture and your dish won’t end up messy looking.
The bottom line
With these various options for flank steak substitutes, they can work for different taste buds’ preferences.
The next time you make Mongolian beef, don’t panic if there is no flank steak cut left because you have many alternatives from meat to tofu and vegetables to stick with.
Good luck with your choice!
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