I’m not the world’s biggest red meat eater, but I do love me some lamb. Especially a lamb dish that comes together with only 20 minutes of hands on time. My Mongolian Lamb features incredibly tender meat (thanks to a little trick) with a rich and savory sauce. Lots of fresh ginger adds a blast of tingly heat, and shiitake mushrooms provide a nice earthiness. Served with rice, it’s a quick and delicious meal, so let’s go!
The Best Cut
I like to use a boneless leg of lamb for this dish. It’s one of the most common cuts of lamb available in the US and it’s relatively affordable. Moreover, it’s easy to handle and prep for a stir fry. If you’ve purchased a whole boneless leg, it’s probably around 4 pounds, which is a lot more than you need for this recipe. I would suggest cleaning the meat and then freezing the rest for another use. If you know what you’re going to be using the lamb for, go ahead and cube or slice up the rest before freezing. This way you have nice prepped lamb waiting for you in the freezer!
Velveting the Lamb
If you’ve ever wondered how the stir fry meat in Chinese restaurants gets so tender, velveting is the answer. A little corn starch or baking soda mixed with the meat helps to tenderize it. Velveting also helps protect proteins from the high heat when stir frying so the meat doesn’t get overcooked. As with any marinade, I also add some flavor to my velveting mixture, in this case a little soy sauce and sugar to bump up the savoriness.
Next I add the oil, mix again, and let the lamb rest in fridge for about an hour. Most of the time, when I’m adding flavors or seasonings to meat, I will mix it all together first before adding oil. Adding oil helps proteins cook evenly, but I add it last because I want the flavors to penetrate the meat; oil can prevent that from happening by forming a barrier around the meat.
Mongolian sauce is both a little sweet and a little spicy. Sticking to its Taiwanese roots, this recipe doesn’t make a lot though so if you like things extra saucy, increase the amount of sauce by half. It comes together quickly with ingredients you likely already have on hand, with maybe the exception of the ground bean sauce. Ground bean sauce is actually made from fermented yellow soy beans, and it has lots of salty umami. It’s definitely different from miso, but in a pinch, you can substitute it with good results. Making the Mongolian sauce is as easy as whisking together all the ingredients until the sugar is dissolved.
Full disclosure, this recipe takes a lot of liberty with the name and I’m pretty sure no one in Mongolia ever heard of a dish like this…in the US, there are many versions of Mongolian Beef and Lamb, mostly with a heavy Chinese influence. This one is a version we’ve had on our menu for many years. It’s incredibly popular because it has familiar flavors with a little twist.
Time to Stir Fry
Like all stir fries, Mongolian Lamb comes together very quickly. So it’s best to have everything measured and ready by the stovetop. Prep the mushrooms, slice the scallions, and mince the ginger and garlic.
Once everything is prepped, you’re ready to start stir frying! The key to a successful stir fry is to get your pan as hot as you can and keep it that way through the cooking process. You also want to keep a pair of chopsticks, tongs, or a heat proof spatula on you at all times because you’ll be moving the food around almost the whole time to keep your ingredients cooking evenly without burning.
The cooking process takes just a few minutes. The lamb is sliced so thinly that it doesn’t require much time. By the time you pour in the sauce, it’s pretty much cooked through.
Mongolian Lamb is proof that deeply flavorful dishes don’t require tons of time. It’s just the thing for weeknight cooking, and served over perfect rice it’s a complete meal. Take a moment to rate and comment on the recipe below, we love hearing from you! And don’t forget to tag us in your pics @funkyasiankitchen, we love seeing your creations.Print
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ Tablespoon sugar
- 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 Tablespoons neutral oil
- 1 pound boneless leg of lamb
- 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 Tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1 Tablespoon bean sauce
- 3 Tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 1 ½ Tablespoons sambal olek (or any garlic chile sauce)
- 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 1 Tablespoon water
- ¼ teaspoon five spice powder
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
For the Stir Fry:
- 6 ounces shiitake mushrooms
- 1 bunch scallions, rinsed and cut into 2 inch pieces
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 Tablespoons minced ginger
- 1 Tablespoon neutral oil
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
For the Lamb:
- Cut the lamb into 4-5 strips and cut out any thick pieces of fat or gristle.
- Cut the lamb into thin (¼”) pieces against the grain.
- Put the lamb into a bowl and add the baking soda, soy sauce, and sugar. Mix the lamb well.
- Then add 2 Tablespoons of oil and mix again. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Make the sauce:
- Combine the soy sauce, oyster sauce, bean sauce, hoisin sauce, sambal olek, red wine vinegar, sugar, and cornstarch in a cup and whisk together to completely dissolve the cornstarch.
- Set aside.
For the Stir Fry:
- Trim the mushrooms and cut them in half. Set aside.
- Heat a large skillet over medium high heat for a couple of minutes. (You want the pan very hot). Add 1 Tablespoon of oil and swirl to coat. Add the lamb in one layer and let it cook for 1 minute.
- Turn the heat up to high and flip the lamb pieces over. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for a couple of seconds while moving the lamb around with chopsticks or other utensils.
- Next add the shiitake mushrooms and stir fry for an additional minute, moving the ingredients of the pan around to keep it cooking evenly.
- Turn the heat down to medium high and add the sauce, stirring the contents of the pan as it cooks and thickens.
- Add the scallions and cook just until the scallions start to wilt. (Less than a minute). Turn off the heat and drizzle with the sesame oil. Stir to combine and serve immediately.
*It’s important to let the meat sear first on one side before you start moving it around the pan. Very few household ranges can keep pans smoking hot after you add a pound of cold raw meat. Cooking it on medium high heat without disturbing it for a minute gets some browning on the meat.
*Don’t be afraid to cook on high heat-that is what makes a stir fry great. As long as you are moving things around constantly, you’ll be fine. But make sure you lower the heat when adding the sauce. The high sugar context in the sauce will cause it to burn if the heat is too strong.
Keywords: mongolian lamb, stir fry