Our family loves Mongolian BBQ. If you have never been to one of these restaurants, it goes something like this: everyone gets a big empty bowl, that they fill with their choice of very thinly sliced raw meats (typically, steak, chicken, pork, and shrimp)...
a wide array of veggies (like a salad bar),
and then sauces, spices, and seasonings to your taste.
Top it all off with some Asian-style noodles, and take the bowl over to the cook, who will quickly stir-fry it for you in no time on a massive, extremely hot cooking stone.
Once done cooking, your food is scooped into a fresh bowl, and you can enjoy it over some steamed rice, with peanuts or some pineapple sprinkled across the top. The possibilities are endless. It's no wonder these places are super fun, and very popular with both adults and children.
Well, all week long, I have been craving Mongolian BBQ. There are a few in our area, but our family has mostly stopped eating out. We eat so "clean" at home, that going out is typically a major step down, and often leaves us feeling crummy. Not to mention with 9 people, it costs a fortune. The last time we went to our favorite Mongolian grill about 4 or 5 years ago, I would up getting sick afterwards - not something I wanted to risk again, even if I weren't pregnant.
Yesterday evening, there was a small, private wedding at our church. After it was over, our family was in a bit of celebratory mood, and tossed around the idea of going out to a nice steak house. Over the phone, we were told the wait time for a family our size was going to be almost 3 hours - ha!
Instead, we decided to head to Whole Foods just down the street, and pick up a few things we would need to make our own Mongolian BBQ at home. I was just hoping it wouldn't turn out awful, but it actually came out better than any Asian food I had ever had. The husband and kids also agreed that it was awesome, so we will definitely be doing this again.
Here is what I did:
1. Steam some rice: When the stir-fry is done, you will want to serve it over some freshly steamed rice. To steam rice, place one part rice and two parts water in a pot, cover with a lid, and bring to a boil. As soon as the water is boiling, turn the heat down until it just maintains a simmer. No need to stir or otherwise mess with the rice at this point. When all visible water is gone, turn stove off, but leave pot on the hot burner to continue steaming for another 10 minutes. Remove from stove, and fluff rice with a large wooden spoon.
2. Prepare the raw veggies: The more variety you offer, the less you will need to chop of each kind. Put each in their own individual dish.
You could also use:
3. Prepare the toppings to be put on the finished stir-fry:
You could also use:
4. Cook some Asian style noodles: These will only take about 4 minutes. You can further speed things up by getting the water to boil while chopping the last of the veggies.
Our Costco carries these stir-fry noodles, but I didn't have any on hand last night, so we used the Hakubaku brand udon noodles instead. They were equally delicious!
5. Set our your seasonings and spices: The possibilities for these are endless. Below is what we had (the stuff in the glass is pineapple juice). We did not use extra salt, as the sauces tend to be salty, but for those who only use small amounts of sauce, they will want to add salt to taste after the food is cooked.
The only downside to this meal is that aside from the soy sauce, we found it impossible to buy organic Asian sauces. While the ones we chose were all free of preservatives, I really wish there were a line of all-organic sauces like this on the market. If you know of one, please share it in the comments below.
On my bowl, I used some of each of the above sauces, and was thrilled with the taste of the finished product.
6. Slice your meat(s): We used chicken and steak. They were out of the freezer, but had sat out while I was preparing the veggies just to get them thawing on the outside ever so slightly. I used my electric kitchen slicer to get them super thin, which was a snap. If you do not have a slicer, you can slice meat very thinly with a sharp knife, if the meat is still mostly frozen.
7. Get your pan heating: This seemed like the most daunting part. But looking back - it really shouldn't have been. Any large skillet (cast iron is best, stainless steel will work, too) or wok will do. I used my Lodge double-sided stove top griddle. It proved to be perfect because as I cooked up batch after batch, I would dump some water onto the griddle in between, and scrape the remains of the previous person's meal into the groove on the left, making for a fresh cooking surface each time.
The most important part is that the pan is VERY hot. For me, I turned both burners under the griddle to the highest setting.
8. Have everyone assemble their bowls: This was doubtless the funnest part for the kids. I had the boys help the girls, to make sure raw meat was not contaminating the veggies.
My bowl, before being cooked
9. Cook it up! I stir-fried everyone's food individually, starting with my husband, and then going from youngest to oldest. It really is very easy: I added a generous amount of butter to the very hot griddle, followed immediately by the contents of the entire bowl.
The food cooks up very fast, in a matter of just a couple of minutes max. The thing to check for is that the meat is cooked through, which is a snap if it was sliced thinly. If the food starts sticking, you can dump some water onto the pan, and slide it to a cooler part.
Grab a fresh bowl, throw in some of rice, and then top it with the steaming hot stir-fried food. Add nuts and fruit to your taste, and ENJOY!
Important: Once the food is done cooking, you need to put it into a fresh bowl, not the one it was assembled in (which contained raw meat).
When my bowl first was done, I was thinking - "This looks great, but I think I was a little too ambitious on the portion size!" However, it turned out to be so fantastic, I found it impossible to put the fork down, even long after I felt stuffed. Then I dreamed about it all night long, and had the leftovers (reheated in the oven) for breakfast today. And you have one guess what I am making for lunch today... :)
Yes, it was that good! Best of all, none of us got sick, or even felt icky. It cost about half of what we would have paid out, in spite of everything being organic (except for some of the sauces). And I didn't even have a mess to clean up! My wonderful husband, who ate first and was done by the time I was ready to eat, sent me outside to enjoy my meal in peace and quiet in the beautiful evening air, while he got the kids ready and in bed, and then cleaned the whole kitchen.
Try it - you will LOVE it!