Friday, November 15, 2013

How to make Mongolian BBQ at home

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.

 We had: 
bell pepper
green onions
shredded ginger
minced garlic

You could also use:
snow peas
green beans
water chestnuts
alfalfa sprouts
bok choy
baby spinach
fresh herbs

3. Prepare the toppings to be put on the finished stir-fry:

 We had: 

You could also use:
sunflower seeds
mandarin oranges

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! 


  1. Braggs Liquid Amino - tastes WONDERFUL and can be used in place of Soy Sauce.

  2. Sounds really good. I'm going to try sometime in the next few weeks.

  3. Believe it or not, I'd never heard of this till you posted - but now I've printed out your directions, and it's going on the menu next week! Thanks!! :)

  4. Sounds like a great meal for a big group of people.

  5. I haven't checked your blog for a bit and I'm so happy that you report that your family is doing well! Much congratulation is in order for your new little one! How very exciting! I'm sure the children are so very pleased to welcome another into their midst. I recently read a book that I recommend to you (for reading in all your copious spare time--haha!) called "Weapons of Mass Instruction" by Taylor Gatto. Mr. Gatto taught for many years in the American public education system and it sounds as though he's taken a page straight from your book about the matter. I enjoyed it a great deal and I think you would as well. (Mr. Gatto also wrote 'Dumbing Us Down' about a similar matter and I recommend it also.) God Bless you, Pastor Anderson, and the EIGHT! --Mindy

  6. Now I am soooooooooooooo hungry! That looks amaaaazing! I want it right now! Now I'LL be dreaming about it ALL night :(

  7. Saved from die off! Great idea. Have you watched the documentary 'American Meat' with Joel Salatin (like Food Inc.)? Free for watching at Mercola website this week. Thought you might be interested.

  8. Great Idea. I enjoyed reading your blog. We do fondue night which is a lot of fun too, especially for families!

  9. I love my Mongolian BBQ with Bean Sprouts!

  10. I googled Mongolian BBQ this morning and found you. We're creating our own BBQ and loved yours. Ours can be found in our cookbook at

  11. Stumbled upon your blog. Love this Mongo BBQ at home recipe!

  12. We use an old lefse griddle. It gets very hot on the highest setting (550 degrees) and I ended up having to turn it down a little. I used a bamboo spatula and it worked beautifully. Don't use a lefse griddle you intend to bake lefse on, though. It will ruin it for that. The old one I have used to be my mom's and she used it for everything except lefse.

  13. Best flavor I ever tasted was while I was in the military and every Wed was Mongolian BBQ at the NCO club in Guam. I am stone searching now to find a stone or if cast iron is the best for Mongolian BBQ. I am thinking a grill stone will make it best. What are your thoughts as to a stone or cast iron on the grill?

    1. We were also stationed in Guam in 1972-1973 and had Mongolian BBQ at NCO club... loved it! It was cooked on a warped iron sheet and sometimes mine was very salty because other's sauces ran into mine, LOL!! Wonderful memories.

  14. Awesome recipe! Hubby loves Mongolian Grill, but as you said, it adds up fast. I'm going to get ingredients today and fix this wknd! I too wish there were more organic sauce options.

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful recipe!

  15. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I noticed that the meats you used were not the pre-sliced ones?? If so, you might want to know that if you go to a good (large) Asian market, they actually have the thin slices of meats esp. for dishes like this. It will save you time, and they will be just as thin as the ones they serve at a Mongolian place.

  16. Just a suggestion, make your sauces from scratch. Far less sodium and sugar that way and much healthier. I did a search online for basic recipes and found at least the ingredients online. I plan to experiment with them to create something for the kids to enjoy and more spicy for the adults. We have a butcher in our town so i'm going to see if I ask for a pound of this or that, if he'll slice them super thin for me so I don't have to. Your suggestions made me want to make this our nightly meals because you can make it so many different ways it never gets boring and with sauces made from scratch it is so healthy!

  17. What kind of cooktop is your stove? Does this work on a glass flatop, or do you have a gas? Thanks!

    1. I would think it was gas - you need as much direct heat as possible for a good Mongolian BBQ. I don't think a glass top will deliver that.

  18. I just purchased a full size restaurant Mongolian BBQ and had it installed in my backyard. I purchased a meat slicer and all the cooking tooling needed. Does anyone know of a book or dvd to give the full instructions on in its use and food to purchase? Now I am looking for the sesame pocket bread and can’t find it. Thanks.

    1. That's pretty cool! I would think you can find any unusual ingredients at a good Asian market. As for the BBQ itself, maybe it comes with an instruction manual found online? It seems like it's just a giant hot plate which you turn on and then cook on directly. Have fun!


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