Beef with Cumin and Scallion, or 孜然蔥炒牛肉 , is a Mongolian style dish in which Beef is flash-fried with Scallion, Cumin, Garlic and Red Chili.
This fairly simple dish is a type that might well get called ‘Mongolian Beef’ on many Chinese, or other Asian restaurant menus. Mongolia is far better known for Lamb than Beef, but the combination of flavors are often given the name ‘Mongolian’ in non-Mongolian establishments and cookery books. Here, Beef is pre-fried, then flash-fried with Scallion, Cumin, Garlic, Red Chili, and other aromatics.
Ingredient Notes for Beef with Cumin and Scallion
The Recipe Card below calls for Black Cardamom as one of the spice ingredients. This is not particularly Mongolian, actually, but the spice is used in Sichuanese dishes, and dishes from the far western provinces of China. It adds a nice smoky flavor that works well here, but it also has faint Camphor notes that some people don’t enjoy.
The recipe calls for the ground seeds from one pod, but you can substitute 1 half teaspoon of powdered Black Cumin. If you can’t find this, or don’t want to use it, leaving it out will not spoil the dish.
How to make 孜然蔥炒牛肉
First, slice the beef into strips approximately 2 x 5 cm in surface area and no more than a half-centimeter thick. Mix the strips in a bowl with the Black Cardamom and then stir in the baking soda, the cornstarch, one tablespoon of the sugar, and a half-tablespoon of the sesame oil.
Next, cut the scallions into 4 – 5 cm lengths and keep the white and green sections separate. Mix the Rice wine, soy sauce and the remaining sugar and sesame oil in a little container and set aside.
Finally, crush the Black pepper with a pestle, making sure that you stop before it gets completely pulverized and that there are still some fairly coarse grains visible.
Heat the cooking oil to just below the smoking point in your wok and quickly fry the beef strips, stirring well to separate them. When they are just getting nicely crisp and brown on the outside, but still soft and juicy in the middle, remove to a bowl and drain the wok, reserving a tablespoon or so of oil in the bottom.
Heat the wok once again and, just as the oil begins to shimmer, throw in the cumin and the chili. As soon as the chili starts to darken, add the white part of the scallion and stir-fry vigorously. When the scallion is soft, add the garlic and the black pepper, stirring again until the garlic just starts to turn golden.
Now add the sauce ingredients and after it has bubbled away for a few seconds add the green sections of scallion and the beef. Keep tossing until everything is heated through and the sauce forms a nice glaze and then add the sesame seeds. Toss a few more times and then plate for service. Scatter a few more sesame seeds on top if you like.
This dish needs to be served immediately. You can serve with rice, or noodles, or, as seen above, with flatbread and a little Chili Paste for extra heat.
Your Recipe Card for 孜然蔥炒牛肉:
Beef with Cumin and Scallion
- 10 oz Beef Steak
- 1 bunch of Scallions
- 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
- 1 tbsp. Cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp. Black Cardamom Powder
- 2 tbsp. Sugar
- 4 large cloves of Garlic chopped finely.
- 1 – 2 tsp. Crushed Red Chili
- 1 – 1 ½ tbsp. Cumin Seed
- 1 tbsp. Black Peppercorns
- 1 tbsp. Rice wine
- 1 1/2 tbsp. Sesame Oil
- 1 tbsp. Soy sauce
- 2 tbsp. Sesame Seeds
- ¾ cup of oil for frying
- Slice the beef into strips approximately 2 x 5 cm in surface area and no more than a half-centimeter thick.
- Mix the strips in a bowl with the Black Cardamom and then stir in the baking soda, the cornstarch, one tablespoon of the sugar, and a half-tablespoon of the sesame oil.
- Cut the scallions into 4 – 5 cm lengths and keep the white and green sections separate.
- Mix the Rice wine, soy sauce and the remaining sugar and sesame oil in a little container and set aside.
- Crush the Black pepper with a pestle leaving some fairly coarse grains visible.
- Heat the Cooking Oil until almost smoking and deep-fry the Beef until just browned on the outside. Remove to a bowl and drain all but two Tablespoons of oil from the pan.
- Fry the Cumin and the Chili over high heat until the chili starts to darken, then add the white part of the Scallion and stir-fry vigorously. When the Scallion is soft, add the Garlic and the Black Pepper.
- Stir-fry until the Garlic is soft, then add the sauce ingredients, the green sections of Scallion and the Beef.
- Stir until the sauce forms a nice glaze then serve immediately.