Mongolian BBQ is a joyful celebration of grill-worthy meats and vegetables, served with noodles and the mouthwatering sweet and savoury sauce. Whether you’re having Mongolian Grill at a restaurant or making one at home, here is everything you need to know about mastering the Mongolian barbeque experience.
What is Mongolian BBQ?
Mongolian barbecue is a stir-fried meal great for parties. It’s called Meng Gu Kao Rou (蒙古烤肉) in Chinese. Each person can choose different types of meats and vegetables, which are then cooked on large solid iron griddles at a very high temperature. Despite its name, the dish is not Mongolian, and not exactly barbecue. It’s a combination of Chinese stir-frying and Japanese Teppanyaki.
The dish starts with noodles, and then you can customize with your favorite meats, seafood, and vegetables. There are also different sauces that you can choose to cook the food!
Where does it come from?
Mongolian barbecue was created by Wu Zhaonan, a comedian and restaurateur from Taiwan China in 1951. It was quite popular and later introduced to the West. At restaurant, Mongolian BBQ or Mongolian Grill is usually presented with a buffet style, where you can build your own custom bowl.
Where are some great places to go for Mongolian Barbecue?
True Mongolian BBQ experience
At a Mongolian Grill restaurant with the all-you-can-eat buffet style, you’ll need to fill your plate with a selection of raw meat, seafood, vegetables and noodles first, together with your choice of sauce. Then you hand your plate to the chef who’ll transfer them to a large circular grill and cook everything right in front of you.
The ingredients are stir-fried very quickly over the high heat as they are thinly sliced. Once done, the finished dish is scooped into a bowl and handed to you. This is the place that’s great for parties and team building.
What you’ll need to make Mongolian barbecue at home?
Like Chinese hot pot and Korean BBQ, Mongolian BBQ is truly a joyful activity to enjoy a meal together. It’s simple, fun, flavorful, and you can make it easily at home! My kids love it so much as they can choose their own ingredients and cook with the adults at the table!
1. The main event: Meat
High-quality meat is key to this recipe. Beef and lamb are the most popular meats to use, other options include pork, chicken, or seafood. Thinly-sliced meats work best for this recipe as they can be cooked in less than a minute. You can buy pre-sliced meats at a local Chinese grocery store. Alternatively, you can slice them into 1/8-inch thick pieces at home. Choose well marbled meats as they’re more tender and flavorful. My favorite meat is rib eye steak.
Pro Tip: It’s much easier to cut the beef into thin slices when it’s half-frozen. You can freeze the meat for about 1 hour before slicing. Or you can let the fully frozen meat sit at the room temperature for 45 minutes before slicing. Cut the beef across the grain for the most tender meat.
The beauty of Mongolian grill is the perfect combination of meat and vegetables. In order to stir-fry the vegetables quickly, you’ll need to cut them into thin slices. Below are some popular vegetables that work well for this recipe, you can choose whatever you like. Some vegetables will require longer cooking time than others:
- Cabbage: it’s one of the most common ingredients in Mongolian barbeque. You need to cut them into long and thin strips.
- Bean Sprouts: give them a quick rinse and they’re ready to go!
- Onions: you can use yellow, white or purple onions, and cut them into thin slices.
- Carrots: it adds a bright color and some sweet flavor to the dish. Make sure to cut them into very thin strips.
- Zucchini: slice it into thin half rounds.
Other common vegetables you can use include spinach, mushrooms, bell peppers, sweet potatoes, bok choy, green beans, broccoli, yu choy (Chinese greens), and so on.
3. Mongolian BBQ Sauce
Mongolian barbecue sauce is the secret to the delicious Mongolian grill – it has the perfect balance between savory and sweet flavor. It can be used during the cooking and for dipping once the food is cooked. You can buy some ready-made sauce such as Mongolian Stir Fry Sauce from an Asian grocery store, but I highly recommend making your own.
Homemade Mongolian BBQ sauce takes a few simple ingredients to put together, and it’s so addictive!
Ingredients you’ll need:
- Soy Sauce
- Sesame Oil
- White Sesame Seeds
That’s it! Pretty easy, right?
Alternatively, you can also use your favorite sauce such as Teriyaki, Thai peanut, Dragon sauce, Szechuan sauce, or barbeque sauce.
Pro Tip: It’s best to make the sauce a day in advance as the flavor develops if you let it sit for some time in the refrigerator.
4. Best noodles for Mongolian stir fry
You can use any Chinese noodles that you can find at your local Asian supermarket. Dried noodles from Amazon works great too. However, regular spaghetti noodles also work just fine!
Cook the noodles according to the instructions from the package until al dente. Then drain them immediately and rinse with cold water. Mix with oil to prevent them from sticking to each other.
5. The griddle (hot plate)
You’ll need a portable electric griddle like this to enjoy grilling Mongolian BBQ at the table. (If you don’t have one, you can still make this recipe by stir-frying on the stove and then bring to the table). Use kitchen tongs or chopsticks to cook your food.
I highly recommend getting a griddle for the true Mongolian grill experience (as it’s quite inexpensive), and you’ll remember having so much fun grilling the delicious Mongolian barbecue with your family and friends!
How to cook Mongolian Barbeque
- Brush the griddle with oil and let it heat up before adding your meat. This will create a nice browning without overcooking your meat. It usually takes about 30 seconds per side (1 minute total) to cook your meat if it’s thinly sliced.
- Cook different vegetables at different sections on the griddle until tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Add the cooked noodles to the griddle just to warm it up.
- Transfer the cooked food to your bowl. You can dip them into the Mongolian BBQ sauce directly.
- Alternatively, you can mix all your food on the griddle briefly, and drizzle the sauce on top. Once combined, transfer them to your bowl.
- Top with optional green onions or chopped peanuts, and you’ll have a delicious Mongolian BBQ bowl!
Pair it with your favorite beer for an authentic Mongolian BBQ experience!
How to Make Mongolian BBQ at Home
- 1 ½ pounds rib eye steak boneless (sliced to 1/8-inch thickness. We estimate 6 oz per person. You can also use lamb, chicken, pork, or seafood of your choice. For vegetarian, use tofu as a substitute.)
- 6 oz cabbage (about 1/6 of a larage cabbage)
- 5 oz bean sprouts
- 1 onion (thinly sliced)
- 1 large carrot (sliced to thin strips)
- 1 zucchini (sliced to thin half rounds)
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (plus extra for adding to the noodles to prevent sticking)
- 8 oz Asian noodles (or spaghetti)
- salt and pepper (to taste)
- other optional vegetables include mushrooms, broccoli, bok choy, bell peppers, etc.
Mongolian BBQ Sauce (200ml, serves 4)
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger (it’s best to use fresh ginger)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons white sesame seeds
To Make Mongolian Barbecue Sauce
- Gather all the ingredients. Note that this sauce recipe can serve 4 people, and you’ll need to adjust accordingly if you are serving a larger crowd.
- In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine soy sauce, sugar, and water. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.
- Add grated ginger, garlic, sesame seeds, and sesame oil. Mix well.
- Turn off the heat, and your sauce is ready. Pour it into a mason jar. (You can also make it a day ahead and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.)
To Prepare Mongolian BBQ
- Cook the noodles according to package instructions until al dente. Then drain the noodles and rinse with cold water. Add some oil and mix well to prevent sticking.
- In the mean time, gather all the other ingredients.
- Slice the meat meat into 1/8-inch thick pieces and keep them refrigerated until you’re ready to cook. (Tip: You can freeze the meat for about 1 hour before cutting for easy slicing.)
- Prepare the vegetables: Remove the hard core of the cabbage, and cut the leaves into thin strips; Wash the bean sprouts and dry them properly; Peel the onion and carrot and cut them into thin slices, Slice zuccini into thin half rounds.
To Cook Mongolian Grill BBQ
- Preheat the electric griddle to 400 ºF (204 ºC) and grease the surface with oil.
- Add vegetables and meat to the griddle. It’s best to divide the surface into several sections where you cook different types of food.
- Lightly season your vegetables with salt and pepper, and keep the meat unseasoned.
- The meat usually takes less than a minute to be fully cooked. Cook the vegetables until softened. Bean sprouts also takes less than a minute to cook.
- Each person should have a small bowl of Mongolian BBQ sauce. You can dip the food in the homemade Mongolian sauce directly once it's cooked.
- Alternatively, you can add noodles and the grilled meat and vegetable into a serving bowl. Mix with the homemade Mongolian sauce and enjoy!