I grew up on American Chinese food. You know, the take-out chop suey and family buffets that serve up fried rice, crab rangoon, sesame chicken... all manner of brown fried foods. Not at all authentic Chinese food, and I think most people know that, but we still love it. I actually worked in one of these places for a couple of summers, and even though it was eye-opening (the owners were from Vietnam, and didn't eat anything on the menu...my first exposure to true Asian cuisine were the lunches they made us), I still need a pork fried rice fix monthly.
I found myself craving another take-out favorite of my youth - Mongolian beef. Flavorful strips of beef in a brown sauce with lots of onions. An MSG bomb of the best kind. I had to ball-ize it! My version cooks the onions until they are almost caramelized, because that's what I was in the mood for. If you want it less sweet, cook the onions less.
Mongolian Beef Balls
-1 lb. 80% lean ground beef
-6 cloves garlic,divided
-2-inch piece of ginger, divided
-2 bunches green onions, divided
-1 shallot, finely chopped
-1/2 cup + 1 Tablespoon Hoisin sauce
-1/4 teaspoon Chinese 5 Spice
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1/2 teaspoon black pepper
-1 Tablespoon oil
-2 medium yellow onions, quartered and sliced
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-1-inch piece of ginger, minced
-1/4 cup soy sauce
-2 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
Grate or finely mince 3 garlic cloves and 1-inch of the ginger and finely chop the green part of one of the bunches of green onions. Mix these with the shallot, ground beef, 1 Tablespoon of hoisin, the Chinese 5 Spice, salt and pepper. Use hands to mix well and form into 1-Tablespoon-size balls.
Add 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil to a large skillet or wok over high heat. Add the meatballs and cook until browned and cooked through. Remove from skillet to a paper towel-lined plate. Finely chop the rest of the garlic and ginger. Chop the green onions into 1-inch pieces, separating the white parts from the green parts. Mix the rest of the hoisin, soy and rice wine vinegar together.
Remove all but 2 or 3 Tablespoons of the oil/grease from the skillet or wok. Add the onions, green onion whites, garlic and ginger and cook until soft and starting to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the sauce, green onion green parts and meatballs and toss to combine, Cook to heat everything through. Serve over rice.
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