No, I’ve never been to P.F. Chang’s although I read that the U.S. food chain opened its first Asian branch in Alabang two months ago. It’s easily a two-hour drive to Alabang and… I just wouldn’t. The copycat recipe for P.F. Chang’s Mongolian beef, I found via Pinterest. I posted it on my cooking, wining & dining board where I file all sexy-looking dishes I stumble upon on Pinterest with the intention of cooking them all at some future time. The source of the photo I repinned on Pinterest was Six Sisters’ Stuff which pointed to Food.com as the original source of the copycat recipe. Doesn’t that sound insane — original and copycat both referring to the same recipe…
But, anyway… In cooking the pork version of the copycat recipe for P.F. Chang’s Mongolian beef, I followed the basic recipe from Food.com but with some additions. Which makes one question relevant at this point: When you visit a website, do you read the comments? I do. Because not reading them is missing half the fun and totally missing bits of useful information.
For instance, in the Food.com Mongolian beef recipe, the meat isn’t seasoned before it is fried. Ergo, it relies solely on the sauce for the seasoning. Which is crazy, really, because layering flavors is a basic technique for flavorful cooking. Layering flavors? Essentially, it means seasoning is added at various stages of the cooking. That shortfall was remedied by a commenter who goes by the name Bento or Bust who said that he / she marinated the meat in a mixture of soy sauce, hoisin sauce and cornstarch for 30 minutes before frying. Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Not only do the flavors of the soy and hoisin sauces permeate the meat, they also give the meat a deeper and richer color.
I had to mention Bento or Bust and his / her comment because the tweak that he / offered is a huge part in the success of my pork version of the dish. Of course, I added a couple of other things. Like sesame seed oil, rice wine and chili…
The are three steps in cooking the pork version of P.F. Chang’s Mongolian beef.
The first step is the preparation of the pork. Proper cutting is crucial to make sure that the pork gets cooked through in a short time.
Seasonings are added to the meat.
And mixed together. Corn starch is added and mixed in. Then, the pork marinates for half an hour.
The second step, making the sauce, happens while the pork is soaking up the flavors in the marinade.
Garlic and ginger are sauteed until fragrant then the liquid ingredients are poured in.
The sauce is allowed to boil until it has the consistency of syrup.
Now, the third and final step.
Fry the pork in plenty of hot oil.
The sauce is reheated and the fried pork pieces are tossed in.
And there is the lovely pork version of P.F. Chang’s Mongolian beef.
Pork version of P.F. Chang's Mongolian beef
- 750 grams skinless pork belly (pork neck will work too)
For the marinade
- 2 cups cooking oil
Slice the pork thinly (1/4 inch thin or thinner) across the grain (see how to slice meat across the grain).
Put the pork in a bowl and add the soy sauce, hoisin sauce and sesame seed oil. Mix well.
Add the cornstarch. Mix well. Cover and allow to marinate in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, start making the sauce.
Over medium-mow heat, heat up the 2 tbsps. of vegetable cooking oil in a pan. Add the ginger and garlic and cook, still over medium-low heat, until fragrant. Should take a couple of minutes. Don’t wait for the ginger and garlic to brown.
Pour in the rice wine and soy sauce. Add the chopped chili and sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
Turn up the heat to medium high and allow the sauce to boil gently until it acquires a syrupy consistency, about ten minutes. Taste the sauce. If you want it more salty or sweet, stir in some salt (more soy sauce will make the sauce too dark) or more sugar, as needed. Set aside.
Heat the 1 and 1/2 c. of cooking oil in a wok or frying pan. I don’t use a thermometer but the ideal temperature for frying is between 350F to 375F. You can test the temperature by dropping a piece of bread into the oil. If the bread sinks, the oil isn’t hot enough. If it browns in less than five seconds, it’s too hot.
Over medium high heat, fry the pork in batches. Do not overcrowd the pan. Cook ten to 12 pieces at a time to maintain the temperature of the oil. If the pork slices are thin enough, each batch should cook in four to five minutes.
Drain the fried pork on a stack of paper towels as each batch cooks.
When all the pork is done, gently reheat the sauce. This is a caramelized sauce and, as with anything caramelized, it would have thickened considerably as it cooled. You want to make it thin enough to coat the pork pieces with. So, reheat gently. Once it has thinned to a syrupy consistency again, add the pork to the sauce, stir and toss alternately until all the pork pieces are coated with the rich sticky sauce.
Sprinkle the pork with finely sliced scallions and serve on top of steaming rice.