There's something quite addictive about Spicy Instant Pot Mongolian Beef. The best part is that the Instant Pot does the hard work so you don't have to and produces wonderfully tender beef in a thick and flavourful sauce in less than 10 minutes.
If you've not tried Mongolian Beef you really should. You're bound to enjoy the thin slices of super tender flank steak coated in a rich and delicious sauce full of umami tastes, sweetness, zingy hints of fresh ginger and the warmth of chilli.
I can guarantee that Spicy Instant Pot Mongolian Beef is not a dish you will make once. It's so easy, quick and utterly delicious in equal measures that it's bound to have you coming back for more and is sure to make you think twice about ordering your next Chinese takeaway.
Key ingredients and possible alternatives
- Flank or bavette steak - tenderises quickly and is relatively cheap. You can use a more expensive cut like filet or sirloin. Avoid tough cuts normally used for stewing.
- Cornflour/cornstarch - tossing the steak in cornflour/cornstarch before sautéing it ensures it stays tender throughout the cooking process and also helps to thicken the sauce. You could also use potato starch. Do not use plain/all-purpose flour.
- Oil - choose a neutral oil with a high burn point like groundnut or vegetable oil for sautéing the beef. Stay away from olive oil, it cannot withstand high temperatures.
- Garlic, chilli and ginger - these add additional heat, freshness and umami flavour to the sauce. Make sure you use fresh ginger instead of ground. Chilies add warmth to the sauce. Choose a type and amount of chillies that suits your desired level of spiciness. I like to use Birdseye chillies but these are hotter than the more commonly found long red chilies. You can omit the chillies altogether if you are very sensitive to spice. The amount of chillies in this recipe will result in a medium level of spiciness.
- Brown sugar - brings a rich sweetness to the sauce. You can swap this for white sugar if you need to.
- Soy sauce - adds salty savouriness. Do not use dark soy sauce, it will be overpowering.
- Oyster sauce - brings a rich saltiness and caramelly sweetness, but the sauce will still taste fine without it.
- Rice vinegar - adds acidity that cuts through the sweetness. You can use apple cider vinegar if you don't have rice vinegar - the acid levels are similar.
- White rice - Mongolian Beef is traditionally served with white rice. You could use brown rice if you want a healthier option. The dish could also be served with noodles or bao buns.
- Spring onions or scallions - add a tart crunchy freshness that contrasts with the richness and sweetness of the sauce.
- Sesame seeds - add an umami crunch to the finished dish.
How to make Spicy Instant Pot Mongolian Beef
1. Slice the steak and coat in cornflour
Cut the steak into 5mm or ¼inch slices across the grain and toss in cornflour until all the pieces are evenly coated. Shake off any excess cornflour and set aside.
2. Make the sauce
Mix together the brown sugar, soy sauce, oyster sauce, rice vinegar and water in a jug or bowl and set aside.
3. Sauté the beef
Set the instant pot to 'sauté' and fry the beef until the outside turns brown. You might need to do this in two batches. Push it to one side when done and quickly fry the garlic, chilli and ginger for one minute until fragrant. You can also sauté the meat on the stovetop if you prefer.
4. Pressure cook the beef with the sauce
Turn off 'sauté' mode and add the sauce. Place the lid on the Instant Pot and check the valve is closed. Cook on high pressure for 8 minutes. Manually release the Instant Pot immediately when the time is up. Serve on white rice topped with spring onions/scallions.
Tools and Equipment
- Instant Pot - this recipe provides directions for cooking beef in the sauce at high pressure until tender. Have your Instant Pot ready.
- Medium to large bowl - for tossing the steak pieces with the cornflour/cornstarch.
- Jug or small bowl - for mixing the sauce ingredients
- Sharp knife - for chopping the chillies, ginger and spring onions/scallions.
- Garlic crusher - for crushing the garlic into very small pieces. If you don't own a garlic crusher you can use a knife to finely chop the garlic.
Top tips for perfect Spicy Instant Pot Mongolian Beef
- Coat the beef in cornflour - It makes the beef lovely and tender. I once skipped this step and really noticed the difference and it wasn't good.
- Shake off the excess cornflour - excess cornflour can stick to the pan when you fry it.
- Avoid overcrowding the pan when sautéing the beef - cook in batches if necessary to ensure the steak pieces are browned evenly and quickly.
Cooked Mongolian Beef in its sauce can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days. Just place it in an airtight container and refrigerate once it has cooled. Reheat on the stove or in the microwave and serve with a fresh batch of rice. Store the leftover Mongolian Beef and rice separately. Leftover rice should be eaten in 24 hours.
You certainly can! It's a great dish for batch cooking. Just portion it out, place it in freezer bags or containers and freeze for up to 3 months. Remove it from the freezer 24 hours before you plan to eat it and defrost it slowly in the fridge. Reheat on the stove or in the microwave and serve with freshly cooked white rice. Do not freeze rice.
Each serving of Mongolian Beef provides an array of amazing tastes and texture. Cooking the beef in the Instant Pot makes it wonderfully tender. The sauce is warming, savoury and slightly spicy with fresh hints of ginger and savoury garlic. My tongue will never tire of these flavours. It's a dish I'll make again and again.