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love thy long weekend

Recipe: mongolian beef

Labor Day weekend marks the close of the busy summer season. It’s when the visitors return to normal life and leave the mountains to the locals, as if the mountains have closed for the year. But the mountains don’t close, ever. They march through the seasons regardless of you or me. Despite the fact that summer is my least favorite of all the seasons (I love them all, I just love the others more), it is indeed a glorious time when trails are easy to access, wildflowers scatter across the hills, and the fruits of the earth spring forth. We hopped out to Crested Butte for the long holiday weekend so we could take care of house maintenance and get on the trails with the puppy. I also wanted to scope out what the aspens are up to because I’ve noticed yellows appearing earlier than usual in the Front Range – not big swaths, but patches here and there. Even though I won’t be doing a dedicated fall shoot this year (because of Neva), it’s hard to shut off the constant monitoring of the aspen stands right about now.

evidence that a few of the leaves are showing off early

The weather on the Front Range had been mostly hot and dry the last few weeks and our trails had few signs of the mushrooms that graced them only a month prior. But Crested Butte was getting more consistent relief in the form of rain. When we arrived at our place, the lawn had big, healthy, (poisonous) mushrooms sprouting up. That was a good sign. My hope was that the chanterelles would have a second flush, but I wasn’t sure that it would actually happen. We hiked out to some patches over the weekend and lo and behold – chanterelles. Some were dried out and old, others were fresh and just coming out of the ground. I surmised that this wasn’t a second flush, but a continuation of the original flush – stoked on by healthy doses of rain and sun. What an amazing season it has been! I used all of the August chanterelles to shoot recipes, but these will be sautéed in butter and frozen for our enjoyment in winter.

hello, beautifuls

neva waits for jeremy to fill her water dish while i forage chanterelles

not a bad haul for a morning

Of course, the weekend wasn’t just about foraging mushrooms. We got Neva out on the trails for lots of exercise and visited the neighborhood lake to let her get her swim on. As we approached the water, she began to pull on the leash as if her life depended on it. At first I thought there was a dead, rotting carcass near the shore that she smelled. But soon it became clear that this dog wanted to SWIM. So we chucked stick after stick into the water and watched as this once chunky clumsy puppy now gracefully and athletically leapt into the water – a strong and beautiful swimmer.

go neva!


I do plan to head up into the mountains for one last forage before returning home, but I realize that some of you may be tired of the onslaught of huckleberry and chanterelle recipes. Maybe you’re looking for something that will serve as part of a weeknight meal? I haven’t blogged too many Asian recipes this summer, so let’s change things up and go with some Mongolian beef. It’s an easy and straightforward stir fry. The only obstacle might be sourcing some of the ingredients, but I assure you that all of them can be found in an Asian grocery store or a regular grocery store that has a well-stocked Asian food aisle.

flank steak, hoisin sauce, shaoxing wine, vegetable oil, oyster sauce, chili bean sauce, dried red hot chilis, potato starch, scallions, garlic

slice on the diagonal

mince the garlic

slice the flank steak against the grain

Probably the one item with which people will be least familiar is the doubanjiang – a fermented broad bean paste with chili and soy beans. If you can’t find it, I think a black bean chili paste will work, and this I have found in some western grocery stores. For the dried red hot chili peppers, don’t use dried New Mexico reds (the kind they use to make ristras) – these are not those. You want the smaller, much spicier hot chili peppers. Most Asian markets will sell them in small bags or in bulk.

ingredients prepped and measured

add shaoxing wine, oyster sauce, and potato starch to the beef

mix until the beef is evenly coated

mix the hoisin sauce, shaoxing wine, and doubanjiang in a bowl

This comes together in mere minutes with a quick marinade of the beef, mixing the sauce, sautéing the aromatics, and adding the rest of the ingredients. If you have a wok, great. If you don’t (I don’t – well, I do, but I haven’t seasoned it yet) a sauté pan works marvelously. Get the oil flavored with the red chilis and the minced garlic and then stir-fry the beef until the slices are pink. Add the sauce and the scallions and stir until the sauce caramelizes. It will look kind of chalky and dull when it first hits the pan, but within a few minutes the color will deepen and appear vibrant.

add the chili peppers and garlic to the oil

sauté the beef

add the sauce and scallions

cook until the sauce caramelizes

Serve the Mongolian beef while it is hot. It’s great on steamed rice with a side of vegetables. Perfect for a quick evening meal with temperatures dropping as we approach the start of fall. The hint of spice from the chilis and chili bean paste is just enough to warm you through to next summer.

garnish with some extra scallions

serve it up hot

mongolian beef and chinese broccoli on rice

Mongolian Beef
[print recipe]
from No Recipes

beef and marinade
1 lb. flank steak, sliced thin on a slight diagonal against the grain
1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1/2 tsp potato starch

4 tbsps hoisin sauce
2 tbsps Shaoxing wine
1 tbsp doubanjiang (spicy chili bean paste)

other goodies
2 tbsps vegetable oil
6 dried red hot chili peppers (the tiny kind)
4 cloves garlic, minced
5-6 scallions, sliced on the diagonal

Combine the beef, 1 tablespoon of Shaoxing wine, oyster sauce, and potato starch in a bowl. Mix until the beef is evenly coated. Set aside. In a small bowl, stir the hoisin sauce, 2 tablespoons of Shaoxing wine, and the doubanjiang together. Set aside. Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or sauté pan over medium high heat until hot. Add the red chili peppers and minced garlic, stirring until the garlic is fragrant. Add the beef to the pan and sauté until the beef is just pink in the center. Toss the scallions and sauce into the pan and sauté until the sauce caramelizes (a few minutes). Serve hot. Serves 4.

more goodness from the use real butter archives

chinese orange beef stir-fried beef with chinese barbecue sauce stir-fried flank steak vietnamese grilled beef salad

4 nibbles at “love thy long weekend”

  1. Susanne says:

    I am ALWAYS happy to read about chanterelles and hucks! Cmon now,girl!

  2. jill says:

    Mmmmnnnnnnmmmm, this looks like a lovely fall meal. Glad you had a nice holiday weekend. Neva girl is a true lab, and apparently retriever! Has she gone into her first “cycle” yet? xo, j

  3. I'd Eat That - says:

    […] Mongolian Beef–my family always ordered this when we got Chinese take-out! […]

  4. jenyu says:

    Susanne – okay! I wasn’t sure if it was just me :)

    jill – she got spayed last week, so no cycles for this little one!

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