Sunday, January 22, 2012

Soy Free Mongolian Beef at last

 Once upon a time, I had a wonderful, favorite Mongolian Beef recipe.  It came from a friend and was my go to "impress-guests" dish.  And it's been three years since I've been able to make it.  The cornstarch is a cinch to avoid, just use arrowroot or tapioca starch instead; the soy sauce and bean paste for many of our favorite asian style dishes, not so easy.  Up until now, I had not been able to find a suitable substitute for the bean paste.  I did find coconut aminos a little over a year ago which, with a little sea salt, is a great substitute for soy sauce.

It's available at Whole Foods and some better grocery stores and health food stores.  (The ones on amazon are overpriced.  I pay $5.99 a bottle at my local health food specialty store.)  But just recently, I found something to replace the bean paste.  Miso:  Soy.  Free.  Miso.  I had actually seen an advert for it a while ago but it was not a locally available item.  Well I finally decided to special order some from this little family owned, artisan miso company.  It is located at South River Farm in the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains in Conway, Massachusetts, and they only ship during winter months.  [South River Miso and South River Miso Tamari are unpasteurized, living fermented foods. We can not ship these products during summer-like weather. The extended warmth and vibration of road travel can induce active fermentation and cause expansion and leakage of the product. We minimize this effect by shipping only during the cooler months of the year. Unpasteurized miso and miso tamari will keep for an unlimited time when refrigerated; so you can stockpile these products to cover your summertime needs.]  Check out their website to learn more.  I'm only sorry I waited so long to order some.  Now that I know it works so well, I don't mind having to order two jars at a time.  I got the 3 year Chickpea Barley Miso and it is amazing.  

Update: They do carry misos that are both soy and gluten free for those that have both those worries!

As to results, well...  Darling hubby is a Mongolian Beef lover.  It is what he always orders for Chinese food and he would be happy eating it 3-5 days a week.  He sat down to dinner and took a bite.  His eyes practically rolled back in his head and he looked over at me and mouthed "THANK YOU."  I asked him, "Is it Mongolian Beef?"  His reply was, "It's better."  This is the highest praise possible from my Chinese food lover.  The miso gives all that umami flavor we were missing.  And he loved the sauce, which is not heavy, but extremely flavorful.  Most telling in his reaction was the fact that he did not even bother to add any tamari, which I had put out for him.  (He does like to add hot oil to his Mongolian Beef, which I let him put just on his own dish.)  He and R both had two helpings and there were happy noises all around the table.  I am a very happy camper right now.  So if you've been living with a soy allergy and miss some of your old favorite Chinese food, give this one a try.  You will not be disappointed.  (Yes, the special order is worth it if you love and miss this kind of food.)

SOY FREE Mongolian Beef
Serves 4-6

1 small flank steak (¾-1 lb.-ish)
2 small onions, sliced into strips
1 small bunch green onions, chopped in 1" pieces (optional)
oil for frying (I use sunflower or refined coconut oil)

1-2 egg whites, lightly beaten
1 tbsp arrowroot starch
2 tsp sunflower oil
1 tsp dry sherry
¼ tsp sea salt
few dashes white pepper

5 tbsp coconut aminos
1 tsp coconut sugar (or regular sugar)
½ tsp sea salt
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp dry sherry
1 tsp vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar)
1 tsp chili paste
1 tbsp South River Chickpea and Barley Miso
2 dashes chili flakes
3 cloves garlic, minced 

Slice the flank steak very thinly against the grain (crosswise and at a 45º angle gives extremely tender results).  It really requires a perfectly sharp knife to do this effectively.  Whisk together the marinade ingredients and toss together with the meat strips.  Cover and let the mixture marinate for at least 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, whisk together the sauce ingredients in a measuring cup.

Heat ¼-½ cup oil in a wok or large skillet.  Fry the meat in batches just until cooked through.  It won't take too long if the meat is very thin.  Scoop out the meat as it finishes and set aside.  Fry the regular onion in the oil until crisp tender.  Pour off all but a couple tablespoons oil and return meat to wok.  Pour sauce over the top and add green onions if using.  (Save a few for garnish if desired.)  Cook for a few minutes until thickened to your liking.

Serve with steamed rice.

This post will participate in Monday Mania at the Healthy Home Economist and Allergy Free Wednesdays at The Willing Cook


  1. Thank you so much for this recipe! I have a fantastic Mongolian Beef recipe, but my husband is allergic to soy. I usually just pull some beef out of the pan for him before I put in the soy mixture. I'd love to try your version with coconut aminos.

    On another note, 4 other bloggers and I are starting an allergy-friendly blog hop this Wednesday. We would love for you to share this or any other recipe with us. You can find it this Wednesday at

  2. Thanks! I'll pop on over. I have successfully used the coconut aminos to make Emeril's marinated flank steak recipe which we always loved. I have seen just soy sauce based Mongolian Beef recipes on Pinterest recently that look good so I'd go for it. Just taste the sauce to see if you want to add more salt to it.

  3. MM, sounds so tasty!! I already use coconut aminos (GREAT stuff) haven;t seen the miso paste yet, but will find some and give it a go! Thank you for sharing on Allergy Free Wednesdays!

  4. I looked for coconut aminos at the regular grocery store the other day and didn't see it. Where do you buy yours? I'm so glad you shared this at Allergy-Free Wednesday. I hope you'll come back next week!

  5. I get mine at a little healthfood store up the road a ways. I know Whole Foods carries it if you have those around. Otherwise, here is a link to the store locator from Coconut Secret's website:


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