Monday, January 31, 2022

Beef Stir Fry #Recipe by Maya Corrigan

My favorite beef stir fry is adapted from a recipe for Mongolian Beef that appeared in Gourmet in 1977, the first year I had a subscription to the magazine. I cut out the recipe and pasted it on an index card. Back in those days, the ingredients were incorporated with the instructions. 

The original recipe called for asparagus, but I've used the same sauce and techniques for whatever vegetables I have on hand, and almost always include mushrooms. 


For the sauce:
3 tablespoons soy sauce (I use low salt, but either version of soy sauce works) 
2 tablespoon Hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon medium to dry sherry (or white balsamic vinegar)
2 teaspoons corn starch
1/2 teaspoon of sugar

For stir frying:
1 pound beef tenderloin tips or sirloin, cut into strips 1/4 inch thick or less 
1/2 to 1 teaspoon each of minced garlic and minced fresh ginger root
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
1 1/2 pounds asparagus, broccoli, mushrooms and/or other vegetables, cut in bite-sized pieces
Oil to coat the pan.

Sauce ingredients plus ginger and garlic for the stir fry

Combine the sauce ingredients. Toss the beef in it, and let it stand for 20-30 minutes.

While the meat marinates, cut up the vegetables and mince the garlic and ginger.

I like vegetables to be slightly crispy so I skip the steps in the original recipe of blanching the asparagus and cooking it in water. 
Heat the wok or a deep frying pan and add oil to cover the bottom. Saute half the garlic and ginger. Then stir fry the vegetables that take longer to soften before adding the faster cooking ones (e.g., asparagus or broccoli before mushrooms or greens).

Transfer the vegetables to a bowl. Wipe out the pan or wok. Add oil to cover the bottom and heat until hot. Saute the remaining garlic and ginger. Using a slotted spoon, put the beef in the pan.

Stir-fry the beef about two minutes or until it's just seared. Combine the vegetables and the meat in the pan and add any extra marinade. Stir until heated. Serve immediately.

Same recipe with bok choy, red pepper, and mushrooms

Serve over rice

This is one recipe that doesn't appear in my Five-Ingredient Mysteries featuring cafe manager Val and her grandfather. All the recipes in the books have only five ingredients. However, my sleuth's grandfather, AKA the Codger Cook, does use five-ingredient recipes that his wife made in years past, like the chowder in Scam Chowder and the fondue in Final Fondue.


When Granddad's houseguest is murdered while eating chocolate fondue, he and Val must stop a killer bent on re-creating Hitchcock’s creepy scenarios. 

As Val helps her grandfather prepare for houseguests, visitors to Bayport’s Tricentennial Festival, he reminisces about the fondue parties of the 1970s and makes chocolate fondue to greet them. One of them eats her final fondue that night. In the dark the murderer might have mistaken her for another houseguest or even for Val. When a fondue fork and a kitchen knife disappear, Val and Granddad team up to keep the killer from making another stab at murder.

Read more about the book.

Do you make any recipes from decades ago? 


Maya Corrigan writes the Five-Ingredient Mysteries featuring café manger Val and her live-wire grandfather solving murders in a Chesapeake Bay town. Maya lives in a Virginia suburb of Washington, D.C. Before writing crime fiction, she taught American literature, writing, and detective fiction at Northern Virginia Community College and Georgetown University. When not reading and writing, she enjoys theater, travel, trivia, cooking, and crosswords.

Visit her website for easy recipes, mystery history and trivia, and a free culinary mystery story.


Have you modified older recipes over the years?


  1. Thanks for the yummy sounding recipe!

    Still make recipes that were passed down from my Mom and Granny. I've had to adapt due to having to use what I could find. Biggest adjustment has been when it calls for a "can" which noting is the same size as it was years ago.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    1. You're right about having to adapt recipes to ingredients that come in smaller sizes. The amount in a cake mix has also changed! ~Maya

  2. That looks really delicious. Can you make it without a wok without any problems?

    I have a wonderful recipe for no-knead whole wheat bread with honey that makes four loaves. The recipe came out of a now-defunct community weekly 38 years ago, and is absolutely foolproof.

    1. You absolutely can make the dish without a wok. My photos show it being made in a frying pan. I had two woks in my cooking years, one electric and one for the stove. Neither worked any better than my pan. The whole wheat bread sounds great. I love those old recipes.

    2. I did modify the bread recipe, and use more whole wheat than it originally called for.

  3. I use the same recipes my Mom & her mother used with a few changes to use less salt & to substitute olive oil for Crisco shortening & lard. The most important change to their fried foods recipes though has been using my air fryer instead of deep frying. I'm just now looking into stir-frys. This one for beef & a veg looks really good & manageable. I'll use broccoli or green beans.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Linda. I modify all recipes to use less salt. As my husband, who likes his salt says, you can always add salt, but you can't subtract it. I've often made the stir fry with broccoli. I hope you enjoy it. ~Maya

  4. Love the 1977 suggestions for where to get these foreign ingredients that are in most regular grocery stores today.
    Looks very tasty. I made a version of Mongolian beef last week using non-meat ground "meat". It was very tasty, but much too salty. I assume yours is batter balanced.

    1. I use barely any salt for health reasons, Libby. Though this has soy and Hoisin sauce in it, it's not too salty for me.

    2. That's all mine had. I rarely add extra plain salt to foods. But the mix was WAY too salty.

  5. In the early 70s (or maybe it was the late 60s!), my mother in law gave me her recipe for a very similar dish, using beef, green peppers, onions, soy sauce and sesame oil. I make it at least 3X a month because hubby and I love it. I've somewhat altered the quantities from her original recipe, but have basically kept that same recipe all these years. I think of my late mother in law every time I make it.

    1. I make some dishes from my mother-in-law's recipes. They also remind me of her whenever I serve them. Thanks for your comment, Fran.