Mongolian Beef is an easy and delicious restaurant style dish that you can make at home thanks to a great new cookbook, Secret Restaurant Recipes.
I’m so excited to bring you an in-depth review of this amazing new book: Secret Restaurant Recipes by Leah Schapira and Victoria Dwek – and I’m giving one lucky reader a chance to win their own copy! Scroll down past the review and recipe for the giveaway.
Years ago, when Leah Schapira and I were just getting to know each other, one of our first conversations ever was about getting restaurant recipes. I told her that a local pizza shop makes a great techinah sauce – and she told me to beg for the recipe. And ever since then, I knew she has an obsession with getting recipes and techniques from restaurants and sharing them with home cooks. Now, she’s teamed up with another good friend of mine, Victoria Dwek, and turned that obsession into the hottest new cookbook: Secret Restaurant Recipes: from the world’s top kosher restaurants.
At a first glance:
Whoa. The cover is beautiful, and a good indication of what’s to come. It’s got a couple of really striking photos, plus a metallic stamping around the title. It’s striking and beautiful and makes you want to just dig in.
Once you open it… wow. Just wow. The photos are mind-blowing, and they have one for every recipe.
Once I opened the book and perused it, my first reaction was, “wow! There’s an amazing variety of recipes in this book!” You might think that a book of restaurant recipes would consist of all fancy dishes for special occasions, or that the mains would just be a bunch of steaks, but that isn’t the case at all with this book! Secret Restaurant Recipes showcases a wide variety of restaurants, from the fanciest to some favorite delis, and the recipes vary too. There are definitely recipes that I will be making for the next special occasion or holiday, but I have my eye on a bunch of everyday recipes as well!
The second thing that struck me about this book is how international it is. I’m a stereotypical New York-er (who forgets there’s actually life outside of NY;), so I was amazed to discover that there are Kosher restaurants in places like Pheonix, AZ, Panama City and Venice, Italy – and they’ve all shared recipes in this book!
Some features I like:
This cookbook doesn’t just have recipes! For every dish, there’s a HUGE, gorgeous photo, a write-up about the restaurant that shared the recipe (complete with suggestions on what to order when you go there). There’s also tips and techniques listed from the chefs who shared the recipes. The authors also teach you about the ingredients and tools used in the recipes.
The beginning of the book has a chapter on techniques, where the authors talk about some of the things they learned while watching the chefs, for example, the importance of cooking with super-hot pans, or how emulsification works and why it’s vital when making things like dressings and sauces.
If you’re often stuck for ideas when menu planning, you’ll find the menu suggestions very helpful, with complete menus for a fancy dinner for two, a cozy winter family dinner, a barbecue, a dairy luncheon, and lots more.
Lastly, but most importantly, there’s a real “cool” factor to this book. If you’re a kosher foodie, you’ll find it very cool to be able to recreate the dishes of your favorite restaurants (and to learn from the chefs!).
Some recipes I can’t wait to try:
Eggplant Chicken in Garlic Sauce – This is my favorite thing to order from Chinese restaurants, and I’m totally going to have to make this one myself!
Smoked Short Rib Tacos – I’ve never eaten at Reserve Cut (anyone wanna treat me?;) but my friends who’ve gone there keep raving about this dish – so I’m definitely excited to try it at home.
Cauliflower Bisque – another recipe I want to try because people rave about it after eating at Amsterdam Burger Co.
Yakisoba Pan Noodles – I’ve had the real version from Sushi Metsuyan, and it’s a delicious side dish and packed with flavor. Can’t wait to make it!
Sweet Potato Soup – I love a good soup, and the plating on this one is gorgeous. Plus, I’ve heard really good things about Citron and Rose, the restaurant that shared this recipe.
California Salad and House Salad – Both of these look delicious, and packed with flavor. Who doesn’t love a good new salad recipe?!
The Belt (Sandwich) – Grilled chicken, grilled peppers, pesto…plus bread?! Mmm. Totally need to make this one!
Tortelloni – The pastas at Ottimo Cafe (in Lakewood) are delicious, so I gotta try this stuffed version. The sweet potato filling and cream sauce are calling my name.
Who this cookbooks is for:
If you’re a kosher foodie who loves to eat out, you’ll love this book.
If you’re a kosher cook who enjoys making exciting new dishes, you’ll love this book.
Who this cookbook isn’t for:
The recipes in this book are somewhat more involved, so if you’re looking for 10 minute, 3 ingredient meals, this isn’t the book for you.
If you’re on a special diet, you may find that a number of recipes are not going to work for you, so you should take that into consideration.
What I didn’t like about this book:
Overall, I loved this book so much, it’s hard to say anything negative about it, but there are a few points:
Firstly, a number of recipes in this book call for expensive and/or hard to find ingredients, so those particular recipes would have to be considered “special occasion” food.
Secondly, restaurant food isn’t always the healthiest, and there are some recipes in this book that are kinda unhealthy too. (Like the Mongolian Beef recipe I am sharing now…I don’t often deep fry my meat for dinner.)
Secret Restaurant Recipes is a beautiful, almost coffee table book, filled with innovative recipes, packed with tips, and bound to make you hungry!
Let’s talk about this Mongolian Beef recipe from a restaurant called TK Asian Fusion in Oakhurst, NJ. The meat is velvety soft (thanks to the technique below, the sauce is insanely delicious, and I love how easy it was to make – start to finish, this recipe took me less than 10 minutes to make!
Before we get to the recipe, here’s a technique shared in the book:
“Cornstarch and egg white are used to soften chicken or beef in Asian dishes. This process is called velveting. This marinade can coat up to 1½ pounds of meat if you’re making multiple batches.”
- ½ lb beef, thinly sliced*
- pinch kosher salt
- pinch black pepper
- 1 egg white
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
- oil, for deep frying
- 1 onion, cut in thin strips
- 1 long hot pepper, cut into rings**
- 2 scallions, cut into 2 inch strips
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- In a small bowl, combine the meat, salt, pepper and egg white. Add the corn starch and stir to dissolve. Refrigerate and marinate overnight.
- Heat a wok or deep frying pan over high heat. When hot, add enough oil for deep frying.
- Add the meat to the wok and fry for about 3-4 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside. Discard most of the oil, and leave about 2-3 tablespoons for the vegetables.
- Add the onions and hot peppers (if using) to the hot oil and stir fry for about a minute or two. Add the scallions and beef.
- Add the sugar, hoisin sauce, soy sauce and sesame oil. Stir and cook for about a minute, making sure everything is evenly coated.
- Serve immediately, over rice.
Another tip from the book:
“To get this recipe perfect, we went behind the scenes and watched TK Asian Fusion’s chef in action. At Asian restaurants like this one, dishes are prepared in single portions in a wok set over an open fire pit. Preheat your pan until very hot to get the same results at home.”
Needed for this recipe: a wok (this is a great deal on Amazon as of this posting!)
Congrats to Chaya on winning the giveaway!
Giveaway Details! For your chance to win a copy of Secret Restaurant Recipes:
Please note: Each entry requires its own comment! Also – these are different entries than previous giveaways, so please read carefully. Multiple entries in one comment will only be counted once! You can do any or all of the following: Entry #1 – Leave a comment on this post telling me what restaurant dish you want a recipe for! Entry #2 – Sign up for Overtime Cook Email Newsletters and leave a comment on this post telling me that you did. Note: This is a new list, and will be soon be replacing the emails you may currently get notifying you of new posts. Entry #3 – Join the Overtime Cook Recipes facebook group and leave a comment letting me know that you did. Note: this is different from the Overtime Cook page on facebook. Note: if you already signed up that’s fine. Just leave a comment letting me know that! Giveaway ends at 11:30 aM on Thursday, December 11th. A valid email address must be provided. Winner will be contacted via email and will have 48 hours to respond. Prize can be shipped within the US. Giveaway is sponsored by the publisher.
Thanks for stopping by! Enjoy this recipe, and make sure to pick up a copy as a chanukah gift for all the foodies in your life!
Disclosure: I was provided with a free copy of this book for review. Additionally, the authors are good friends and colleagues of mine. My opinions however, are all my own. This post contains affiliate link(s), which means that a small percentage of every purchase made through that link goes to help support this blog.