A little sweet, a little spicy and a lot of delicious, this tasty Mongolian Soy Curls recipe is a vegan spin on P.F. Chang's popular Mongolian Beef. Once you have a bite of this addictively easy to assemble dish, you'll be saying "vegan beef - it's what's for dinner!"
One of my favorite things to do in the kitchen is to vegan-ize all the dishes I used to love before going plant-based. I've actually gotten really good at it - just check out my Cashew Mac & Cheese, Ranch Pasta Salad, and Vegan Queso if you need some convincing.
This yummy recipe for Mongolian soy curls tastes just like my favorite meal from PF Chang's, but is a world away from the salt and sugar-laden restaurant dish.
Not only is this vegan Mongolian beef recipe entirely plant-based (meaning no animals were harmed to make it), but it's also cheaper, healthier, AND quicker to make than going out. That, my friends, is what I call comfort food.
The sauce has a killer balance of sweet and salty with just a touch of heat, and the soy curls are a darn convincing substitute for meat. Oh, and this delightful vegan beef copycat recipe takes less than 30 minutes to get on the table. You're welcome.
So what are you waiting for? Let's get in the kitchen and make this easy Mongolian Soy Curls recipe stat!
What is Vegan Beef?
Soy curls are dehydrated strips of soy protein made out of whole, non-GMO soybeans. They are cooked slowly until they're soft, made into strands, then dried at a low temperature and packaged.
These tasty little nuggets have no flavoring of their own, meaning they're the perfect sponges for whatever flavor you throw at them. They turned out to be an excellent substitute for the meat in this vegan Mongolian beef recipe, offering the perfect amount of chew.
Since they already come in small bites, there's no knife work involved to prep the soy curls. As an added bonus, they're shelf stable. If you have some in stock at your house, a healthy, tasty, vegan dinner is never far from the table.
Do yourself a favor and grab some for your pantry - you won't be sad you did!
Are Soy Curls Healthy?
According to Butler Foods (the company that makes soy curls), the curls are certified non-GMO and are also grown without chemical pesticides.
They're not like most meat alternatives that are made out of soy protein isolates which can be filled with all sorts of unhealthy added ingredients.
They don't contain any chemicals, additives, or preservatives, but they DO contain an impressive 10 grams of protein in every serving.
That's why I think soy curls are a great alternative to meat. Why wouldn't you want to make this vegan version of Mongolian beef if it's tasty, non-GMO and you can save some cows?
What's in Vegan Mongolian Beef?
I found a "copycat" recipe for the P.F. Chang's Mongolian beef from Food.com. I took a few ideas from that recipe and put my healthy vegan spin on it.
The copycat sauce recipe calls for a whopping ⅔ cup of sugar, which is probably accurate for restaurant cooking. However, as a nutritionist I just couldn't let that slide, so for my Mongolian soy curls I came up with a recipe that only uses 1 Tablespoon of maple syrup. That's a massive improvement, don't you think?
Frying the meal in a whole cup of oil also seemed outside my realm of healthful comfort, so I decided to bake the soy curls. They still crisped up, but without all those extra calories!
Note: Some healthy fat is good, but deep-fried food is something I'd generally advise against having too often. If you'd like more of a fried feel to the soy curls, you can use the air fryer instead of baking.
Ingredients & Substitutions
You can make this soy curl recipe with these ingredients:
- Butler soy curls: These are a great vegan sub for beef!
- Avocado oil (optional): To help the soy curls crisp up a bit. This is optional. You can use parchment paper when baking instead of the oil or use an air fryer with no oil. You can sub melted coconut oil or olive oil for the avocado oil.
- Cornstarch: To thicken the sauce. You can sub arrowroot powder.
- Tamari: For a little umami flavor and saltiness. Swap it for soy sauce if you don't need this gluten-free. I also like to use reduced-sodium tamari.
- Vegetable broth: You can sub water if you do not have veggie broth.
- Garlic and ginger: These add flavor to the sauce. You can use fresh or sub powdered.
- Maple syrup: For a touch of sweetness. You can replace this with a little cane, agave syrup, or coconut sugar.
- Red pepper flakes: To make it a little spicy!
How to Make This Soy Curl Recipe
Step 1. First thing's first - let's reconstitute those soy curls.
Soak soy curls in boiling water for 10 minutes (or until fully rehydrated).
Step 2. Drain soy curls and press all the water out of them. I usually rinse them with cold water then wring them out with my hands. You want to get as much water out of them as possible to get the right consistency.
Step 3 is cooking the soy curls.
If you're baking the soy curls, you have one of two options: cover the baking pan with a light coat of oil or use parchment paper so soy curls do not stick to it. I like using parchment - it makes cleanup a snap AND keeps my calories in check.
Add soy curls to a baking pan and bake for 15 minutes, turning a few times for even cooking and to prevent sticking.
You could also air fry them at 370 degrees for 6 minutes (shaking halfway through).
Step 4. While soy curls are baking, mix sauce ingredients together in a sauce pot and heat to a boil.
Once boiling, turn down the heat and cook for a few minutes until the sauce thickens just a bit. If the sauce gets too thick add a bit more veggie broth.
Step 5. Pour the sauce over the soy curls and toss to combine.
Step 6. Dinner is served! To round out my meal, I served my Mongolian soy curls over brown rice with a side of steamed broccoli. Top with some sesame seeds and sliced green onions for a bit of flavor and crunch. YUM!
This recipe for vegan Mongolian beef is just begging for a grain to soak up all the extra tasty sauce. I generally reach for plain ol' brown rice, but any type of white or brown rice, long grain or short, jasmine or basmati will do. You can also opt to swap in quinoa if you prefer!
If you've been following the blog for awhile, you also know that I love adding veggies to basically any meal. This recipe for Mongolian soy curls is no exception. Broccoli florets, sliced onions or bell peppers, carrot rounds, and cubed eggplant are all tasty additions.
Feel free to steam, roast, or sauté your veggies to the right consistency. I also suggest doubling the sauce recipe if you want everything to be glazed and delicious.
Rehydrated Soy Curls can be kept covered in the refrigerator for up to four days before using
So long as you eat the soy curls within a week of reconstituting them in water, you should be good to go! Leftovers of this vegan Mongolian beef will therefore last for up to a week in the fridge, making it a great meal prep meal. You can also freeze the leftovers for up to a month.
If corn is not part of your diet, I suggest swapping in an equal amount of arrowroot powder instead or double the amount of tapioca starch instead. Just be sure to use the sauce right away, as these thickeners don't hold up as well as cornstarch.
Also, please note that if you use tapioca starch, you should keep the sauce to a simmer rather than boiling. Boiling tapioca thickened sauces can create unappealing stringy masses in the sauce.
Tamari is basically a gluten free version of soy sauce. You can also swap in regular soy sauce, Bragg's liquid aminos or coconut aminos instead.
Other "Meaty" Vegan Recipes
Looking for a few more Vegan Meat Substitutes like this soy curls recipe? Check these out!
If you make this recipe and LOVE IT, please give it 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐!
Mongolian Soy Curls
FOR THE SOY CURL "BEEF"
- 2 C soy curls
- Boiling water (enough to cover soy curls)
- 1 TB avocado oil or melted coconut oil (optional)
FOR THE SAUCE
- 1 TB cornstarch mixed with 1 TB of warm water
- 3 TB tamari or soy sauce if not gf
- ⅓ cup veggie broth (more if the sauce gets too thick)
- 2 cloves garlic minced (or sub ½ teaspoon garlic powder)
- ½ teaspoon ginger minced (or sub ¼ teaspoon powdered ginger)
- 1 TB maple syrup
- ½-1 TB red pepper flakes (depending on how hot you like it)
- Soak soy curls in boiling water for 10 minutes (or until fully rehydrated).
- Drain soy curls and press all the water out of them. I usually rinse them with cold water then wring them out with my hands. You want as much water out of them as possible.
- Preheat oven or toaster over to 375 degrees.
- Cover baking pan with oil so soy curls do not stick to it or use parchment paper.
- Add soy curls to baking pan and bake for 15 minutes, turning a few times so that nothing is sticking to the pan.
Air Fryer Instructions
- Air fry soy curls at 370 degrees for 6 minutes, shaking the basket halfway through.
- While soy curls are cooking, mix sauce ingredients together, add to sauce pot and heat to a boil.
- Once boiling, turn down heat and cook for a few minutes until sauce thickens just a bit. If sauce gets too thick add a bit more veggie broth.
- Pour over soy curls and enjoy!
- soy sauce for tamari if you don't need it gluten-free
- arrowroot powder for cornstarch
- a little agave, cane sugar, or coconut sugar for maple syrup
PLEASE NOTE: Nutritional information data is computer generated and only an estimate so it should be used only as a guide.
Mary Ellen Valverde MS, CNS, LDN is a Licensed Nutritionist and Certified Nutrition Specialist who empowers vegans to feel clear and confident about what is uniquely nourishing to them. Mary Ellen's recipes and nutrition information have been featured on Yahoo News, Parade, VegNews, LIVESTRONG, Dr. Axe, Greatist, LIVEKINDLY, Brit+Co, Well+Good, and more.