Monday, July 25, 2011

Ming's Beef--a Palo Alto Favorite!

Category: Beef
Difficulty Rating: Medium

Ming's Restaurant in Palo Alto (CA) has been a local favorite since 1967. They are famous for their gourmet Chinese cuisine and upscale panache. "Ming's Beef", which is sort of like Beef Satay without the sticks on fried rice noodles, was one of my family's favorites.

Yes, my family loved Ming's. My mom even threw me a "Sweet Sixteen" party there. All my friends and I dressed up in evening gowns and sat at a large round table. It was so grown-up and wonderful. Until I, with a sweeping gesture, accidentally knocked the trays out of a passing waiter's hands. I really am SO talented. You could hear the crash and splinter of dishes in the next state.I felt really bad! After apologizing profusely and trying to help the waiter pick up his dishes, I consoled myself with this wonderful dish...


2 T cornstarch
2 T sherry
2 T soy sauce
2 T oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T sliced fresh ginger root
2 T sugar
1 1/2 lbs flank steak, sliced thinly across the grain into 3-inch strips
4 oz saifun noodles (also called rice or cellophane noodles), dry
Oil to fry noodles and for stir-frying (sorry, do not use olive oil unless it has NO flavor at all)
1/4 C oyster sauce


Mix the first 7 ingredients in a medium bowl or 9X13 pan and add sliced steak strips to marinate. Refrigerate for 15 minutes or longer. Fry saifun (rice) noodles in large (10-12 inch) skillet or wok in 1 inch oil. When puffed (a few seconds), remove to paper towels to drain.

Heat an additional 2-3 T oil in pan. Remove ginger root from marinade. Add meat mixture to work; stir-fry for 2 minutes or until meat changes color. Add oyster sauce; cook another minute or two. Serve over fried noodles. Use a little minced chives or green onion as a garnish if desired. Note: Make extra--this will serve about 3 people.


  1. Oh, the memories! I grew up in Menlo Park and my parents took me to Ming's every year for my birthday, my request, and I miss it so! We moved to Miami, Florida when I was nine, and several years ago, I took my son to Ming's on a trip back to California. Ming's used to give out their recipes on professionally printed recipe cards and my mother had two or more in her recipe box. I inherited and treasure them. Thanks for the memories!

    1. Do have any other Ming's recipes I could get from you?? I grew up in Menlo Park and Mings was our FAVORITE restaurant ever!!!

    2. I posted two the other day. I will have to look for the others. I grew up in Menlo Park too! Ming's EVERY birthday for sure! Do you have any of their recipes other than what I 'be posted? I would love the wonton soup one.

  2. I remember the original Ming when they were located on El Camino Real back in the 60's. I'm going to try this recipe. Any others you can post would be great.

    1. I first went to Ming's when I was 18 months old (in a basket), when it was on El Camino. That's 1959ish. By the time I could walk I could use chopsticks. Steve the bartender used to make me incredible Shirley Temples, with a lemon corkscrew down the center. Remember when those big, fluffy colored garlic and shrimp rice chips used to come out of the hole in the wall by the bar?

      Ming's moved to that big location in Palo Alto in the 60's, and the quality stayed the same. That was my birthday spot for ages, I so loved the Ming's Beef and Pressed Duck. Frank took some chefs and some staff to open Tao Tao in the 70's. Danny sold Ming's, and opened another restaurant in Palm Springs that was very popular with celebrities for some time. Tao Tao remained exactly the same for almost too long (it was getting kinda creepy - peeling wall paper, stained ceiling) but they finally updated it a few years ago. I still sort of miss coming in the back door, the smell of urinal cakes and that seedy dark bar.

      Unfortunately my Mother misplaced the recipe for Ming's beef and some others - it was a real PIA to prepare (multi-step), as is their chicken salad - but I still have that recipe!

    2. Can you post the recipes you do still have?

  3. Here is one:

    Ming's Chicken Salad:

    8 chicken thighs (or 1 lb other chicken)

    2 Tbsp light soy sauce
    1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger
    2 Tbsp chinese rice wine
    1/4 tsp white pepper

    Other stuff
    1 egg white, beaten
    1/2 cup flour
    1/2 cup corn starch
    1/2 cup sesame seeds
    6 cups peanut oil for frying

    The Salad
    12 green onions, slivered
    1 bunch chinese parsley, chopped
    1/2 cup thinly sliced water chestnuts
    2 quarts shredded iceberg lettuce

    The dressing
    3 Tbsp light soy sauce
    1/2 Tbsp dry mustard
    3 Tbsp sesame oil
    Juice of 1/2 lemon
    1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
    1/2 tsp fice-spice powder
    1 tsp salt
    4 Tbsp peanut oil
    1/2 tsp sugar

    The noodles
    2 oz cellophane (sai fun) noodles

    Prepare the marinade and marinate the chicken thighs for 20 minutes. Drain and mix with the egg white. Mix the flour, cornstarch, and sesame seeds together and dredge the thighs in the coating mix.
    Using a pair of kitchen shears cut the dry noodles into 2-inch lengths. Deep fry at 360 degrees for just a moment. Be sure to have a tray covered with paper towels ready for draining the noodles. They will cook in just a second or two and will puff up greatly. Fry them in 3 different batches and drain well. Set aside.
    Deep fry the chicken thighs at 360 degrees until golden brown and crunchy, about 14 minutes.
    Prepare the dressing and chop the vegetables. Debone the chicken things and julienne the meat. Toss all together except the noodles. They should go in last, just before serving. They are the source of the crunchiness that makes this salad so fresh and appealing.

    I didn't see your reply posts until today. I will see what else I can find. In the meantime, if anyone has one of their recipe cards or the recipe for their wonton soup, please post it. Thanks!

  4. Here's another of my Ming's favorites:

    Chicken Wrapped in Foil

    Ming's, Palo Alto, California

    3 large whole chicken breasts, skinned and boned
    1 scallion, green and white parts chopped
    4 tbls. soy sauce
    3 tbls. hoisin sauce
    3 tbls. dry sherry
    1 tbls. honey
    4 x 4 inch squares of aluminum foil
    Lettuce leaves

    Cut chicken breasts into 1 inch pieces. Mix with remaining ingredients, and let marinate for several hours. Put one piece of chicken and some marinade slightly off center on a piece of foil. Fold foil diagonally over chicken piece to form a triangle. Fold edges over 1/4 inch to seal. Chicken in foil may be frozen.

    Bake chicken in foil in a preheated 350 degree oven for 15 minutes. Arrange foil packets over lettuce leaves.