How's this for a traditional St. Patrick's Day post: Mongolian Food!
Joan over at Foodalogue is winding down the Culinary Tour Around the World event to promote Bloggeraid and world hunger issues and the current stop on this examination of culture and food across the globe is Mongolia. Foodalogue has a great post with interesting Mongolian tidbits and I took inspiration from reading that and another website about traditional Mongolian recipes.
Mongolian cooking reflects a harsh climate of extremes; hot, dry desert conditions in the summer and fiercely cold and windy winters. Reading about traditional Mongolian recipes was really interesting, but a lot of the hearty and nourishing recipes featured hunks of meat dried in the rafters of one's yurt (borts), wheat noodles and other glutinous items. I thought about trying Eezgii, or Dried Mass of Cheese, but my adventures in cheesemaking were curtailed when I couldn't find my saddle bag, the traditional container for letting these cheese curds ripen. :]
For the Crispy Cook Mongolian cuisine proved a real challenge in trying to come up with a recipe to cook for my wheat-free, meat-free husband.
In the end, I decided to make a hot soup that would be Mongolian-esque, that is, in the spirit of the nomadic farmers and herdsmen that need a hot and hearty supper to stoke their internal furnaces during frigid, windy winter season. It was a spicy, slurpy soup that we will make again, though the noodles I used were so thick they required a crazy amount of boiling, so I would go with a fettuccine or egg noodle pasta next time.
Mongolian Hot Pot
8 oz. rice noodles (I used thick ovoid rice cakes I got at an ethnic market recently, but any stout rice noodle that won't flop out of your soup spoon and splash you while eating is great)
5-6 dried shiitake mushrooms
4 cups vegetable broth
1 (one inch) piece gingerroot, peeled and minced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 bunch scallions, sliced
1 bunch fresh spinach, sliced thinly (substitute 5 oz. frozen chopped spinach if you like)
2 cups cabbage, sliced thinly
4 Tbsp. soy sauce (be sure to check if gluten-free)
Chili Paste in Soybean Oil to taste
Cook rice noodles until al dente in boiling water. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
Soak dried mushrooms in warm water about 10 minutes, or until soft. Drain, reserving mushroom liquid for soup. Slice mushrooms and set aside.
Bring vegetable broth and reserved mushroom liquid in soup pot. Add ginger, garlic and scallions and simmer 15 minutes. Toss in spinach and cabbbage and cook another 15 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Add noodles, soy sauce and chili paste and heat through.
Tofu cubes, cooked fish or shrimp, would also make good additions to the pot if you have them on hand.
Joan will be publishing a roundup of Mongolian recipes tomorrow, so hop on over to Foodalogue to see what's cooking! And if you plan to submit a recipe for the Bloggeraid fundraising cookbook to benefit the UN World Food Programme, don't forget that the deadline of March 31, 20009 is coming up.