Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Culinary Tour Around the World: Mongolia

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.

Serves 4.

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.


FOODalogue said...

Great job, Rachel. The success of any recipe is that you would 'do it again'. So sorry you couldn't find your saddle bag.

Laurie said...

Hi Rachel, It's good to be back after my laptop disaster. I've had fun catching up on what you've been up to.

The soup looks very tasty! I've never considered Mongolian food.

Good luck with the Joust! I haven't participated in a few months, but it's great fun.

Love the ice fishing photos!!! I haven't eaten pike since my childhood, but I do remember how terribly bony they are - and how delicate and delicious. Mmmm

Liz said...

Mmmm. I love hot pot! That sounds like a great combination of foods and a good meal for a cold day.

Anonymous said...

Dear Rachel,

I recently found your post about this Mongolian dish.

Having lived in Mongolia for the past 5 years I can safely say that I have never seen a Mongolian herder eat such a dish.

Bear in mind that the only ingredients they have to cook with are mear's milk, flour and mutton. There are no fresh spinach, no gingerroots, no scallions, no vegetable broth, no soy sauce, no bean paste, no mushrooms only sometimes in summer some cabage if traders come past. The only vegetables they sometimes eat (and then with some suspicion) are carrots, potatoes and onions.

This being said, your dish looks delicious and would be great to do.

Best regards from Mongolia


Ivy said...

Mongolia was quite a difficult challenge to choose anything to cook but still you came up with a delicious recipe even if it is not 100% Mongolian.

NKP said...

Looks delish! I love a hot noodle bowl. Mmmmmm..

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

Excellent choice Rachel.See you in warmer climates:D

Alicia Foodycat said...

That sounds fantastic. Although I would definitely add some thinly sliced beef or pork to it!