Mongolia in an RV
Jan. 13, 2010 4:58 pm
Updated: Feb. 1, 2010 2:27 pm
Whew...I'm so full and tired, I hope I have enough energy to write this! A lot of fret and stress went into making this simple one-pot meal. I was going to make a dessert, but after eating the Zuivan, I just can't...no room.
Mongolian people do not use that many ingredients in their cuisine, therefore, it's not really well-known. Mongolian Beef, that we all know and love, is not authentic Mongolian. The main staples of Mongolian food is mutton, and yak or horse milk. Tonight I made a version of Zuivan, which, in some opinions, represents the national dish. It's not really appreciated by tourists because of the smell. It is typically made with mutton. I cannot find mutton here where I am, and my husband won't touch lamb, so I subbed beef chuck short ribs. I chose these for a couple of reasons: they were in the discounted meat section and they were super fatty, it's no wonder nobody bought them for traditional ribs. Zuivan, traditionally, is loaded with fats and proteins which the Mongolian people need in order to survive the harsh climate of the country. Mongolians do not use much spice at all in their foods.
They use yak or horse milk to prepare 2 well known (within Mongolia) alcoholic beverages. The first is called airag and is made with horse milk that goes through a fermentation process. The second is Nermalike and it's similar to vodka and is extracted through yogurt. Suutei tea is the popular tea among the Mongolian population. It contains: hot water, butter, rice, lots of salt, yak milk and green tea. It's believed to aid with digestion, so it is drunk before meals--I could totally go for some of that right about now! NOT! Horse meat is more popular in the western parts of the country. Mongolians often use rock cooking, a technique that was developed centuries ago and is still widely used today. It is an extremely poor country and the major celebration is called Tsagaan Sar which is the Lunar New Year celebration.
So the Zuivan was made like this....
I had about a cup and a half of a carton of no-salt vegetable stock in the fridge, so I used that, added the 3 ribs and added more water. Next, I sliced up a whole onion and put that in. I used 1 sliced carrot and a small bunch of napa cabbage and 5 dried chilies broke in half with 2 smashed cloves of garlic. I added salt to taste and simmered the pot of soup for around 2 hours until the meat slid off the rib bones. Then, usually you make a flour type of noodle that goes in, but the recipe I found didn't give amounts, it just listed ingredients, so instead of making noodles, I made small dumplings. The ingredients for that were lukewarm water, salt and flour. That's it! I made walnut sized dumplings and put those in. Just as it was finishing up, I added one bunch of green onions, sliced. That's it! My husband ate 2 hurking big bowls of it..he loved it! I was suprised at how tasty it actually was! I admit that I added a touch of sriracha (of which, from now on, I will refer to as rooster sauce because I hate grabbing the bottle to see how it's spelled...so, remember...ROOSTER SAUCE), but that was only after I had really tasted everything. I just don't care for bland food, sorry! I was going to make a Mongolian type sweetened pancake type bread for dessert but neither of us can hold another bite, so sorry if that's disappointing to anyone, I just didn't want to make a batch of these and have them go to waste! But we did each drink a shot of Grey Goose, because if I'm gonna do a shot of vodka, it has to be good!
I came in $5.24 under budget and that is after I subtracted the $1.35 I went over last week in Italy! The best buy was the beef short ribs...$3.92 with 30% off!
I was totally dreading making the food this week, and now I have to laugh at myself for stressing so bad, because it totally wasn't. Not only am I getting a year-long crash course in world culture, I am also getting a crash course on using the computer! I find myself thinking about the Alaskan Natives...having to make do with very little in an extremely harsh climate and being able to survive, that's how I will think of Mongolia from now on...not somewhere to be threatened by or be scared of but rather a country that really does deserve our utmost respect.
My World Journal