Sunday, October 9, 2016


Fall has finally arrived. I can now wear my boots, sweater jackets, and scarves without feeling like I’m suffocating. Well, I mean, in the mornings, I suppose. The afternoons still warm up to the 70s. This is the perfect time of year. I even saw a couple trees starting to turn reddish on top. I wish there was somewhere on earth where this was the weather all year round. 

Flea crackers, as I call them. But much tastier.

But it’s also the perfect day to cook some Mongolian food. Today, I started with making Mongolian Sesame Flat-bread Crackers. Starting with making the dough first, I mixed together 3 c of all-purpose flour, 2 tsp baking powder, and 2 tsp of salt in a large bowl. Then I cut in a stick of unsalted butter and added a cup of plain yogurt. I did add in some water to it, somewhere between ¾ -- 1 c. Once it started to come together, I began to knead it by hand. Once I got the dough to become soft, I divided it into four pieces and wrapped each piece in plastic wrap, putting them in the freezer for about 10-15 minutes. While it was in the freezer, I made the glaze: I beat together 1 egg, 1 Tbsp sugar, and 1 ½ tsp of soy sauce until the sugar was dissolved and set it aside. I just took out two of the dough quarters from the freezer to use first. I divided each dough quarter into 8 pieces, rolling out each piece so that it forms a rectangle about 2 ½” x 3 ½”. Then I took each rectangle and tri-folded them like a letter, placing them on a greased baking sheet. When I was done folding all of the crackers, I brushed them with glaze and sprinkled them with sesame seeds (I thought I had some white sesame seeds left, but I must’ve used them, so we used black sesame seeds). I baked these in a 350ºF oven for about 20 minutes until they looked golden brown. These were absolutely wonderful, although I couldn’t necessarily call them crackers. To me (and perhaps I’m using an American English definition), crackers are flat and crispy. These were small, but tasted more like croissants. But I could eat about 16 in one sitting. 

It tastes professional. Which is strange for me.
My main meal for today is Mongolian Beef with Spring Onions.  For this, I heated some sesame oil (instead of vegetable oil) in a saucepan and cooked the minced garlic and ginger for about 30 seconds before pouring in the soy sauce, water, and brown sugar. Then I raised the heat a little, stirring constantly until the sauce starts to boil and thicken. I removed it from the heat and set it off to the side. Then I placed my sliced beef into a bowl with some cornstarch, making sure it was all coated. I let this sit off to the side for about 10 minutes to make sure all of the juices were absorbed. In my deep–sided skillet, I heated up some oil and put in my beef to sauté for about 2 minutes. Once the beef was done browning up, I poured in my sauce. (If there was a lot of oil left over, the recipe said to drain the oil first, but I didn’t use that much oil, so there wasn’t really any to drain off.) Once I brought the sauce back to a boil, I added in my green onion that I cut into 2” lengths. I let it cook for about two minutes until the onions turned a bright green. This tasted like it came straight from a Chinese restaurant. I seriously thought this was the best part of the meal. I was rather impressed with myself. 

I've always been a fan of noodles. And I always will be.
I served the beef and spring onions on Stir-Fried Mongolian Noodles. To make this, I bought two packages of Japanese udon noodles (throwing away the flavor packs) and cooked the noodles in a pot of boiling water along with a bag of broccoli florets. In a separate bowl, I stirred together some hoisin sauce, soy sauce, a little bit of pepper, and some water. When the noodles were cooked and the broccoli was tender, I took it off the heat. In a skillet, I stir-fried some garlic for about 30 seconds before adding my noodle-broccoli mix and then poured in my sauce, stirring until everything was coated and mixed well. I let it cook for another couple of minutes until the sauce started to thicken a little. My original sauce wasn’t quite enough, so I stirred in another small dollop of hoisin sauce. I liked this recipe. It’s a pretty basic recipe that can be utilized as a base for a number of varieties. (And actually, the original recipe called for chicken, I just took that part out.) It went well with the Mongolian beef and spring onions. Like they were meant for each other. 

Not picture perfect, but they were rather tasty.
And finally to go with this, I made Mongolia buuz. I felt that I couldn’t cover Mongolian food without including buuz. This type of dumpling is typically eaten at special occasions and celebratory events like holidays. I started out making the dough: I mixed together the flour and salt, making a well in the center to pour in the water. Then I mixed everything together until it formed a dough; I laid it out on the counter and kneaded it by hand until it was soft. Then I let it rest for about an hour in the refrigerator. While it was resting, I made the filling. In a bowl, I mixed in some ground beef [in lieu of ground lamb], onion, green onions, garlic, coriander, salt, and pepper. I stirred it altogether so that it was consistent. When I took my dough out, I rolled it out into a log that was about 1” in diameter, cutting it into 1” segments. I rolled these segments out into a circle, trying to keep it thicker in the middle than the edges. I spooned a little bit of the beef mixture into the center and pinched the edges together as I rotate it to close it up. This was harder than I thought it would be. There should be a small opening in the center at the top. Now comes time to steam them. I bought myself a steamer insert just for this (and I’m tired of trying to rig something together that doesn’t work). I sprayed the bottom of the pan with a little cooking spray to keep them from sticking, and I placed them in my steamer that I set on top of a pot of boiling water. (It’s important that the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the steamer.) The recipe said it should take about 20 minutes to steam them with the lid on. I still struggle with steaming dumplings, and I had to leave them in longer than the recipe said (closer to 30 minutes). But in the end, they were pretty good. My husband loved them. Two are deceptively filling. 

Overall, this was a fabulous meal! I loved it all.
This meal was awesome. I was completely blown away at how good the food was. I’m not exactly sure that I had any expectations going into it, but I thoroughly enjoyed this. And as far as I could tell, my husband and kids liked it, too. I might have to say that I liked the beef and noodles the best. This is definitely one to repeat. I’m still going to have to work on my steaming ability. But at least I’m getting closer to having the right equipment. Maybe by the time I get to the end of this project, I’ll finally have all the things I need.

Up next: Montenegro

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