Mongolia – how to cook a meal in the steppe

The Mongolian grasslands

My work kept me so busy that I was even too tired in the evenings to update my beloved Man from Mosel River blog. After such a long absence I find it hard to get back to my writing.

Today I revisited the photos I took while travelling in Mongolia a couple of weeks ago. The waste grasslands made a deep impression on me. I greatly admired the hospitality of the Mongolians.

Almost a cliche: a lone rider with his horses traversing the grasslands

Cooking in these circumstances, maybe in a ger (yurt, a Mongolian felt tent), but more likely somewhere out there looking after the herds, is not an easy undertaking. One does not have the kitchen and cooking utensils necessary to prepare a gourmet meal.

The more I was surprised to learn about the “magic of the milk can”-cooking method. Alas there is human ingenuity.

This is how it goes:

One drops a couple of hot stones (usually larger river pebbles) in an old milk can (which were used in the good old days in our dairies), stuffs it with potatoes, cabbage and chunks of meat (mutton and beef), and closes the lid tightly for about 30 minutes, and voilà: the meal is ready.

I was told that a famous master chef confirmed that he had never eaten a better cooked piece of beef in his life.

The photos below give you an idea what it looks like.

It is an exciting moment when the cans are opened and they reveal their secret.

It looks a bit rough

But served on the table it regains stature, especially when Russian bubbly is on offer

A beautiful meal is waiting for us

..with some preserved vegetables…

..and potatoes and white cabbage as staples

PS: It was a delicious meal, I must say. I have to get used to the way the Mongolians cut their meat.

Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to taste the Russian sparkling wine. It was given to the women; we men drank vodka, of course.

What do you expect in Mongolia?

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