Week 7 – MONGOLIA AND NIGER
Weeks have passed and we have had quite a bit of time off this project, seemed to have had a lot on at the moment. Sometimes cooking and researching a foreign meal seems like such a lot of extra work and time. I’m working hard with the ‘Around the World ‘ meals we have previously made, only have two more weeks to catch up.
My home expresso machine comes home.
A cause to celebrate – I have my expresso machine back! It was away being fixed for two weeks, oh boy I have so missed it! Normally only have 1 cup of coffee a day, at morning-tea time about 10.30-11am. First thing in the morning and in the afternoon I feel more like tea, but I really enjoy that coffee. Not having my expresso maker at home left me having to fall back on my old plunger pot. It’s not a bad coffee, but not nearly as good as the real thing. Filter coffee doesn’t produce much of a crema and to me that’s the best part of a good coffee.
Get this – this is so typical of our throw away consumer society, when I finally tracked down a repairer who could actually fix it – their first suggestion was…….just buy a new one! So I thought,’oh well, it is old, and a light is broken’ so I went and looked at new ones. But the same model is now made of plastic, whereas mine is all metal, and mine has an 18 bar pump made in Italy, while the new models are only 15 bar pumps and made in China. So I thought ‘no thanks, I’d rather keep my old one and get it fixed.’ Only cost $62 and it’s good as new, a new one was still over $200. But the guy in the repair shop (who were flat out I can tell you) said “most people can’t be bothered getting things fixed! “ Can’t be bothered! All they have to do is take it in for goodness sake.
Our throw away society
How did we become such a throw away society so quickly? My parents who grew up with the privations of the depression and the war, never threw anything away that could possibly be re-used – Mum even washed out plastic bags, and appliances were carefully maintained and used until they died of old age and couldn’t be fixed. Of course all these appliances cost a great deal more, being either made in NZ or imported from England, but they were made to last and they did. We had the same old refrigerator and washing machine my entire life, the idea of up-grading to the latest model hadn’t occurred back then. Then the emphasis was on frugality and making do, not gratuitous consumption and showing off.
MONGOLIA – Mongolian Lamb
Did you know? Some info about Mongolia.
I made this dish as it’s one of my husband’s favourites and he pleaded that he hadn’t had it in a long time! So I missed an opportunity to experiment with camel burgers or other interesting indigenous Mongolian food. So pretty sure everyone knows Mongolia is that huge country between China and Russia In fact Mongolia is the 19th largest country in the world and the 2nd biggest landlocked one, yet it’s also the most sparsely populated country. This vast emptiness is the place to go to escape “the maddening crowds.”
Known as the “Land of the Eternal Blue Sky” and the “Land of the Horse” it’s most famous obviously for Genghis Khan, who with his swift Hordes, extended the Mongolian Empire to cover more continuous land than any other empire ever – from the Ukraine to Korea and from Siberia to Vietnam.
The ancient capital is Ulan Bator once called Urga and was home to hundreds of Buddhist temples and 10,000 monks! The traditional homes are very beautiful and practical unusual domed tents called Yurts or Ger. The Greek historian Herodotus wrote in 450 BC that the notorious Scythian horseman of Central Asia, lived in circular tents. And Marco Polo travelling along the Silk Road, also noted the local nomad houses made of wood and felt which were moved on carts when needed.
Most of this country is open barren steppe with very little farm land, and bone dry, alternatively boiling hot or freezing cold. The Gobi which means ‘large and dry ” in the local dialect, is Asia’s largest desert, made up not so much of sand dunes but gravel plains and barren rocky outcrops. In winter it snows and freezes. Wild Ass, Bactrian Camels and rare desert bears roam the wilderness.
Mongolian cuisine naturally owes a lot to Russian or Chinese influences. Largely nomadic, the tribal peoples ate what was on hand, dairy, meat, and animal fats. Availability meant traditionally little use was made of vegetables or spicing, barley is a staple crop. Dumplings in all forms, soups and noodles are popular. Another time I’d like to have a go at making Buuz, a steamed meat dumpling.
Mongolian Lamb Stir-fry ( Serves 4)
- 650gm lamb leg steak, trimmed & thinly sliced across the grain
- 2 tb (tablespoon) soy sauce
- 2 tb black bean sauce
- 1 tb rice wine vinegar
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tsp (teaspoon) finely grated fresh ginger
- 1/2 – 1 tsp Chinese five spice powder
- 2 tb peanut oil
- 1/2 bunch spring onions, trimmed, thinly sliced crossways
- 1/2 red capsicum or 1 long red chilli, sliced
- 125ml (1/2) cup Beef Stock
- 1 tb soy sauce, extra
- 1/2 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp cornflour
- 1 tsp water
- 4 green shallots, ends trimmed, thinly sliced diagonally
Combine lamb, soy sauce, black bean sauce, rice wine vinegar, garlic, ginger and Chinese five spice in a large bowl. Cover & marinate 15 minutes – 2 hours if possible.
Heat 1 teaspoon of the oil in a wok or frying pan over high heat. Add one-quarter of the lamb mixture and stir-fry for 3 minutes or until brown. Transfer to a plate and cover to keep warm. Repeat with remaining lamb mixture, in 3 more batches, adding 1 teaspoon of oil and reheating wok between batches.
Heat remaining oil in the wok. Add the spring onion and stir-fry for 2 minutes or until soft. Add lamb, stock, extra soy sauce and sesame oil. Bring to the boil.
Combine the cornflour and water in a bowl. Add to the lamb mixture and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes or until sauce thickens slightly. Stir through half the shallots.
Place in a serving bowl and sprinkle with remaining shallots. Serve with steamed rice.
This recipe is a good family favourite, I recommend if you haven’t tried it yet, it’s easy and tasty without being too full on. There are heaps of recipes out there, but they’re all pretty much the same, this one came from a terrific Australian site I often use – http://www.taste.com.au Our family rated this meal 8/10.
NIGER – JOLLOF RICE
- Heat the oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion and chilli and fry gently for about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the onion is soft and translucent.