Mongolian Barbeque?? No, Khorkhog

The rocks, meat, potato and carrots are added to the pot

I have to admit, before coming to Mongolia I really had no idea of the style of cooking and food used in Mongolia. I mean, I had eaten Mongolian Lamb at the local Chinese Restaurant, I had eaten Shabu Shabu at other places and of course, I had heard of Mongolian barbeque, barbequing on hot rocks. Well, I have to say that generally the Mongolians are a patient people so will wait for lambs to grow up and become sheep (mutton), I have never seen anything resembling Shabu Shabu and the only barbeque I have seen in Mongolia is at BDs Mongolian Barbeque Restaurant which is, of course, an American chain. As a barbeque is an outside meal in Australia (and one cooked traditionally by men), I decided to recount the local equivalent. This is Khorkhog (pronounced like “horhog”) and is where river stones are heated in a fire and then added to the cooking pot along with mutton meat, potatoes (OK, so this is only a 500 year old traditional Mongolian Meal as potatoes of course were not known in this part of the world until only a few hundred years ago) and carrots.

The food is layered with a little water, hot rocks and salt and built to the top of the pot. The pot itself ideally should be airtight (and yes, I am wondering how traditional an airtight pot can be). In the case of my favourite Mongolian Family, a pressure cooker is used. The handles of the cooker are wrapped in wet rags to protect them from the later flames and heat. So, place some rocks from the fire, then meat, potato, carrots and a little salt. Add some more rocks and repeat the food layer. Keep doing this until the pot is full. Put the top back on and then place the pot back in the fire. Leave for about 30 minutes to an hour (no real rush here).

When the stuff in the pot is cooked, remove from fire, open carefully and serve. The liquid is put into a cup and passed around as a sort of really rich soup. The meat, potatoes and carrots are just so tasty. Eat with some pickles and wash down with ones favourite libation. Heaven.

2 thoughts on “Mongolian Barbeque?? No, Khorkhog

  1. RML 30 November 1999 / 8:00 am

    The khorkhog is nice indeed, and also resembles food we Westerners are adjusted to. But there's much more to eat and drink in Mongolia, mainly milk products. Many tourists like the airak, the fermented horse milk. It's light alcoholic (10-16%), like wine, has a taste that ranges from silky smooth to very sharp wodka-like, and makes you go pee more than Heineken beer. Milk products that are really nice and fresh are yoghurt, creams, and cream cheese. There are many other milk products but these are generally for the acquired taste of the Mongolians. But try them out, even if it's just a little bite. When it comes to proper meals, there's plenty of choice but nothing specifically Mongolian. Soups and borsht are always available. Meals are rich and usually are made up of meat, salads and rice. I prefer the beefsteak with egg but really every meal is good. Mongolian specialities are the booz and bainsh (big and small meat dumplings), and khuushuur. Khuushuur is almost like a staple food for the Mongolians; many eat it for lunch. Booz and bainsh are also eaten often and plentyful. A man is supposed to eat at least 5 booz. Booz and bainsh are usually also served during parties and festivities. When you're in UB, go to a canteen, bring a Mongolian friend and eat! For a dollar or less you'll eat more and better than in your hotel or the tourist restaurants.

    from: RML Shards of Reality –


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