Thursday, January 26, 2012
Of all the food I tasted in Mongolia, buuz, the country's dumplings, are the dish that won my heart. The recipe is pretty much exactly the same as for khuushuur, the fried stuffed pancakes, but instead of being formed into flat, oblong envelopes and deep-fried, the dough is pleated into a round packet the size of a baby's fist and steamed until cooked through.
The mutton inside is flavored with onions, garlic, salt and pepper. During Mongolian New Year, people make thousands of them. You often hear people asking, "How many buuz did you eat today?" "Oh, only 300."
It wasn't New Year when we visited, but nearly every restaurant we stopped at had buuz on the menu and dining rooms full of men slurping away at a white soup made of buuz floating in milk tea. These buuz were made for lunch by Bata's wife and daughter-in-law, whose names I didn't manage to catch. Mongolian food doesn't involve a lot of vegetables, so buuz and milk tea are considered a full and satisfying meal. Bata's family put out a particularly impressive spread by including a salad of homemade shredded and pickled carrots.