Tutorial: Tsoivan (Mongolian noodles with beef and vegetables)On Mar 20, 2013 Dinner | Recipes 9 Comments Tags: Dinner, Recipes
Moving to Mongolia required major dietary adjustments. I grew up eating a variety of foods and considered myself fairly adventurous. However, after taking up residency in Mongolia I missed (shall I say CRAVED) my food. My good ol’ comfort foods like enchiladas with copious amounts of stringy cheese and fresh salsa. Oh, and lasagna. And freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. But, the makings for salsas were hard to come by–especially during a long cold winter in Mongolia, jack cheese was nowhere to be found. If I wanted tortillas I had to learn to make them from scratch, likewise with lasagna noodles. And to get chocolate chips I had to buy a candy bar (imported from Europe) and attack it with a hammer.
But, all this forced me to find a new comfort food. Tsoivan was it for me. I could probably eat it every day and not get tired of it. It’s a labor of love to make a huge pot of it, but my family likes it so much they ask for it to be on the menu almost every month!
Tsoivan is dish where meat and vegetables are fried together, then topped with homemade noodles. And the whole thing is steamed together so that the noodles are infused with the flavor of the meat. Rather than just share a straight recipe, I am making this a tutorial, because it’s a little involved. However, several friends and former missionaries to Mongolia have asked for Tsoivan lessons. I’m more than happy to share the noodle-love.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED:
2 pounds meat (you can use beef, mutton or lamb. I buy a hunk of whatever is on sale or use what I have in my freezer. Roast, steaks, stew meat, whatever.)
4 cloves garlic
2 large carrots
1/2 head cabbage
2 cups water
salt to taste
For the dough:
5 cups flour
Approximately 2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
First, start the dough:
Place all the dough ingredients in a bowl and start mixing it with your hands. It will be stiff. This is normal. The dough must not be even a little bit sticky. If you need more water, add it very cautiously. You may have to play back and forth between the flour and water additions until you get it just so.
When it has basically come together, place it on the board and cover it with the bowl and let it rest. This is really important. The gluten has to relax or you’ll never get it smooth–unless kneading bread is your superpower. I let it rest for 20-30 minutes.
Then you’ll knead it until smooth.
It will be so smooth and stiff that when you poke it with your finger the impression will remain. (Some who tried our dumpling recipe said that the dough was a real challenge. They thought they had it smooth enough, but then when they steamed them it got sticky. That means there was not enough flour. The dough has got to be not even a little bit sticky.)
Cover it with the bowl again so it won’t dry out. Now you get the rest ready.
Chop the meat into small chunks about the size of pinto beans. I find that this is easier to do when the meat is slightly frozen.
Dice the carrots and shred the cabbage.
In a large frying pan that has a lid (when I’m making a big batch I have to use our roasting pan) fry the meat, onion, garlic together in oil or ghee. Add the carrots and cabbage. Cook until slightly underdone. Salt the whole pot to taste. Turn off the heat, add the two cups of water. Set aside.
Now back to the dough. Cut the dough into six pieces.
Form each into a round ball and them flatten with your hand.
With a rolling pin, roll it until it is very think–1/16 inch or so. Set aside. Repeat with all six pieces.
Place one dough circle back on the cutting board. Pour a bit of oil (a couple tablespoons) on the dough and spread it to all edges. Place another dough circle on top of that. Repeat with the oil. Repeat with third dough circle and end with oil.
Then roll the whole thing up as you would a jelly roll. Set aside.
Repeat that process with the other three dough pieces.
Now you should have two long raw dough and oil rolls.
With a sharp knife cut these into very thin (1/8th inch or so) rounds.
Place on top of the meat and vegetable s that you can see the swirl. Layer them all up until the meat, vegetables and water are completely covered.
Place a lid on the pan and simmer for about 15-20 minutes, until the water is completely gone. Be careful not to burn it, but don’t keep checking under the lid either. You don’t want to let out the steam. That’s the magic.
When the water is completely absorbed and evaporated, remove from heat. With two forks start tossing it, gently separating the noodles.
(Linked to Tasty Traditions, Homemaking Link-Up, Fight Back Fridays, Best Posts Of The Week, Manic Mondays, Make The Scene, Try A New Recipe Tuesday, Foodie Friends Friday and Father’s Day Celebration Foodie Friday)