My Citizens! There can be no equivocation whatsoever that the far-ranging tastes of the Munificent One – the Arbiter of Good Taste who dwells alone at the summit of knowledge, YOUR TFD! – encompass many locales and genres. In music, for example, my tastes range from Malian Blues, American Jazz, Hassidic Reggae, Argentine Tango, Finnish Bluegrass and all the way to the extremely awesome Mongolian Metal.
Yes, and if you doubt my awesome taste in music, just listen to the glory of the Mongolian Metal band known as ‘The Hu’ as they play their native instruments in a truly head-banging fashion (complete with the eerie Himalayan throat singing that sounds like a Heavy Metal growl!)
Now that we have it out of the way that my musical taste is both eclectic and superb, let’s talk about today’s recipe – straight from the steppes of Mongolia, the stew known as khorkhog!
Khorkhog is a barbecue dish in Mongolian cuisine. Khorkhog is made by cooking pieces of meat inside a container which also contains hot stones and water, and is often also heated from the outside.
To make khorkhog, Mongolians take lamb (goat meat can be substituted) and cut it into pieces of convenient size, leaving the bone in. Then the cook puts ten to twenty fist-sized rocks in a fire.
When the rocks are hot enough, the rocks and the meat are placed in the chosen cooking container. Metal milk jugs are a traditional choice, although any container sturdy enough to hold the hot rocks will serve.
The cook adds other ingredients as desired (carrots, cabbage, potatoes) to make a stew, then adds salt and other spices. The ingredients should be layered, with the vegetables on top. Finally, the cook pours in a sufficient quantity of water to create a steam bubble inside the jug, which he then closes with a lid.
The heat of the stones and the steam will cook the meat inside the jug. The cook can also put the jug on a fire or the stove if the stones are not hot enough. The stones will turn black from the heat and the fat they absorb from the lamb.
The jug should remain covered while the cook listens to and smells the meal to judge when it is ready. The stones can take up to an hour and a half to cook the meat sufficiently. When finished, the khorkhog is ready to eat.
The cook hands out portions of meat along with the hot stones which are tossed from hand to hand and are said to have beneficial properties. Diners usually eat khorkhog with their fingers, although one can use a knife to slice the meat off the bone.
Khorkhog is a popular dish in the Mongolian countryside, but usually is not served in restaurants.
As noted on food.nomadicboys.com:
After cooking is completed, the hot stones are traditionally passed around for people to rub them in their hands. It is said that cooking these stones in contact with the meat fat gives them healing effects.
A competition usually breaks out between the men in the ger (the village) to see who can grip the stones for longest. We only lasted about 4 seconds…!
This dish is cooked in a milk jug in Mongolia, but here in the States, I’d use a very large aluminum pot such as this one.
It’s a simple dish, my Citizens – and my version is quite traditional but I guarantee your guests will be utterly charmed by it. Eat it with your hands as it was intended, juggle a few hot rocks for show and enjoy this taste of the steppes! Try it with some delicious Mongolian Khuushuur for a full meal – and of course, play some of The Hu as you eat!
Battle on – the Generalissimo