World barbecue: Mongolia
Auckland immigrants tell the secrets of their homeland BBQ. * * * Barbecues are usually considered an outdoor event, so it may seem strange to go to an indoor restaurant for a Mongolian barbecue. But the style of Mongolian barbecuing certainly doesn't originate from a sedate evening meal inside. It dates back hundreds of years to the time of Mongolian warrior and military leader Genghis Khan, who ruled from 1206-1227 and is credited with creating a new Mongol empire by conquering parts of China, Russia, Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Afghanistan. Legend has it that the style of barbecue practised in restaurants such as the Genghis Khan Mongolian Barbecue in Pakuranga originated in Khan's hunting parties. Restaurant manager Alex Ryu said the men would end a day of fighting with a hearty barbecue. Camping on the banks of the Khan-Balik River in Mongolia, the warriors would use their swords to slice freshly slaughtered meat and vegetables into slivers. "Then they would put their metal shields on the fire, and put the meat and vegetables into them to cook." Mongolian barbecue restaurants no longer use open fires to heat up shields, but they follow tradition by cooking the food on large, circular grills which can be heated to 500C to 700C. Mr Ryu describes the meals as "well-being food". The intensity of the heat means the meat and vegetables are sealed quickly, locking in vitamins and flavours. Most of the dishes need only a minute's cooking. While the warriors would have been eating whatever animals they could find to kill, Mongolian barbecues now use a variety of meats, including marinated chicken, beef, pork and pieces of lamb. It is common to combine two or three kinds of meat together in a dish, with a selection of vegetables. Mr Ryu says Kiwi diners love the variety and fun of Mongolian barbecue as well as being interested in its historical roots. The buffet style means people can create their own combinations and then choose from a large variety of sauces
Mongolian BBQ stir-fry
- Cut the chicken and beef into strips about 2mm wide. Cut up broccoli, carrot, spring onions, cabbage and onion into pieces. Place meat and vegetables in a bowl.
- Pour over one ladle of sweet-and-sour sauce, one ladle of lemon juice, and one ladle of barbecue sauce. Add chopped garlic and mixed herbs.
- Barbecue over a high heat briefly until cooked, then serve.