This is an Uyghur dish. Uyghurs come from what is now northwest China but their language and culture are more akin to those of people from Central Asian countries such as Kyrghyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tadjikistan. Like the people of those countries, Uyghurs are predominantly muslims. Due to the close historical links between Uyghurs and their Central Asian neighbours and, more recently, to oppression by the Chinese authorities, Uyghurs and, consequently, Uyghur cuisine can be found all over Central Asia.
As laghman is traditionally made with mutton, I had never tried it until a couple of years ago when I travelled through Xinjian provence, the heart of the Uyghur homeland, and had big problems finding vegetarian food. Most of the time I ate bread, pickles and dried fruit. Sometimes I ate Chinese food – usually tofu. One time I was in a small roadside village which was a service centre for lorry drivers and bus passengers. I was really hungry and I walked into the only restaurant and sat down. There was no menu but the waitress came up and put a bowl of tea and a bowl of laghman in front of me, then brought a pair of chopsticks. She went away without a word. I picked the bits of mutton out and ate the laghman. What a pity, I thought, that this always contains meat. There were so many vegetables and spices in it that the meat didn’t seem necessary. I resolved to try a vegetarian version but it was only two years later, when my wife said she fancied laghman for dinner, that I got round to it.
I used soy protein for this recipe but you needn’t. We just happened to have a little left in the bottom of a packet in the cupboard, so I chucked it in. I don’t see soy protein as a ‘meat substitute’. I don’t think such things are necessary, it doesn’t taste anything like meat and I don’t see the point in trying to make it taste like meat. If you make laghman without soy protein, it won’t be any the worse for that.
The noodles traditionally used are thick, hand rolled wheat noodles. You can use any kind I suppose but ordinary Italian style spaghetti works fine. The thicker stuff with the hole running through it is even better if you can find it.
A handful of dried soy protein
1 large potato
1 large carrot
2 green peppers
1 large tomato
2 or 3 cloves of garlic
1 level tsp. whole coriander seeds
A few black peppercorns
A third of a tsp. crushed dried red chillies
1 star anise
Either a level tsp. of vegetable stock powder, half a vegetable stock cube or a half teaspoon of yeast extract
3 tablespoons of soy sauce
A lot of ingredients but the preparation is fairly simple. You’ll be eating it within an hour of washing the carrots and potatoes.
Start by soaking the soy protein in hot water then peel the carrots and potatoes and chop them up along with the tomato and peppers. Put everything to one side while you peel and chop the onion. Put some oil in a pan (go on, stick a load in) and while it is heating, crush the coriander seeds and peppercorns. Throw them into the hot oil and add the chopped onion a few seconds later. When the onion is starting to brown, crush the garlic and add it with the chilli and whole anise. Stir and fry for a few minutes more then add all the other vegetables. Drain the soy protein, give it a quick rinse in cold water and fire that in too. Stir and put a lid on the pan. Stew the mixture for 5 to 8 minutes then add water to cover everything and more. There should be a lot of liquid in the final sauce – almost like a soup. Add the soy sauce and stock and a little salt if you think it’s necessary, but remember there’s salt in the soy sauce and stock.
Simmer the sauce for about half an hour then add chopped coriander at the end of the cooking time. If you’re planning to serve it straight away, start cooking the pasta about 10 minutes before the sauce is ready, then you can turn the heat off and leave the sauce to cool a little before the pasta finishes cooking. Serve the laghman in deep bowls, half filled with pasta then topped up with sauce.
Serves 4 to 6 as a main course
1 pound boneless lamb leg or shoulder
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup pomegranate juice, or substitute 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice mixed with 1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
3/4 teaspoon cayenne
1. Cut the lamb into small pieces, approximately 1-inch square, leaving on a little fat. Set aside.
2. Process the onion to a paste in a food processor. Transfer to amedium bowl and stir in the remaining marinade ingredients. Add lambpieces and stir to coat. Cover and let sit for 2 hours in therefrigerator.
3. Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill or preheat a gasgrill. If using bamboo skewers, soak 8 skewers in water for 30 minutes.
4. Thread the pieces of meat onto 8 bamboo or metal skewers. Don’tcrowd them: the pieces of meat should barely touch one another.
5. Place the skewers on the hot grill, about 4 to 5 inches from thecoals. Grill for 2 minutes on the first side, then turn. Cook for 7 to8 minutes more, turning periodically to ensure good color and evencooking. Cooking times will vary somewhat depending on whether you usebamboo or metal skewers and on the heat of your grill, and whether youwish to leave the lamb pink in the middle or to cook it right through.
6. Serve on the skewers, on a platter.
From “Beyond the Great Wall: Recipes and Travels in the Other China”
by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid
”This delicious cold spiced beef was are-creation of an old memory that haunted my family periodically“ afterthe restaurant where they had eaten it closed, writes Mai Leung in herbook ”Dim Sum and Other Chinese Street Food.“ I haven’t tried this butam posting it because I know other members, or perhaps other peoplesurfing the Web, are interested in Muslim style Chinese recipes. ManyChinese people use pork to flavor dishes, by Muslims cannot eat porkfor religious reasons, so Chinese Muslim food focuses on beef and lamb.She suggests serving with Chinese egg noodles that have been cooked,cooled, and tossed lightly with oil to prevent sticking. These aresupposed to be appetizer servings.
- 1 cup oil
- 1/4 cup raw peanuts, skins removed
- 4 ounces ground beef
- 2 tablespoons szechwan bean sauce (regular, not hot)
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground szechwan pepper
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 3 tablespoons white vinegar
- 3 tablespoons black soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 8 bay leaves
- 1 1/2 lbs flank steaks or tender beef
- 1 cup celery, in thin strips 1 . 5 inches long
- 1/2 cup scallion, in thin strips 1 . 5 inches long
- 1/4 cup red bell pepper, in strips
- 1/2 cup watercress
Heat 1 cup oil in wok to deep-fry temperature, then deep-dry peanuts over medium-low heat until golden brown.
Remove the peanuts with a slotted spoon or strainer and place on paper towels to drain and cool.
Put the cooled peanuts in a smallplastic bag or between two towels, then roll a rolling pin over them tocrush coarsely; set crushed peanuts aside for later use.
Mix the cayenne, Szechwan peppercorn, sugar, garlic, vinegar, black soy sauce, and sesame oil in a bowl.
Remove all but two tablespoons of oil from the wok. Heat this oil, and when it is hot, add the ground beef.
Stir and cook the beef until done.
Stir in the bean sauce, then the sauce mixture you have just made.
Mix well, then turn off the heat.
This meat sauce can be prepared a few hours in advance.
Fill a big pot with enough water to cover your piece of beef.
Add the bay leaves to the water and bring to a rapid boil.
Add meat and cook over medium heat until done to your taste – medium rare should be about 10 minutes.
Remove meat and pat dry.
Place the meat on a cutting board and slice into thin pieces, as you would for roast beef.
Arrange the slices on a serving platter, slightly overlapping each other.
Garnish with celery, scallions, red pepper, and watercress.
Pour the meat sauce over evenly, then sprinkle crushed peanuts on top.
Serve at room temperature, perhaps with noodles.
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article selected from Travel China weekly
|Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region is inhabited by many ethnic groups,and Xinjiang-style food is characterized by roast mutton, kebabs, roastfish and rice to be eaten with the hand.Urumqi China Travel: Urumqi travel information, Urumqi map, weather in Urumqi, Urumqi attractions for travellers to plan a trip to Urumqi.
Urumqi Map to learn the location of Urumqi on the big map
Xinjiang Tours: Private tours to Xinjiang delights: Urumqi, Silk Road…
Roast MeatXinjiang roast mutton is as famous as roast duck is in Beijing andcrispy suckling pig is in Guangzhou. A two-year-old sheep isslaughtered and skinned, daubed with salt inside and outside, and thencoated with a mixture of eggs, chopped ginger and scallions, andpepper. The sheep is put into a stove to roast for about an hour untilit turns golden brown.
Uyghur Region is the area that has the highest longevity rate in China.It has 25% of the total of people who live over a hundred yearsin China. In October,1985, the area was listed as The WorldLongevity Area by the International Natural Medical Science Commiteein Tokyo, Japan.
According to researchers, the reasons for the high longevityratein the area are related to the region’s weather, environment, and people’slife habits and physical quality. Yet it is alsodirectly because of their food structures. Uighur food is characterized bymutton, beef, camel, chicken, goose; carrots, tomatoes, onions, peppers,eggplants, celeries etc.; variou dairy foods; and variousfruits.
Thefood this lady is holding in this picture is called Sangza which iscrispyand tasty fried wheat flour dough twists, a holidayspecialty. Thefollowing are some more pictures of Uighur food. Please click on them fora better view. Toget a more detailed introduction to them, please go to Xinjiang-StyleCuisine. Finally to really taste them, please go toUighurRestaurant in Montreal, Canada if you are in Montreal or happen to be visiting there.