The Dumpling that Conquered Mongolia
Tbilisi-based Uta Beyer, a previous source of great culinary information and images for this blog, recently returned from a trip to Mongolia with the lowdown on buuz, the Mongolian national dumpling. Here's what she had to say:
Here's the story of buuz, the Mongolian steamed dumpling, one of the national meals of the Mongolians.
The philosophy of buuz starts with the meat, mutton or beef. Real buuz meat is not available at your local supermarket, ready packed and industrially minced; no. In 30 degrees Celsius and an orchestra of smells and flies, this meat has to be purchased at the local market – in the case of the photos here, the one in Mongolia's former capital Kharkhorin.
The minced meat then is salted and flavored with onion and/or garlic, and maybe other seasonal herbs. Cabbage or rice may be added. The meat is placed inside some dough (flour and water) and folded. Then, the buuz is steamed for about 20 minutes, on a stove in the middle of the kitchen yurt.
Buuz is eaten with pickled cabbage salad or pickled cucumbers. It is the traditional meal of the Mongolians during White Moon (Tsagaan Sar), the Mongolian lunisolar New Year festival (February 14 in 2010). During White Moon, thousands of buuz are prepared in advance in family homes and are deep-frozen. Buuz are eaten by hand. They are closely related to mandu in Korean cuisine (brought to Korea by the Mongols), they are similar to pelmeni and pierogi in some Slavic cultures and the name is a cognate to the names of similar types of meat-filled dumplings such as Kazakh, Uzbek and Turkish manti.