Who would want to count the number of hamburgers, pieces of chicken, and slabs of steak that have come charred and dripping off the grill and onto paper plates this summer? To end the outdoor-cooking season dramatically, try a Mongolian barbecue.
Paper-thin slices of pork or beef are marinated for a short time and then quickly sizzled on a hot grill. Our grill is an improvision. (See recipe for details on equipment.) A standard barbecue or hibachi grate is not suitable because the meat would fall through. A genuine Mongolian barbecue outfit is a large drum built to contain a fierce wood fire and support a huge, circular steel top.
The method of cooking originated with the Mongols, a nomadic tribe of the bleak area northwest of Peking. Under Ghengis, Ogatai, and Kublai Khan in the 13th century they ruled the vast territory from the pacific to Eastern Europe. The Mongolian barbecue is still a popular way of dining of Peking. The practice has spread to Taiwan and also, on a limited basis to the United States.
To accompany the succulent meat we recommend Mongolian pan bread. Purchased hard French rools may be substituted. The meal might begin with tea eggs. Fresh fruit makes a satisfying dessert. TEA EGGS (Serves 6) The tea is used as a natural dye. It makes a beautiful marbled pattern. 6 eggs 6 teabags or 2 tablespoons loose tea leaves, preferably black 1 tablespoon salt
Put the eggs in a nonaluminuim saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook over moderately over low heat until hard cooked, about 15 minutes. Drain and run under water to cool.
Tap shells lightly with a spoon to make cracks all over. Do not peel. Put eggs in saucepan and cover with cold water again. Add teabags or loose tea and salt and cook over moderately low heat until dyed, about 1 hour. Drain, let cool, and refrigerate. Peel and cut in half length-wise just before serving. MONGOLIAN BARBECUED MEAT (Serves 6) Meat: 2 1/2 pounds boneless pork or beef, preferably loin Marinade: 6 whole small scallions 3 cloves garlic 1/4 cup parsley leaves, loosely packed, preferably Chinese (cilantro) 1 tablespoon sugar 1 cup water 1/2 cup naturally-brewed soy sauce, Chinese-imported or Kikkoman 1 tablespoon Oriental (dark) sesame oil Optional Garnishes: 4 hot red or green peppers 2 inches fresh ginger root 2 lemons 4 sweet peppers, preferably red and green 2 small onions Black pepper Rive wine or dry sherry
To prepare meat, trim and discard fat. Wrap and freeze. The day it is to be cooked, removed meat from freezer and let stand at room temperature until amendable to slicing, but still mostly frozen, about 3 hours. Cut into paper-thin strips with a large knife or cleaver. Arrange in an overlapping pattern on a platter. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.
To prepare marinade, trim scallions and cut into 2-inch lengths. Put in blender with garlic, parsley, sugar and water. Process at high speed until vegetables are finely chopped but mixture is not completely liquefied. Stir in soy sauce and sesame oil. Pour into a jar. Cover and refrigerate. May be made serveral days in advance.
To prepare optional garnishes, seed and chop hot peppers. Slice ginger root very thin and soak in 1/2 cup water. Cut lemons into wedges. Cut sweet peppers into 1/4-inch strips. Cut onions into 1/8-inch slices. Put all these garnishes, plus pepper and rice wine or dry sherry, innsmall bowls. Keep covered until ready to use.
To make a Mongolian grill, start a charcoal fire with plenty of briquets about 40 minutes in advance. Set one of the following on the barbecue grate: a steel paella, omelette, or crepe pan: a steel wok with a flat bottom; a cast iron frying pan, griddle, or "sizzle platter." (If the pan blackens in the cooking process it can be scoured with salt.) Leave on grill until very hot, about 10 minutes.
To cook meat, have each person help him or herself to meat and spoon on enough marinade to cover it but not immerse it completely in liquid. Top with any or all of optional garnishes according to taste. Then dump contents of bowl onto hot grill. Stir briskly until marinade is absorbed and meat is done, about 1 minute. Scoop out onto a plate. Repeat procedure for each person. Serve, hambuger style, with Mongolian pan bread or hard French rolls. MONGOLIAN PAN BREAD (Makes about 24 buns) 1/2 envelope dry active yeast 1 cup warm water 1 teaspoon salt 1 tablespoon sugar 3 tablespoons Oriental (dark) sesame oil 3 cups unbleached flour, approximately 1/2 cup sesame seeds, approximately
Sprinkle yeast over water. Let stand for a few minutes, then stir until dissolved. Add salt, sugar, and oil.Put 2 cups of the flour in a mixing bowl. Pour in yeast mixture and beat hard for 1 minute. Work in remaining flour.Dough should be soft and slightly sticky.
Turn dough out onto a floured board. Let rest for a few minutes. Wash mixing bowl with cold water. Knead dough until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Pour a bit of oil into mixing bowl and roll dough to coar. Cover bowl with a dish towel, put into a warm place and let dough rise until double in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.
Heat 2 heavy frying pans or a double burner griddle to moderately low. Rub lightly with oil.
Sprinkle board with about 2 tablespoons sesame seeds. Punch dough down; divide in half, and roll or pat out to a thickness of 1/4 inch on top of sesame seeds. Sprinkle with about 2 tablespoons sesame seeds and rool or pat to secure them.
Cut into 2 1/2-inch rounds with a biscuit cutter or empty soup can. (Let scraps rest for about 5 minutes before rolling and cutting again.) Arrange buns in pans or on griddle, allowing space for sideways expansion. Brush tops lightly with oil. Cook for 7 minutes, then turn and cook until done, about 7 minutes more. Adjust heat, if necessary, so that buns brown but do not burn. Repeat procedure with remaining half of dough.
Cool on a rack. Wrap in aluminum foil and put on a barbecue grate to serve warm. May be made in advance and stored in freezer.
SHREDDED CABBAGE SALAD (Serves 6) 2 pounds cabbage, preferably Chinese celery cabbage 2 tablespoons Oriental (dark) sesame oil 2 tablespoons rice vinegar or white vinegar 1 teaspoon salt or to taste 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper or to taste
Bring about 2 quarts water to a full boil. Meanwhile, trim and rinse cabbage. Cut into thin, 1/4-inch slices. Immerse cabbage in boiling water until pale green but still crisp, about 15 seconds. Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water to cool. Dry on towels. Refrigerate.
Mix oil, vinegar, salt and pepper to make dressing. Shortly before serving stir dressing, pour over cabbage, and toss. Taste and correct for salt and pepper.