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Mongolian Vegetables With Rice

January 29, 2013

If you’ve ever been to a Mongolian BBQ or a Mongolian Grill or a Mongolian Restaurant of any kind outside of actual Mongolia, then you have absolutely no idea what Mongolian food is.  😉  Not a clue!

At these fine eateries you find an array of colorful vegetables, a wide variety of meats from chicken to seafood to beef, and many spicy and fragrant sauces.  Delicious.  But, not Mongolian.  First of all, Mongolia is landlocked.  So, you can cross off seafood of all kinds.  Secondly, Mongolia is one of the chilliest places in the world and has a long harsh winter.  So, you can cross off most of those colorful vegetables unless they can be produced in a very short growing cycle (like cabbage) or can grow underground (like potatoes and carrots).  And thirdly, because Mongolia has been long shut off from the rest of the world (being sandwiched between two large countries with whom trade has had a checkered past) there aren’t a lot of spices to be had.  Garlic, onion, salt and pepper are about as adventurous as you can get.


Mongolia is known as the land of five meats: beef, mutton, goat, camel and horse.  Yes, you read the correctly.

It is also known as a land of milk and meat.  You see there are about 3 million people and about 27 million sheep.  All of the animals (listed above) that are used for meat, are also used for milk.  The milk is  consumed straight, but also fermented, dried, curdled, and every manner of wonderful things your American mind cannot imagine.   We have airag, which is fermented horse or camel milk.  A good airag is sort of an essential at celebrations such as weddings.  And then there are wonderful kinds of cheeses that are a bit bland, something akin to the Mexican cheese queso blanco.  Then there are tarags (yogurts) and tsotsgee (which is sort of like sour cream, but better).  And for the snack food of choice for every Mongolian child, you can have  aruul, dried milk curds.  I admit, that some of these things are an acquired taste.  Some I have acquired, some I have yet to.  My husband and children, however, like it all!  I only wish I knew how to make all these things!

But, I do know how to cook up a pan of Mongolian vegetables.  Unlike buuz, Mongolian dumplings, which required a tutorial and a dose of courage, Mongolian vegetables are very easy–almost too easy.  I wouldn’t necessarily call this a recipe.  Just something I whip up when my husband asks for Mongolian food, but I haven’t the time or energy to be pinching a bunch of dumplings!


What you’ll need:

  • Some meat.  If you are being really traditional, then chop up a steak or roast into very small…I mean, very small pieces.  If you have a life, just used ground meat.  Beef, lamb or mutton.
  • Some vegetables. Onion, garlic, carrots, potatoes, turnips, rutabagas, cabbage.  Although they don’t really grow it in Mongolia, it’s common to find peas in food, which Mongolians purchase in cans that are imported.  I use frozen usually.
  • A bit of oil, ghee (clarified butter) or lard for frying.


First you’ll want to prepare everything by giving everything a good chop, trying to make everything about the same size so it cooks evenly.


Then, in a large frying pan or wok, brown your meat along with the onions and garlic adding a bit of fat because, let’s face it, the meat here is just TOO LEAN!  No flavor!  You need that extra fat for flavor and so this dish isn’t too dry.  Add a generous amount of salt.  Being that Mongolian food doesn’t use a lot of spices, the salt is essential to keep this from being too bland.


When your meat is cooked through, add all the vegetables at once (except the peas) and give it a good stir and some extra salt.  Stir frequently, but not continually because it’s nice when bits of vegetable gets toasty and brown. Continue until your vegetables are ALMOST done.  Then add the peas and give it a good stir.  Cook a few extra minutes to let the vegetables finish off.  Don’t cover this as you cook it.  You don’t want the food to steam.  You want it to brown up.


I serve this up with rice.  Pictured is white rice, because sometimes I cave to my husband’s pleas.  If your veggies and meat are oily enough you won’t need any butter or anything on your rice.


12 Comments leave one →
  1. January 30, 2013 2:05 pm

    Mmm…Mongolia is at the top of my travel list.

    • January 31, 2013 10:26 am

      GO! You will not be disappointed! One of the most interesting places in the world!

  2. Andrea permalink
    February 4, 2013 7:26 am

    Daja, thank you sooooo much for this recipe! It’s kinda-sorta-a little bit like the hamburger gravy I make. I’m glad you mentioned NOT to cover the pan while cooking the vegetables cos I would have done that for sure! I found it interesting that there wasn’t any liquid added, to help “cook” the veggies through. But as you said, you don’t want to steam the veggies… you want them to cook.

    I’m going to make this tonight for supper. I don’t know if I have hamburger in the freezer or not but I have “meat of some kind”. 🙂 I don’t have cabbage or rutabaga either… but I’ll improvise.

    Thanks again for the written & pictorial lesson on how to make Mongolian Vegetables with Rice. You are a very busy & expectant mother of many, so your efforts to do this were not lost on me. I appreciate it… and you!!


    • February 4, 2013 8:34 am

      You’re so very welcome! Happy to oblige!!!

      • Andrea permalink
        February 4, 2013 4:15 pm

        I made Mongolian Chicken & Vegetables, Daja. 🙂 I didn’t have any beef in the freezer except a big roast… too much meat for this dish. But I had some boneless skinless chicken so I used that (but added fat as you suggested or it would have been dry-dry-dry). I didn’t have fresh potatoes but I had diced dehydrated & also dehydrated peas… but everything else was fresh… garlic, onions, carrots, tri-colored peppers. I served it over brown rice. The only seasonings I used were salt & pepper.

        When my husband took his first bite he said … & I quote: “Now this is OUR kind of food!! Delicious!!”

        I took a picture of Bailey holding her plate full & also of my wok full. I plan on blogging about it tomorrow & linking back to your site, if you think that would be alright? I feel like I must share this *deliciousness*! I won’t post the entry until I get your ok.


        PS– Bailey is full but she has a little bit left on her plate. She just said “I’m full but I don’t want to stop eating…. this is sooooo good!!” *lol*

  3. February 4, 2013 4:19 pm

    Of course that’s alright! Please do link to us! Glad the family liked it!

    • Andrea permalink
      February 4, 2013 5:03 pm

      Thank you…. and I surely will.


  4. February 5, 2013 2:00 am

    Okee-dokee! The entry is up… thank you for giving me a wonderful subject to talk about today, on my blog. Have a beautiful day!!


  5. April 17, 2013 8:58 am

    I will give this Mongolian veg/fry a try. It looks very good, but I will have to leave the oil or butter off and not be as authentic. Thank you for all of the information on Mongolia.

  6. johanna permalink
    August 10, 2013 3:11 pm

    Daja, do you have a recipe or tutorial for making aruul? I always got yellow, greasy and in the worst case moldy doesn’t-deserve-the-name-aruul..

    • August 10, 2013 3:38 pm

      Oh girl! I wish I did! My kids can put away a serious amount of aruul. Fortunately, my mother-in-law keeps us well supplied. But, I’ll ask some of my friends and see if we can hunt down a decent recipe.


  1. Answering Your Questions: How To Cook Vegetables So People Will Eat Them | The Provision Room

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