SHUA YANG JOU
Mongolian hot pot
5 ounces cellophane noodles or bean threads
1″ ginger root
3 green onions
¼ cup parsley, fresh
1 pound bok choy or Chinese cabbage
10 cups lamb or beef stock
24 ounces freshly-made dough or 8 sesame rolls
3 pounds deli-sliced lamb (thin as you can get it)
1 cup spinach
2½ tablespoons rice wine
2½ tablespoons sesame oil
⅓ cup soy sauce
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1½ tablespoons red bean curd or fermented bean curd*
* = or plain bean curd or tofu, not authentic but gosh, the fermented stuff can be hard to find.
chopsticks (for dipping and cooking the lamb in the hot pot)
something that acts as a hot pot, a pot with a fire under it, that goes in the middle of the table Slotted spoons or strainers (for dipping and retrieving the veggies in the hot pot)
sonic obliterator to use on anyone who says, “I want a big Big MacTM,” after all this preparation.
wire rack, if you are using sesame rolls
Serves 8. Takes 1 hour 30 minutes if you use sesame rolls, 2 hours 30 minutes if you make your own dough. This is designed to a leisurely dinner and can take up to two hours, unless of course, you have teenage boys.
Soak noodles in hot water for 30 minutes. While noodles soak, peel ginger root and grind into powder. Dice green onions, onion, and parsley. Separate bok choy into separate leaves into 2″ squares. Leave spinach leaves as is.
Add lamb stock to large, regular pot. Bring to boil using high heat. While lamb stock comes to boil, tear freshly-made dough into 8 pieces and shape them into balls. Add dough balls to pot. Remove dough balls when they puff up into absorbent dumplings. (If you are using sesame rolls, place rolls on wire rack. Place wire rack on pot. Remove steamed rolls when they soften.) Add stock to hot pot. Set level of heat so that the stock is kept comfortably hot.
Place sliced lamb in large serving bowl. Put ginger, green onion, onion, parsley, bok choy, and spinach in second serving bowl and mix together with fork. Add rice wine, sesame oil, soy sauce, cayenne pepper, and fermented bead curd to second mixing bowl and whisk together. Add noodles to third serving bowl. Place a dumpling on a small plate for each guest.
Guests should pick up slices of lamb, veggies, and bean curd with chopsticks and dip food the bowl with the wine/oil/sauce. They then put these items in the part of the hot pot nearest to themselves until the meat and veggies are done to desired levels. Add extra wine/sesame oil/soy sauce mix and their dumpling to individual bowls as desired.
After the lamb, veggies, and dumplings are eaten, the hot lamb stock, enhanced with the flavor of the dipped lamb, veggies, and dipping sauce, is ladled into the individual bowls. This meal is really a two-course feast in disguise.
1) As correctly noted above, fermented bean curd, or red bean curd can be powerful hard to find. It was especially hard to find in the fragmented Mongolia of 1205. Without fermented bean curd, a tribal leader could not offer his guests shua yang jou. No Mongolia hot pot, no guests. No guests, no tribesmen willing to support you as chief. No support, you get deposed. A deposed chief dies.
2) So finding fermented bean curd (FBC) became of paramount importance. Drought struck Mongolia in the summer of 1205. The bean plant crop failed on a cataclysmic scale. Whatever bean plants survived could not be put in water to ferment. No fermented beans, no FBC.
3) It’s worth noting that fermented plants stink. They increase in stinkiness with each successive day. The yurts, tent homes of the Mongols, could really reek if the dwellers were soaking a lot of beans.
4) Fermenting bean stench was a just as much a turnoff to lovemaking then as it is now. This is why the Mongol population had always been low compared to its neighbors. But with the disappearance of the bean crop in 1205, fermented in the tents stopped. Love making soared. Babies popped out like tennis balls from an automatic serving machine. The Mongols needed more land for their burgeoning families. The tribal chiefs had scant supplies of FBC necessary to make shua yang jou. The loyalty of their tribesmen began melting away.
5) Tribal chief after tribal chief launched devastating raids in neighboring tribal lands, carrying off whatever FBC they could find. Thousands died, banquets went unplanned. It was horrible.
6) Along came Genghis Khan. “Whoa dudes,” he said in fluent Mongolian as he was a Mongol, “there is some gnarly badness going on.” Yes, he was a surfer at heart. “China has lots of FBC. Iran has lots of FBC. Why kill ourselves for it, when we can totally kill them.” He pointed his finger to the south. “Are you with me?” The Mongols roared their approval. He was their one leader.
7) And so the Mongols, conquered, killed, and enslaved entire towns, cities, and regions which is admittedly bad. However, their conquests paved the way for the vibrant Asia-to-Europe spice trade. So some good came out of all this.