Mongol, 01

After months of considering exactly how to make this work, we made Mongolian food for dinner.

Vegan Mongolian food.

Mongolian food is nothing like those so called Mongolian Grills, where you add various foods to a plate which are then cooked in a large wok. Mongolian food doesn’t have “all those fancy vegetables,” to quote a former teacher of mine. The Mongolian diet, in my experience, is over 80% meat and dairy, and the remaining amount is predominately starches.

One of the pieces are the heart of the Mongolian diet is cүүтэй Цай (suutei tsai), literally milk with tea. It’s also known as “salted milk tea.” The first challenge was to get this down.

There are several websites that explain how to make it. Take one part water and put it in your pot that is on the first. Next, take milk. Proper milk for this is milk that just came from whatever livestock you have, but any kind of milk will do. It ought to have a high fat content. After these get warm enough, add some tea. Most people I saw make it had cloth pouches they would put tea into. This tea, I was told, is some of the cheapest tea in the world. I was also told green tea would be an acceptable analogue. Add salt. Let cook for some time. Do not stir it. Rather, take a ladle and fill it with the mixture. Raise your ladle and let the cүүтэй Цай fall down back into the pot. Taste it periodically. When it tastes good, drink it.

First, we needed a good, thick milk replacement product. Realistically, any unsweetened xmilk would work. (xmilk being my term for ‘non-dairy milk replacement beverage.’ These can be soymilk, hazelnutmilk, almondmilk, hempmilk, oatmilk.) We decided to try it with some homemade cashew milk thanks to our the Acetarium soymilk maker. Cashew milk is pretty creamy tasting.

Since this stuff has a high water content, rather than using one liter of cashewmilk and one liter of water, we used two liters of cashew milk. We let it get hot. We had loose green tea, so we filled two tea balls with it and hung them over the pot using a carefully balanced chopstick. I filled the center of one palm with salt, likely not much more than a tea spoon or two, and added it.

We waited.

I used the ladle we had to mix it. It tasted pretty good, but not quite right. On a whim, we added a spoonful of Earth Balance.

We waited.

I used the ladle we had to mix it. I then raised the ladle, partially full, to my lips and sucked in airy sprittles of this concoction.

And it tasted pretty close. As close as one can make vegan cүүтэй Цай.

I happily sipped a bowl of it while we worked on other steps to the Mongolian meal puzzle.


Recipe

Two liters xmilk (I used cashew)
Two full tea balls of green tea (bags would likely work)
1 tbsp Earth Balance (or similar product)
2 tsps salt (more/less to taste)

Bring the xmilk to a near boil. Add the green tea. You can add it loose if you want to strain it later. Allow this to cook for a while in order to get the green tea taste into the xmilk. Let it be hot, let it simmer, but don’t let it boil. Add the salt and earth balance. Use a ladle to mix it by filling it with the tea and pouring it back into the pot.

Taste it periodically to get a flavor you like.

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