Sunday, May 06, 2007

Tibetan Momo, or Yak Dumplings


Tibetans love their yaks. ToastMom's recent trip to China featured a stop in Tibet where she claims she was nearly drowned in something called yak butter tea, a horrifying salty tea drink with butter made from yaks' milk churned into it. Far more delicious, though, are these traditional Tibetan dumplings, momo (or མོག་མོག, if you happen to read Tibetan).

Nepal also lays claim to these tasty dumplings, and I first tried them at a Nepalese/Himalayan restaurant in Washington, now closed. Their warm-spiced filling and slightly fluffy skins have haunted me every since. Once I had actual yak in hand, another craving hit. It seemed serendipitous, so I made my first ever foray into dough production in an effort to recreate the magic.

This is, of course, part three of ToastPoint's exotic meat series:

***
Tibetan Momo

First make the dough. Combine in a large mixing bowl:
3 cups flour
3/4 cup water
pinch baking soda

Mix the dough until crumbly, then use your hands to knead the dough into a coherent ball. Add additional water 1 Tablespoon at a time as necessary if dough refuses to cohere. When a ball has been formed, cover the dough with a damp cloth and let it rest from about an hour.

Meanwhile, make the filling. Combine:
1 yak rib eye steak, approx 1 lb., trimmed of fat and minced (ground or minced beef would work, too)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 small handful cilantro, chopped
1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cumin
2 cloves garlic, finely minced or microplaned
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
2 Tablespoons oil

Let this mixture rest for the remainder of the hour. When the dough is ready, remove it from the bowl, knead it for another minute or two, then divide it into 1 inch diameter balls. Roll the balls between your hands, then flatten them into 4 inch circles. I used a rolling pin dusted with a little flour, but some recipes prefer momo skins made by patting each ball of dough flat with your hands. Your call. Put 1 Tablespoon of yak filling in the middle of the skin, then fold the skin in half and pinch the edges to seal them, making semicircular dumplings.

Put the dumplings into a steamer lined with a cabbage leaf or lightly oiled to prevent sticking, like the bamboo version pictured above. Steam for 20 minutes. Eat with soy sauce or jarred chili sauce for dipping.

For a hilariously weird version of this recipe, visit the website of Momo Tours.

84 comments:

Buddhist Jihad said...

Yak meat is sooo good. But yaks are sooo cute. I swear, I didn't know I'd had yak meat, until I already had it. You know the Chinese. Or perhaps you don't.

Anyhow, Momos taste fine with chicken, beef, or veggies and cheese.

But most of all -- Tibetan tea ROCKS!

Just thought you'd want to know.

Ulla said...

I am making this recipe tonight with my father's grassfed beef, it has a lot of flavor and think it will make an awesome substitute for the yak! thanks for the recipe!

Ulla said...

Thank you so much for this recipe!
I came out wonderful!
I love the dough.
It is so hearty and delicious!

leowgh said...

Many, many, many yrs ago, while vacationing at Darjeeling, I visited a Tibetan family with my Nepali friends. I was offered this yak butter green tea drink. They poured it fr a flask and my Nepali friend told me I must finish all the tea in the flask, or it's not respectful of the Tibetan family. Wonder whether that's true or my Nepali friend was just kidding. But i kind of like the tea, I think it tasted good, especially in the cold Himalayan weather.

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