Chopstick Cinema

Celeste Heiter's Adventures in Asian Food & Film

About Mongolian/Chinese Food

Chopstick Cinema

This Week's Film: Mongolian Ping Pong
Cuisine: Mongolian/Chinese

Mongolia actually refers to two regions: The Mongolian People’s Republic and the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of China. The Mongolian People’s Republic is an independent nation, while the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region is a crescent-shaped province that lies within the borders of China, just north of Beijing. There was a time during the rise of the Mongol Empire, however, from 1279 to 1368, when Mongolia ruled China.

On the contemporary map, China shares a nearly 3,000-mile border with Mongolian People’s Republic, and fully encompasses the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, but Chinese and Mongolian cuisines are dramatically different. As a nation of nomadic herders, the Mongolian diet is based almost entirely on meat and dairy products, along with the somewhat limited agricultural produce of the Mongolian plains. China, on the other hand, has a rich and elaborate culinary tradition that includes a wide array of ingredients and cooking styles. There is, however, some culinary crossover along their shared border, especially with regard to the limited use of dairy products in northern China, and the northern Chinese “red cooking” style in southern Mongolia.

Among the most well-known dishes in Chinese cuisine are so-called “Mongolian” dishes such as Mongolian Beef, Mongolian Hot Pot, and Mongolian Barbeque. However, these dishes are not truly representative of traditional Mongolian cuisine, they are Chinese interpretations. But regardless of their culinary authenticity, they are delicious nonetheless and I will be preparing one of them to enjoy with this week’s film.

My Mongolian/Chinese recipe will be posted at the end of the week along with my Mongolian Ping Pong film review.