Tsuivan is a fried noodle dish served with meat (usually mutton) and vegetables (cabbage, carrots, and potato), and is believed to have originated in China. However, thanks to frying and then steaming the meat in the same pot, the flavor of this dish is entirely unique to Mongolia. The noodles are usually made from scratch, while the meat can range from mutton, to horse, to tail fat. In the style of the nomads, whatever is on hand is what will work best. As one of the most widely eaten dishes in Mongolia, you should have no problem finding it wherever you go.
Khuushuur: Meat Hot Pocket
Another dumpling-like dish, khuushuur is more closely linked to Russian cuisine, rather than East Asian. The meat, whether it’s mutton, camel, or otherwise, is ground with onion or garlic, packed into a circle of dough, then deep fried into its final form. It can be compared to the American hot pocket, in that it’s a handheld meat-filled dough pouch, but with Mongolian ingredients instead of Italian ones. Size, shape, and protein can vary, but the best part is, it’s easy to find just about anywhere where you are in Mongolia, quickly making you a khuushuur connoisseur.
Guriltai Shul: Noodle and Meat Soup
This meat-based noodle soup is another traditional favorite, typically featuring a clear mutton stock, vegetables, and of course, hand-made noodles. Guriltai shul has two primary flavor profiles: acidity from yak’s milk curds, and raw umami from the meat. For those who don’t know, mutton comes from sheep over a year old, versus lamb, which is meat from a sheep under a year old. This soup is considered to be very nutritious, particularly because of its use of vegetables, a rare inclusion in Mongolia. Like most Mongolian dishes, guriltal shul isn’t rich in spices, but this light soup is packed full of flavor nonetheless. Sipping on a bowl of this stuff around the ger stove after a long day of helping with animals or driving through the countryside just warms your soul.