Photo by Jarrett Wrisley
This is a soup recipe which Wu'er Kaixi sent me. It's a Uighur soup, but it has Kazak and Hui influences, and they both eat very similar versions of the dish. I have also seen it seasoned with much cumin and chili in China's Xinjiang restaurants, or even turned into a western-style hot and sour soup with the addition of vinegar and spice. It would usually be eaten with flatbread, and maybe a few skewers of grilled lamb. His version is very simple, the sort of thing one might eat in the Gobi Desert on a cold night.
Kaixi's Hearty Nomad Soup
• 10oz (300g) Lamb shoulder or leg, cut into 1/2" dice. • A nice lamb leg bone (which you can get from your butcher, but chicken bones will suffice)
• 4 medium sized tomatoes, chopped into small dice • Half of one large onion, diced
• 2 medium sized potatoes, diced • 2 green bell peppers, diced
• 2 medium sized cucumbers, seeded and diced, or zucchini, or whatever you can find in your fridge that is green and seems to please you at the time.
• 5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
Make a pot of stock--with two quarts of water--with your lamb bone and maybe a carrot or some onion and celery. Or all three.
Heat a wok at medium heat with 2 tbs vegetable oil and stir-fry lamb until lightly browned.
Add potato and generous amounts of salt and pepper, and cook for few minutes.
Add in the onion and tomato, and braise to dissolve, adding some stock from the pot if the tomatoes don't release enough liquid.
Add green bell peppers and cucumber or other green vegetables, and continue to cook in the thick mixture.
Add broth, and cook for another 3-5 minutes (the longer the better, but don't let the diced potatoes dissolve.)
Season with coriander and garlic before serving.
Chef's note: Good to serve when a horseman returns to his yurt in the middle of a freezing night, or when a friend visits after a long exhausting trip, or to anybody who catches the flu, or after a few rounds of Islay whisky at 2 AM in Taipei.