Mongolian barbecue (Chinese: 蒙古烤肉; pinyin: Měnggǔ kǎoròu) is a stir fried dish that was developed in Taiwanese restaurants beginning in the early 1950s. Meat and vegetables are cooked on large, round, solid iron griddles at temperatures of up to 300 °C (572 °F). Despite its name, the cuisine is not Mongolian, and is only loosely related to barbecue.
Although Mongolian barbecue first appeared in Taipei in 1951, the stir-frying of meats on a large, open surface is supposed to evoke Mongolian foods and Mongolian traditions. The preparation can also derive from Japanese-style teppanyaki, which was popular in Taiwan at the time. One of the oldest Mongolian barbecue restaurants (Genghis Khan Mongolian BBQ) was opened in the 1960s, and is located in downtown Taipei, Taiwan. As Mongolian barbecue became more popular, it was successfully introduced to the West.
American restaurants, such as HuHot Mongolian Grill and BD's Mongolian Grill, claim that soldiers of the Mongol Empire gathered large quantities of meat, prepared them with their swords and cooked them on their upturned shields over a large fire. A German restaurant chain with the same concept claims that the Mongolian soldiers cooked their meals on a heated stone.
Typically, diners select a variety of raw ingredients from a display of thinly sliced meats (such as beef, pork, lamb, turkey, chicken, and shrimp) and vegetables (such as cabbage, tofu, onion, broccoli, and mushrooms). The bowl of ingredients is handed to the chef who adds the diner's choice of sauce, then transfers them to the grill.
The round shape of the grill allows two or more chefs to cook food simultaneously, and to cook quickly due to the thinly sliced ingredients, so the food is typically cooked in one revolution of the grill. Oil or water may be added to ease cooking. The ingredients are stir-fried continuously over the high heat and all food remains identifiable and intact.
Some American chains place the food on different parts of the round grill, sometimes in a special wedge shaper. Each dish is stirred in its turn, as the operator walks around the outside of the grill and turns each individual's food in succession.
When cooking is complete, each finished dish is scooped into a bowl and handed to the diner. Many Mongolian barbecue restaurants follow an all-you-can-eat buffet format, and allow multiple visits to the grill.
In Taiwan, a number of restaurants exist that specialize in Mongolian barbecue with additional buffet items available as well. These establishments often have names evoking the Mongol Empire such as Great Khan (大可汗) or Temüjin (鐵木真). The peak popularity of these restaurants was in the 1980s and 1990s.
In the United States, Mongolian barbecue is often found in American Chinese buffet restaurants, but some businesses focus primarily on the barbecue such as HuHot Mongolian Grill, BD's Mongolian BBQ and Genghis Grill.
In Japan, a similar dish to Mongolian barbecue called Jingisukan (ジンギスカン, "Genghis Khan") (Mongolian: Chinggis Khaan "Чингис Хаан") is prepared with mutton and cooked on a convex metal skillet. The dish is particularly popular on the northern island of Hokkaidō. The dish is rumored to be so named because in prewar Japan, lamb was widely thought to be the meat of choice among Mongolian soldiers, and the dome-shaped skillet is meant to represent the soldier's helmets that they purportedly used to cook their food.
- Barbecue restaurant
- Bulgogi, a popular Korean stir-fried grill similar to Mongolian barbecue.
- Khorkhog, a Mongolian dish referred to as "Mongolian barbecue".
- Korean BBQ refers to a variety of grilled dishes in Korean cuisine.
- Mongolian cuisine
- Saj, a convex griddle used in central, south, and west Asia for cooking bread and meat.
- Teppanyaki, a similar Japanese style of cooking.
- "AT THE NATION'S TABLE; Appleton, Wis.," The New York Times
- Davison, Gary Marvin, Barbara Reed. Culture and Customs of Taiwan. 144.
"Also very popular and superbly developed by Fujianese cooks is Mongolian barbecue..."
- Schwabe, Calvin W. Unmentionable Cuisine. .
- Cismar, Martin. "Barbecuing, The Mongolian Way", Daily News-Record
- "History Archived 2007-12-30 at the Wayback Machine." at BD's Mongolian Grill website. Accessed May 1, 2007. (in English)
- "蒙古烤肉" at MTour (呼伦贝尔旅行网). Accessed May 1, 2007. (in Chinese)
- "Idee" at Mongo's Restaurants' website. Accessed November 25, 2007. (in German)