Sunday, November 9, 2008

Dutch Oven Mongolian Stir Fry

There are some local Chinese restaurants here in Salt Lake City that do something called “Mongolian Stir Fry" (sometimes: "Barbecue”). You get a bowl and you go through this line like a buffet. First you pass the meats. There’s all these meats that are sliced really thin, almost like potato chips. Beef, pork, chicken, and others are all there. Then you go past noodles and vegetables. You get to choose what you want, and you put it all in your bowl. Then you get to pour in all kinds of sauces, and add garlic and hot sauce if you like.

Then you hand it off to a chef (who, in Salt Lake City, is usually Mexican, it seems. Go figure…), and they put it on this big round metal disc like a table, heated with gas from below. They flip it and toss it. If you’re lucky, you get a chef who’s a bit showy about it. Finally, in a whoosh, they scrap the cooked food off the cooking table and onto your plate and hand it to you, ready to eat.

I love it. It’s great food, and fun to watch. One thing I love about it is, like wokked stir fry, the veggies are cooked, but still crisp.

So, I got to thinking that I could do that, too, in my dutch oven. And today, I tried it.

Dutch Oven Mongolian Stir Fry

8” Dutch Oven
12” Dutch Oven

8-10 coals each above and below 8” dutch oven
20+ coals below 12” dutch oven

In the 8”
  • 2 cups chicken Broth
  • 1 cup rice
  • salt

The Mongolian Stir Fry line

  • Chicken, sliced thin
  • Beef, sliced thin
  • Pork, sliced thin
  • Shrimp
  • Mushrooms, sliced
  • Celery, sliced
  • Onions, sliced
  • Bean sprouts
  • Snow peas
  • And any other veggie you care to add

The Sauces
  • Minced garlic
  • Soy sauce
  • Vineagar
  • Teriyaki
  • Hot Sauce
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Other herbs and spices
  • Any other oriental market sauces you care to add

I started out by lighting and heating up the coals for the 8” dutch oven. Light extras, because you’ll be using more for the 12” and you’ll need them to keep the fires going. While those were getting hot and white, I sliced up the meat and the veggies.

I put the rice and the stock into the small dutch oven and put it on the coals. The way I cook rice is to simply watch it for steam venting. That tells me that it’s been boiling for a bit at that point, and I just keep it on for about another 10 minutes. Then I pull the coals off, and just let it sit for a while longer with the lid on. The less you remove the lid, the better. If you can cook it completely without ever lifting the lid, you’ve perfected the art of cooking rice in a dutch oven!

Once the rice is on the coals, I set up the side fire with more coals. By the time the rice is almost done, those coals are ready. I put those coals on the little dutch oven table and put the 12” dutch oven on them, no lid, with a couple of shakes of olive oil on the bottom. Then I called the family dinner!

They picked up bowls in the kitchen, and filled them with the ingredients they wanted in their stir fries, and poured on the sauces they wanted, as well as the spices they wanted. They brought these to me, the chef!

By this time, the dutch oven and the oil was heated, and I just took the first bowl and poured it in. I had a couple of wooden spoons and I used them to stir the food as it was cooking. At first, I just did a quick stir to make sure it all got coated with the oil, then kept it cooking, stirring and tossing it every few minutes.

While it was cooking, I put rice in the bottom of their bowl, and when it was all done (I might have added a little salt, pepper, and garlic occasionally), I scooped it out with the spoons and put it onto the rice. Maybe 3-5 minutes tops, dinner DONE!

This would be a great way to host a party. You'd just have to make sure that you had enough ingredients and rice for everyone. You could even have 2-3 dutch ovens going, each cooking the stir fry.

Bonus note!

This morning, before church, Brendon was going to make his famous Pizza for his visiting grandpa. He asked me if he could do it in the dutch ovens. Duh! Of course!

So, this turned into a full dutch oven weekend. Three whole meals cooked in the black pots!


  1. I do so love your detailed accounts of cooking. Honestly, I don't cook in mine nearly enough, but I am surrounding by all things Dutch Oven on a daily basis.

    I have always heard the cooking vessels used in a Mongolian BBQ referred to as an inverted WOK. Usually they are three to five feet in diameter. The 'chefs' usually use very long skewers of wood to toss (and sometimes pound) the food items. Multiple chefs can cook at the same time by flipping the foods around the circumference of the inverted WOK. I have seen four or more chefs walking around the grill cooking in this fashion.

    The "Mongolian BBQ" style has made its way into many Asian Buffets. Many simply use a flat grill.

    As a suggestion. You could easily use the lid of a Dutch Oven as your 'inverted wok'. And, you could use a propane burner to maintain a constant heat source. Simply put a heat diffuser over the flame, put a trivet on top of the diffuser, and place the lid upside down on the trivet. Many people use this method to to emulate a frying pan. I have seen people use a lid for making crepes, pancakes, frying eggs and bacon, etc. It's not as deep as a WOK but would work just as good for a quick stir fried item like your Mongolian meal.

    Again, thanks for detailing your experiences with Dutch Ovens. I am jealous of your motivation and determination. It's great to be able to share your experiences through your blog.


  2. Thanks for commenting, folks! And thanks for your support. Hope you like the recipe!


  3. Very nice. I have also a site for recipes for cooking, but you have to translate the Google translate. I am from Slovakia.

  4. Flipping your lid (?) is a cool idea. You can use it basically as a skillet. I did that once when making a chicken soup:

    The challenge with that is that there's no side walls to keep your food from falling out onto the coals while you're stirring it up. Since I get pretty wild while I'm flipping the stir-fry stuff around, I decided to go with a full pot.



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