tsampa, momo, lephing and more!
Almost every family has their own way of preparing Thenthuk – equally delicious but here I’m going to prepare it in the traditional Amdo style – the way it was taught by my grandmother to be prepared in our home. There are three important components to a good bowl of thenthuk – first is the soup, then the labuk (daikon), and finally the dough. Usually, we boil some meat for the soup and the meal starts with the meat served as an appetizer, and then the Thenthuk is served after the meat has been polished off, usually with a side vegetable dish. We had it with some cabbage kimchi from our nearby Korean grocery.
1-2 lbs of Beef with Bone (I used beef short ribs but you can use any available but with bone or you can use soup bone alone)
Ginger, Onion, Spring Onion
¼ teaspoon Whole Emma, ¼ teaspoon Whole Pepper and Salt
3 cups of Wheat Flour
11/2 – 2 cups Water
½ Onion – chopped
3 cloves garlic – minced
1 lb Beef – sliced into thin bite size pieces
1 cup Daikon – sliced into thin bit size pieces
Spring onion – chopped for garnish
Salt, ground emma, ground pepper and soya sauce
Put all the ingredients in a large pot, fill it with water half way through and bring it to a boil. Once it boils, bring the flame down and let it simmer for 45 minutes or so. Ocassionally, you can skim of the scum that builds over the soup liquid. (preferable to use whole peppercorn and whole emma as they can be strained off. Add just a little salt to flavor the meat but not too much as you’re going to use the soup later and it’ll get salty then.
Put the flour in a large bowl, make a well in the center. Add one egg and slowly add the water, and knead the dough until it is firm but supple. Now, flatten the dough and slice it into strips about 1” wide. Add a little oil, and let it sit covered on a plate. This is your thenthuk dough ready to be pulled. (You can bypass the egg but the egg addition makes the noodle a little firmer – it absorbs less of the liquid and keeps its form. If you are like me, and like to have leftover thenthuk the next day, the egg makes all the difference – noodles are not completely mushy and so tasty!!)
The first step is to make the Labu or Daikon. In a pan, add a little oil and fry the daikon on a medium flame by itself until it becomes nice and golden. This step is what makes a true Amdo thenthuk – daikon prepared this way, adds depth of flavor to your soup. Once browned, leave it aside – it’ll be added to the soup at a later stage.
In a big pot, add the oil, onion and garlic and let the onion brown. Add the meat, a dash of emma, black pepper, salt to taste and as it browns, a dash of soya sauce to flavor the meat. Once the meat is nicely browned, add your strained soup stock and bring it to a boil, letting the meat cook nicely.
Finally, add the browned labu(daikon) and now you are ready to throw your theenthuk (pasta). I’m assuming most of you know how to pull the thenthuk dough – it sounds complicating but its quite simple. Basically, take one of the strips of oiled dough, flatten it out with your fingers and gently pull it till it is nice and flat like a long ribbon. Now, starting with one end, break of square thumb size piece from the end and throw it directly into the soup. Keep repeating – the trick is not to get the steam on your hands, so, stay a little clear of the soup pot and throw the dough into the soup. If this is too hard, you can pull of longer strips and add them to the soup. But its really worth the effort, the resultant pasta is heavenly. After adding all the dough, cover, bring to a boil and turn off the heat. Let stand for 2 minutes and your soup is ready to serve. Garnish with some chopped spring onions.
First serve the boiled meat accompanied by some nice spicy hot sauce. And then serve the bowls of thenthuk along with a side vegetable or two.
If you don’t have time to make the soup first, then you can skip it, and instead of the sliced meat, add some stew meat with bone and make the soup along with the thenthuk. Instead of cooking a side vegetable, just add some spinach or any other green leafy vegetable after your thenthuk has come to a boil – and voila, you have a complete dish to serve.