Yang Rou Pao Mo recipe, Xi'an Chinese lamb noodle stew with torn bread

Yang means sheep, rou is meat, mo is the unleavened bread and pao is like to steep or soak. This is a delicious soupy noodle/mutton stew with broken up bread bits and rich meat, usually eaten with sweet/salty pickled garlic which is actually divine. In a restaurant you get given the bread (or you can have it crumbled for you) and then you break it up then when you are ready they will take it away with your number chip or whatever then bring it back filled with soupy goodness. The smaller you break the mo up the tastier it will be.

Start the lamb boiling in water first then start making the mo as the lamb needs a lot of time. This recipe isn't that labour intensive but it does take time.

For the mo or flat bread, you'll need:
  • 500-600g of plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 250ml of water (use your judgement and add more if needed)

Mix the baking powder and flour in a big bowl, add the water and mix, I kneaded a bit then let it rest but you can leave it as a pile of dough if you want. Let it rest covered with a wet cloth, cling film or I used an upside down frying pan, ideally it wants to get about 25% bigger but I didn't notice any difference with mine, oh well. Start heating up a wok or frying pan, on an electric hob I used 6 out of a possible 9. 

Knead again then roll the dough into a log or just pull off pieces, I don't care about if my mo are even sizes so I just pull bits off. Roll each bit into a ball then flatten into a disc less than 1cm thick. I prefer to make them as thin as possible using my hands so they are easier to cook and break apart so mine are maybe 5mm thick in the middle. Place each one in the wok or pan without any oil, turn over when it has lightly browned similar to my picture above. Remove and leave to cool. My mo are a bit overly black because I constantly forget I have put them into the pan after turning them over once.

For the soup:
  • 1 big ol' lamb piece preferably on the bone, I couldn't get a shoulder so I got a leg, 1.9kg for £14, you probably just want about 1kg or a little less, some lamb bones would be ideal if you have any
  • Some spring onion, they were sold out so I didn't use any, 0-4 stalks is fine if you're using up the pantry
  • 3L water, or however much will fit in your pot, I didn't measure it just filled up the pot
  • 2.5 inches of ginger, sliced (don't need to cut it very small, I didn't bother fully peeling it)
  • 2-5 star anise
  • Optional 1 tsp sichuan peppercorns, 1 Chinese cardamom 1 tsp fennel seeds, 4cm cassia bark, I don't bother with any of these its just more hassle. 
  • 5 tablespoons chinese cooking wine
Put your lamb/bones into the pot, add water to maybe 1 inch below the lip, turn the heat up to high and start boiling, once the water is boiling turn the heat down and continue simmering, for me this was from 9 down to 6-7. While this is getting warm start making the dough for the mo, then leave it to rest. I had to cut the lamb up and use two pans as I don't have a deep soup/stock pan.

Through the first half hour or more there will be loads of scum produced, skim it off whenever there is enough and when no more scum is forming (or at least not as quickly), add the spices/spring onion, so for me this was just adding ginger and star anise (and mine tasted awesome). Turn the heat down a little more and cover with a lid, simmer for around 2 hours. I left the dough for around 45 mins to go do other stuff then made the mo and pottered around the kitchen cutting bits off the lamb til it was done. 

After this you can remove the lamb, and slice it up, I just used a fork and tore at it like an animal until it was in roughly bitesize pieces. I then transferred the stock from the big pan into another one, sieving it to remove the spices and bits of bone etc. 

Noodles, seasoning and garnish:
  • Rice noodles, I bought a 4 pack and then just made 1 at a time in a small pot to serve a bowl at a time since just feeding 2 people.
  • Some of the lamb meat you've already made
  • Handful of coriander, I didn't bother chopping just threw it on, if you use it regularly I'd recommend you just buy a cilantro plant to save money as a pack of fresh coriander is around 80p for me whereas a plant is £2 and has 3+ packs worth.
  • Doubanjiang or similar
  • Some sweet pickled garlic, not sure if the American stuff is the same if you buy things that aren't labelled as chinese
  • Soy sauce, chicken bouillon cube, salt, chinese cooking wine
Bowl of lamb and crumbled mo
Ready for soup to be poured
Bring your clean stock (no bones etc.) to the boil, add the rice noodles, add some soy sauce to taste, I put in 1 chicken bouillon cube because tasty. Add a bit of cooking wine. Once the rice noodles have softened and will swirl around your spoon happily, you are ready to serve. 

Serve with a few mo on the side for them to break apart by themselves, or you can cut them up in advance, pour the soup noodles over broken up mo and some lamb. Sprinkle with coriander, spring onion and add a dollop of doubanjiang (if they eat it), serve the pickled garlic on the side if you have any.
Finished product for lunch at work

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