Ancient Mongolian Fish Cakes

Ancient Mongolian Fish Cakes
Recipe type: Main Dish, Side Dish
Cuisine: Mongolian, Ancient
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
This recipe for ancient Mongolian fish cakes comes from "A Soup for the Qan," by Paul Buell & Eugene Anderson, via It is really simple to prepare, and the only ingredient that may be difficult to find would be the asafoetida, which can be located in many Middle Eastern groceries.

This recipe is a modern adaptation of a traditional and ancient Mongolian dish. The people of the ancient Mongolian empire, the largest contiguous land empire in history, had a diet that was rather peculiar, even in their time, and continues to be widely misunderstood. For example, Mongolians would process and prepare borts (dried meat) for use in winter, made from the meat of cows, goats and camels. The common Mongolian diet was centered around meats as well as Tsagan-ide ("white food"), such as mutton, milk, rice, flour, and yogurt. Food was often cooked over a fire, fueled with dried animal dung as wood was scarce in the steppes where they dwelt, and to bake food they would place it on hot stones that had been heated in or near the fire. The extremely cold climate affected their choice of foods, which is why fatty dishes prevailed.
  • 1½ pound carp or trout, boned and minced
    mongolian fish balls
    Photograph by Richard Bowditch,
  • ½ cup salt pork, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
  • 2 tablespoons onion, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried orange peel, finely ground
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon asafoetida
  • vegetable oil for frying
  1. Combine all ingredients.
  2. Form fish mixture into golf-ball-sized balls.
  3. Heat 1 inch of vegetable oil in skillet.
  4. When very hot but not smoking, fry the fish balls until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side.
  5. Drain for 5 minutes on paper towels, then serve.
© 2004 by the Archaeological Institute of America


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