Yang Rou Pao Mo (Crumbled Unleavened Bread Soaked in Mutton Stew)
Yang Rou Pao Mo is a local dish that is enjoyed throughout Shaanxi Province but is particularly popular in Xi'an City as a traditional nourishing meal. Not only do the local people enjoy it on a regular basis; it is also often appreciated by visiting celebrities.
A highly seasoned mutton gravy in which bread is soaked, Yang Rou Pau Mo smells and tastes great. When the weather is cold, this dish is a sure way to warm you up! Many restaurants in Xi'an serve Yang Rou Pao Mo but among the best known is the Lao Sun Jia, established in 1898 and the Tong Sheng Xiang where they have been serving excellent food for almost a century. Both establishments can be recommended if you wish to try this special dish.
How Yang Rou Pau Mo is served. The custom is both unique and interesting. When you order the meal you will be given a large bowl and a quantity of round, flat unleavened bread (nan bread). The amount of bread depends entirely upon the size of your appetite! You have to break the bread into small pieces so that it can absorb the flavor of the liquid. Be warned, the bread is hard and it will prove something of a test of strength for your fingers but the smaller you break the pieces, the better the result. Once you have prepared your bread, you pass your bowl to the chef who will stir it into a pot of hot mutton soup. After some five to ten minutes he will ladle the soup and bread back into your bowl with a quantity of mutton.
Adding chili paste, caraway and a specially salted sweet garlic enhances the dish. These together act to reduce the greasiness so often associated with mutton.
Yang Rou Pao Mo might not sound as though it could become a favorite with you but if you are seeking to experience something of the local food of the people of western China, this is well worth a try. If you want to taste it at its best, remember to come to Xi'an.