07.20.2012

Cooking with a Local Tibetan Chef in Pentoc Restaurant – Lhasa, Tibet

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Pentoc41 The Chubby Orangutan
Rating
Four Forks

My Tibet travel mates, K&K went to the Pentoc Restaurant in Lhasa because it was mentioned in the Lonely Planet guidebook. They must have really liked it because they took me and a few others back there the night after. Now that I think about it, I went there at least 2 more times afterwards!

Since this restaurant is in the guidebook, the prices are set for tourists at about 50 to 80RMB per person. The menu there is simple just like most other restaurants we went to in Lhasa, the dishes revolve around rice and noodle dishes with vegetables or yak. We ordered the lentil soup and fried noodles with Yak, they tasted like comfort homemade food to me. Maybe that’s why we kept going back there.

Like many Tibetans we came across, they are very genuine and warm people. The owner of Pentoc who we called Ms. Pentoc, was cooking at a bigger and popular restaurant in Lhasa before she started her own restaurant business. In the past Tibetan women are rarely career driven. They grow up to be hardworking wives who work in the farms, who take care of livestock, who maintain their households, who raise children while looking after their husbands. Although this is still the case for many Tibetan women, Ms. Pentoc definitely represents a changing pattern in women’s position in the Tibetan society, especially in urban area like Lhasa.

As we enjoyed the food at Pentoc, we thought why not learn to cook them ourselves? Ms. Pentoc being so kind agreed to show us at no extra charge. But of course we couldn’t accept that and we gave her a reasonable tip in the end.

The two dishes we made are our favorite dishes at Pentoc: the lentil soup and the fried noodles with Yak.

The kitchen of Pentoc Restaurant – it was an old but clean kitchen. Also thanks to the high altitude of the Tibetan plateau, you will not find a lot of bugs and insects in Tibet.


First dish in the making: The Lentil Soup
1. Pre-heat wok for half a minute, add Yak butter, then add Nepali lentils (reddish color)

2. Stir-fry lentils until it turns yellow

3. Transfer lentils into a high pressure cooker

4. Add water then cook for about 10 mintues

5. Add oil, then stir-fry the green peas ( boiled for about 2 minutes), diced carrots and lettuce stem with some chicken stock.

6. Add boiled lentils from the high pressure cooker and soy sauce (to taste) to the wok, then stir it for about a minute

7. And we are done!

Second dish: Fried Yak Noodles
1. Julienne cut the zucchini.

2. Cut the lettuce to appropriate size and julienne cut the carrots as well.

3. Cut and slice tomatoes, onions and green scallions as shown below. (ignore the diced vegetables, those were for the lentil soup)

4. Pre-heat wok, add oil, then add the onion first and cook until onions begin to sweat. After add the lettuce, zucchini and carrots to the wok.

5. Add salt, Sichuan pepper powder, chicken stock powder, toss for a minute then add homemade sauce (a mixture of water, grounded ginger and garlic)

6. Add Tibetan noodles (these noodles are made fresh by a nearby noodle shop and it’s already boiled. You can easily find other types of noodles to replace it)

7. Add tomatoes, green scallions, and the pre-cut Yak meat (here you can replace the Yak meat with your preference of meat)

8. Add soy sauce then mix all the ingredients for about 1.5 to 2 minutes

9. And voila we are done! Time to eat!

Pentoc Restaurant: East Beijing Road, Tsomenling 114-28-05961, Lhasa

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