Buuz is a Mongolian steamed dumpling. It is usually filled with minced mutton, though beef is also a common ingredient. Some recipes also include rice, potato, or cabbage. Typical seasonings include sprouted fennel seeds, garlic, onion, and salt. Buuz is traditionally eaten to celebrate the Mongolian New Year, which is known as Tsagaan Sar.
Preparation of the filling is the first step in making buuz. First, the meat is minced and mixed with garlic and onion. Then water is added to the mixture until it is smooth and easy to manipulate. The final step is to add the spices, which can include several different kinds of herbs in addition to the traditional salt and fennel seed.
Buuz dough is made of flour and water. The ingredients are mixed together until they form a workable dough, and then left to sit for several minutes. Then the dough is rolled into wide slices, which are cut into the pieces that will form the exterior of each dumpling. These are flattened in preparation for the filling.
Assembling the dumplings is the most challenging aspect of preparing buuz. The skill with which they are made can be a matter of great pride among Mongolians. An experienced cook will be able to prepare several dumplings quickly and with little thought.
The pieces of dough are first rolled into circles. The edges are made thinner than the center, so that they are strong enough to hold the filling, but easier to press together at the edges. Once the dough is rolled, the dumplings should be made as quickly as possible, as the dough will be more difficult to work with when it begins to dry.
Buuz dumplings are usually formed in one of three traditional shapes: round, folded, or semicircle. Round dumplings are the most popular; they are made by pinching a small series of folds in a circle around the filling and then twisted at the top. The fold method is easier, as it requires only four pinches along the edges to form the dumpling. Semicircular dumplings are less popular, but also can be made more quickly, as they require only one fold and a series of pinches along the open edges. In all cases, a hole is left open in the dumpling in order to allow maximum efficiency during steaming.
A similar type of Mongolian dumpling is khuushuur. The primary difference between the two is that khuushuur is fried. Buuz also have an opening at the top, rather than being pressed closed. Similar equivalents in other countries include the Polish pierogi, the Tibetan and Nepalese momo and the Chinese gyoza.