Norin is a very popular dish in Uzbekistan. Norin is a combination of thinly-sliced home-made noodles, aged meat (previously marinated and dried) and herbs. Of all regions in Uzbekistan, Norin is widely available in Tashkent, the capital of the country. While my parents were visiting us here, I asked them to help me out to create a step-by-step recipe of this traditional dish. They conveniently agreed and I snapped many, many pictures of the process. I love Norin, in fact, a lot of Uzbeks do :)
I have to beg your pardon, since I couldn’t take pictures of the process of marinating and aging the meat. Somehow I missed that part. But I promise I will explain everything in smallest details.
Ingredients for aging the meat:
- 2 lbs combination of lean beef and fatty lamb (preferably breast and foreshank)
- lots of salt
- lots of whole cumin slightly crushed
- little black pepper
Ingredients for the dough:
- 3 eggs
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 1 cup of warm water
- 3 cups of all purpose flour
- 1 cup purified cottonseed oil or sunflower seed (not to be used in the dough)
Water for cooking the dough:
- 2 L of water
- 1 L of meat stock (read the end of the meat preparation)
- 3 Tbsp of salt
Directions for aging the meat:
Norin is mainly made in winter. The reason behind, is to air-dry the meat outside, in lower temperatures. This way, the desired amount of aging can be obtained within 2-3 days. You can always keep the meat in the refrigerator. However, it will still remain moist. You will still have to hang the meat outside, at least for some time to get rid of the moisture. This way though, it will take twice as long to obtain desired result.
Choose leaner beef and a little fatty lamb. Usually, the breast and the foreshank of the lamb contains enough fat for Norin. Once you have purchased the meat, prepare it for the marination process. Cut the meat in a thicker slingshot shape. If there is a way to cut the foreshanks in half, without totally cutting through it, do that. You need to create slingshot-type cuts to make it easy to hang the meat on a string/rod.
Using a lot of salt and cumin, rub the meat all around. Don’t be shy of salt! Do not worry. You are not going to be eating all that salt. Approximately 4 Tbsp on 8 oz. meat should be sufficient. Lightly coat the meat with black pepper. Let the meat sit in the refrigerator for a couple of hours before hanging outside.
Once time is up, take the meat out to your porch, yard, balcony (I hope you live somewhere higher). As if you are getting ready to hang laundry outside, stretch a rod or a string, either nailing or tightening both sides on something sturdy. Hang the meat and let it hang there for 48 hours total, which should be enough time for the meat to get ready. If it gets too warm during the day, it is best to keep it in the refrigerator and take it out at night. In that case, more time might be needed for the meat to get aged and dried out.
After 48 hours, take the meat down and place it in a large pot. Pour water enough to cover the meat and bring it to boil. Note: Keep the same amount of clean water handy in a bowl/container.
When the water starts boiling, pour it out to get rid of the excess salt and foaming. Pour the clean water that you were keeping in the blow/container over the meat and cook the meat for 2 hours. No longer than that! Cool the meat completely before using it.
I chose not to get rid of the meat bullion. I partially use it for cooking the dough and I also keep it as a soup for Norin.
Making the dough:
Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Mix liquid ingredients in another. Pour the liquid mixture over the dry mixture and knead into a nice, smooth dough. If you need more flour, add some more. If you need a little more warm water, do so. The important part is, to have a soft enough (not too soft, e.g. picture) dough to work with. It has to be kneaded well. Cover the dough with a damp cloth and let it rest for 10 minutes:
When time is up, take the dough out, cut it in two and flatten the dough with your fingers and knuckles. Again, cover each dough with a plastic wrap and let it stand for another 10-15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large pot, boil 2 liters of water, 1 liter of meat bullion and 3 Tbsp of salt. Once the water boils, keep the heat on medium-low until the dough is ready to be cooked.
If you prepared the meat beforehand, you can cut it before working on the dough. If you did not have time to do so and have a helping hand around you, ask them to help you with cutting the meat. Generally, it is a good practice to have the meat readily cut, before starting to work on the dough. Since my dad always helps in the kitchen (may I add that he is an excellent cook) we asked him to help us with cutting the meat. The meat and the forshank (a.k.a fatty meat) should be very thinly julienned as shown in the pictures below.
Once the dough is well-rested, get ready to roll it. Use the flour as needed to prevent the dough from sticking. I took detailed pictures of the process. I do not think there is much need for an explanation here.
Once you reached the desired thinness (2 mm), fold the dough as shown in the pictures. We need to cut approximately 10×10 inch squares (or something similar). To achieve that, cut folded dough horizontally, measuring 10″ (or the distance between your pinkie and big finger).
Now you have ribbon-like cuts, which you will stack one on top of another (as shown in the pictures). Again, make 10 inch cuts. Repeat the same process with the second half of the dough.
Turn up the heat under the pot of water. Make sure the water is boiling. Take one-third of the dough and start dropping the dough sheets in the water one by one. Mix it once or twice and let the dough cook for 3 minutes.
When time is up, take out the cooked dough from the water. Drop the dough on a clean surface and one by one open them up, putting them side by side. To prevent your fingers from burning, having a jar with a water is recommended. Dip your fingers in the water and lay the dough where you need it.
Since the process is done to cool and dry the cooked dough, try to wipe the surroundings of it with a paper towel, to get rid of the excess water. Let the dough stand there for 15 minutes.
Once nicely dry, start to gather the dough on a big plate, rubbing each level with a generous amount of cottonseed oil (approx. 2 Tbsp). This way, it will be much easier to cut the dough. Also, the layers will not stick/merge.
Continue with the remainder of the dough. Once every bit of the dough is gathered in one plate, let it rest for at least 30 minutes.
When 30 minutes are up, grab 3 layers of the dough at a time, fold the layers in two and make 2 inches-wide vertical cuts.
Julienne the dough very thinly with a nicely-sharpened knife.
Once all of the dough is cut, add a little black pepper and slightly toss the dough.
Sprinkle the meat on top of the dough and toss everything together one more time, until ingredients are well-mixed.
Enjoy Norin dry or with a bullion under the meat. Jullienne raw onions, mix in black pepper and serve along with Norin.