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Also called yangrou paomo, paomo is a type of mutton soup that is paired with flat bread. Famous in Xi'an in northern China, this soup can be found in both local restaurants and many larger chains in the region. Paomo is an inexpensive, yet thick and meaty dish of Arab influence.
Either lamb or mutton, meat from fully grown sheep, is used in paomo. The meat is washed before it is cooked. Then it is often braised. Braising meat involves first briefly frying before including it in a soup or stew where it finishes cooking. Mutton or lamb bones are usually included in the soup while it cooks, but beef bones might be included instead.
Garlic, onions or shallots, and ginger are always used in this soup, as are thin glass or wheat noodles. Cumin, cilantro, hot peppers, and green onions are also sometimes included. Salt and pepper are generally added to taste. Pickled cloves of garlic, hot pepper paste, or cilantro is often used for garnish.
Bread is also an important part of paomo. Similar to pita bread, the flat bread used for paomo is a simple bread, made mostly of flour, salt, and water. It is usually steamed and is rather crisp and dry.
To make paomo, the bones, meat, and most of the seasonings are placed into a pot with water. The soup is then heated and left to simmer for up to four hours. The bones, as well as the herbs and vegetables, are discarded when the soup is done so that only the meat and the broth remain.
To remove the seasonings, the broth can either be strained or can be bundled in a muslin cloth before being placed in the soup. Bundling the seasonings makes it simple to pluck them out when the soup is complete. The salt, pepper, and cumin, if it is used, are added to the completed broth.
To serve, the bread is crumbled into small pieces and placed in a bowl. In restaurants, the diners are usually given a whole piece of bread and allowed to crumble it themselves. Bread pieces should be very small, only pea sized, because they will absorb the broth and expand considerably. After the bread is crumbled, the broth is poured into the bowl along with the lamb or mutton pieces. Pickled garlic is the most common topping for this soup and may be combined with hot pepper sauce or cilantro.
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