How to Cook Genghis Khan

A campfire with the king

By Bonson Lam    - 3 min read

The people of Hokkaido have a lifetime of experience in turning things over to “cook” them, whether it is wet gloves over a heater from a snow storm, or lamb over a hot grill.

It is all part of the joys of communal cooking here, the constant turning, waiting, turning, thinking, is your meal cooked yet, or should I just take the plunge and eat it. It is easy to take the food off too early or not turning it enough, to ensure that every side is grilled to perfection.

When you cook Genghis Khan, it is said that you should put all the ingredients on at once but gambling your dinner on an incompetent amateur mean you can’t keep an eye on everything, and risk burning any one of the nine items you just put on. The mushroom should be slightly caramelised, but still retaining the juices. You want to slightly char the capsicum, but not too much.

Maybe I should have titled this article, "How to cook like Genghis Khan", for no-one in their right mind would want to cook Genghis Khan, the legendary warrior to millions of people through the ages. It would be sacrilegious. How to cook like Genghis Khan, on the other hand, evokes patience, strategy and perseverance, all of which makes sense snuggling up to the cooker on a snowy winter's night.

The idea is to first place the vegetables at bottom of the domed skillet, and the meat on top. The fat dripping from the meat will marinate the vegetables. While most people order lamb for their Genghis Khan experience, others can take the plunge and initiate themselves with venison or wagyu beef. If you want to try mouth-watering slivers of beef tongue, then make sure you add some salt and pepper, and serve it with a squeeze of lemon juice. On the other hand, the dipping sauce with chilli notes, soy and sesame adds complexity to the vegetables and lamb.

Cooking your own dinner can be a fun experience for two people but sharing one skillet amongst four adults may test your mettle. The metal skillet does look like a soldier’s helmet hat, but the heat all goes to the middle, making it hard to cook the vegetables for the impatient.

While Hokkaido is famous for Genghis Khan, what has this got to do with the Mongolian warrior? It was thought that Mongolian soldiers would cook food on their dome-shaped metal helmets.

On the other hand, is this really Japanese food? Indeed, what is Japanese food? Ezo deer is native to Hokkaido while sheep was introduced much later. Perhaps the only similarity with Mongolia is climate, for it tastes nothing like Mongolian lamb, or at least the variety you get in Chinese restaurants. So, you may ask yourself, is it really Japanese or Mongolian, or even Chinese? Or a fusion of all three. Perhaps, it is really a way of cooking, rather than the ingredients itself, that defines “Genghis Khan”. In the same way the Japan has redefined Christmas or Halloween traditions and cuisines.

An outdoor campfire may be a good idea in the steppes in summer, but not in a snow storm in winter, whether in Mongolia or Hokkaido. So, snuggle up inside and bring a smile to your face with the sizzle of meat fat rendering on the skillet with your significant other.

Getting there

The Genghis Khan restaurant is located at Hoshino Resort. There is a complementary shuttle bus from Tomamu station to the resort, which is 90 minutes from Chitose Airport.

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Bonson Lam

Bonson Lam @bonson.lam

I knew my future was destined to be with Japan the moment I flew from Sydney to experience the atmospheric lane ways of Kyoto last century. From the skies above Sapporo to the old charm of Naha's alleyways, I have been enchanted by the beauty and variety on every island. I am humbled to have met many distinguished people in my role as Regional Partner, especially the national living treasures of Japan, such as the doll maker to the Imperial Family. From sushi cooking classes to Ninja training grounds I welcome your ideas on what you like from JapanTravel.com. Please visit us in Kyoto or Osaka and have some green tea or sake with us. 

Join the discussion

Elena Lisina 4 weeks ago
Sounds quite challenging!
Bonson Lam Author 3 weeks ago
Yes it is, but part of the fun (like playing Jenga). It reminds me of cooking on a charcoal barbeque, actually. Not as hard, but communal cooking has its pleasures.
Sander van Werkhoven a month ago
One of my great memories of my first visit to Sapporo: eating Jingisukan for the first time in a tiny restaurant in Susukino with just 12 counter seats. The air filled with smoke and grease. The other customers loud, more than a bit drunk, but very enjoyable. The menu simple: either a big portion of lamb, a huge portion of lamb or a ginormous portion of lamb. O, and a small portion of lamb, but only for vegetarians. Endless vegetables. Kimchi and makgeolli as perfect companions....

The only downside: even after washing my clothes several times they still smelled like jingisukan....
Bonson Lam Author 4 weeks ago
Me too! Do you like lamb Elena? Or do you prefer beef or venison (deer)?
Lynda Hogan a month ago
I had never heard of Genghis Khan (the dish) until today! The warrior I do know! Very interesting to hear about regional food.
Bonson Lam Author a month ago
Wow that is great. I hope you get to try it one day. Who would have thought that the Japanese had a liking for lamb.
Kim a month ago
Super useful to know the technique! I learn something new every day on here!
Bonson Lam Author a month ago
Definitely, that's the great thing about JapanTravel. I learn lots from you too!