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Head's up for Year of the Goat

By Su Zhou and Guo Shaoyu | China Daily | Updated: 2015-06-05 07:19

Head's up for Year of the Goat

A well-cooked goat head is cut into pieces before being served. Photo provided to China Daily

The boiled goat head is not as popular in Yinchuan as more local specialties such as hand-grabbed lamb. Ma says that back in his hometown of Guyuan city, where more Hui people live, a meal of goat head is more common.

Ma moved from Guyuan to Yinchuan in 1996. His restaurant now serves many specialties of the Hui people and has even attracted some foreigners, including a surprised visitor from an Arab country.

"He knew how to eat it, just like us," says Ma.

Martin Morck, a frequent visitor to China from Norway, was in Ningxia last year and was also excited to be offered a goat head-a sheep head served whole is common in some parts of Scandinavia-by his hosts on a business trip.

"We were each served a generous big plate of goat head and beer. It's very fat and delicious, especially the chin and lips," he tells China Daily.

"You take both sides of the upper jaw and break the skull in two, so you have access to the brain. Yummy!

"Eaten with a lot of fresh, low-alcohol Chinese beer, it is a sensation," he adds.

Ma adds that he once worked for a hotel in Guyuan, which hosted many high-ranking officials including the late State leader Zhao Ziyang. "Among many local special dishes, we also prepared goat head for those guests."

To cook such a dish is not so easy. Ma says he only selects goats raised in Ningxia that are around 40 to 60 days old. The best weight is around 8 to 10 kilograms, he says.

"The best time to eat goat is from the start of October to the next year's Tomb-Sweeping Day holiday," adds Ma. "In this period, goats only eat dry grass instead of green grass. A goat eating dry grass has the best meat, tender with no smell."

The goats are killed in the special Islamic or halal way, with no blood left within the bodies. Then the skin and the meat are separated with a knife and by blowing air into the goat's body "just like a balloon". Unlike in the southern part of China, he says, people in Ningxia don't eat lamb with skin.

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