12:00 AM EST
Crispy Lamb with Cumin, Scallions and Red Chilies
The New York Times ran a piece on Dongbei cai, or the food of Northeast China and after lunch at Northeast Taste in Flushing, Queens (rumors are true: it closed in July) with my friend Scott, I became obsessed with recreating the flavors at home… an unexpected collaboration of Indian and Sichuan spices. This dish also typifies my kind of comfort food: hot, too spicy for most and perhaps a bit unsophisticated. The following recipe is based on one provided by the Times which in turn is adapted from Northeast Taste. You can easily substitute chicken or pork for lamb but, heck, live a little and try the lamb. Oh – and do plan on marinating the meat for at least an hour.
• 1 tablespoon egg white
• 1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine
• 2 teaspoons cornstarch
• 1 teaspoon salt, more to taste
• 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
• 1 lb boneless leg of lamb or lamb shoulder, cut into strips about 1/2 inch by 2 inches
• 3 tablespoons peanut oil
• 2 tablespoons cumin seeds, lightly cracked in a mortar or grinder
• 2 tablespoons whole dried red chili peppers, about 2 inches long
• 1-2 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns, freshly ground
• 4 scallions, white and green parts only, cut on diagonal into 1-inch lengths
• Sesame oil, for seasoning
In a bowl combine egg white, wine, cornstarch, salt and pepper. Add lamb and set aside to marinate for about an hour; Ok, so I will probably be hunted down by the USDA but if you’re just marinating it for an hour I wouldn’t refrigerate it…I have this thing about cooking meat that is cold.
Anyways…once the meat is nice and marinated heat a large skillet or wok over high heat until a drop of water sizzles on contact. Swirl half the oil into wok and carefully add lamb, spreading it in a single layer. Let sear a moment, then stir-fry briskly just until meat is no longer pink. Transfer to a plate layered with paper towel to collect excess oil. You may need to do this in batches, wiping down the skillet and adding extra oil in between.
Swirl remaining 1½ tablespoons oil into empty skillet, add cumin seeds and chilies and stir-fry a few seconds until cumin seeds start to pop. Press chilies against sides of wok to char their skins. Add scallions and, if available, Sichuan peppercorns and stir-fry 1 minute. Careful: the resulting cooking fumes will be potent! Now return lamb to your skillet and stir-fry 1 to 2 minutes more until lamb is cooked through. Turn off heat, sprinkle with salt and drops of sesame oil.
- 500sandwiches posted this