Text Susan Jung / Photography Jonathan Wong / Styling Nellie Ming Lee
I cook a lot of lamb because it's a meat that lends itself to a wide variety of preparations and seasonings. It has a fairly strong flavour on its own and a good amount of fat, so it doesn't dry out as quickly as leaner meats such as chicken or turkey.
Herbed minced lamb kebabs with mint raita (pictured)
These kebabs can be cooked on the barbecue, in a grill pan on the stove or under a gas grill (broiler).
850 grams minced lamb
50 grams pine nuts
45 grams couscous
1½ tsp whole cumin seeds
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
2-3 shallots, minced
1¼ tsp paprika
1¼ tsp chilli flakes
10 grams fresh mint, finely chopped
25 grams fresh parsley, finely chopped
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the raita and accompaniments:
200 grams whole-milk yogurt, preferably Greek-style
A handful of fresh mint leaves
2 garlic cloves, minced
The seeds of ¼ of a pomegranate
Cooking oil, as needed
1 Persian or Japanese cucumber
15 oval or pear-shaped tomatoes
10ml extra-virgin olive oil
Put the pine nuts in an unoiled skillet and place it over a low-medium flame. Heat the pine nuts, stirring almost constantly, until they are fragrant and lightly toasted. Cool and roughly chop them. Put the cumin seeds in the unoiled skillet (no need to wash it) and place it over a medium flame. Stir constantly until the seeds are fragrant and lightly toasted. Leave them to cool completely, then grind them in a spice grinder.
Pour the couscous into a small bowl and add 70ml of boiling water. Stir with a fork, then tightly cover the bowl with cling-film and leave for 10 minutes. Fluff up the grains with the fork.
Mix the lamb with the pine nuts, couscous, ground cumin, garlic, shallot, paprika, chilli flakes, mint, parsley and egg. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Fry a little of the meat mixture in the skillet and taste to see if the seasonings are right; correct, if necessary. Cover the mixture with cling-film and refrigerate for several hours.
Mix the yogurt with the mint leaves and garlic, then put into a serving dish. Peel and dice the cucumber. Dice the tomatoes and chop the shallots. Mix the cucumber with the tomato and shallot, season lightly with salt, then stir in the extra-virgin olive oil. Put the ingredients in a serving dish.
Shape the lamb mixture into long, slightly flattened ovals and thread them onto metal skewers. Cook the kebabs on a lightly oiled barbecue, grill pan, or under a gas grill, turning them as needed until done to your liking and charred in spots. Stack the skewers on a serving platter. Heat the pita bread on a lightly oiled barbecue or grill pan. Sprinkle the pomegranate seeds over the raita. Have your guests remove the meat from the skewers and eat it with the pita bread, adding the raita and cucumber/tomato mixture as needed.
Stir-fried lamb and spring onions
For this dish, use the large variety of spring onion called dai chong in Cantonese. It's easy enough to find in wet markets; in supermarkets it's often called by its Japanese name, negi. It looks very much like a European leek, although dai chong is not quite as large. If you can't find it, use eight regular spring onions.
This dish is delicious when stuffed into shao bing (sesame seed pockets), but it's also good served with steamed white rice or boiled egg noodles.
400 grams boneless lamb, cut into thin, bite-sized pieces
30ml soy sauce
30ml rice wine
Cooking oil, as needed
¼ tsp fine sea salt
½ tsp sugar
2 tsp cornstarch
¼ tsp finely ground white pepper
2 garlic cloves, sliced
2 thin ginger slices, peeled
4 dai chong
2 large red chillies
5ml sesame oil
Put the lamb into a bowl, add the soy sauce, rice wine, 10ml of cooking oil, salt, sugar, cornstarch and white pepper. Combine thoroughly and leave to marinate for about 30 minutes.
Halve the garlic cloves. Cut the chillies in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Cut each half on the diagonal into 1cm pieces. Trim off and discard the stem end and the dark green leaves from the dai chong, using only the white and pale green fleshy part of the vegetable. Cut them in half lengthwise, then cut each half into 3cm pieces.
Heat a wok over a high flame then add about 30ml of cooking oil. When the oil is very hot, add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry for about 15 seconds. Add the dai chong and chilli and stir-fry over a high flame until the spring onion starts to wilt. Add the lamb and stir-fry until the meat loses its pink colour. Add about 50ml of hot water to the wok and stir-fry until the meat is cooked through and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Taste for seasonings and correct, if needed. Stir in the sesame oil and serve immediately.