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Lamb Revisited

by Jacqueline M. Newman


Winter Volume: 2016 Issue: 23(4) page(s): 30 - 33

Many requests cross our desk asking why there so few lamb recipes in Chinese cuisine? When a few do appear in this one, they get many positive comments and requests for still others. Known as Ovis aries, this meat is called yang rou in Chinese. Mentioned in the Turducken article when Michael Gray took a group of Chinese food devotees to Uncle Zhou’s restaurant in Queens, than brought many more comments and requests for more lamb recipes. Some can be found in the article index listings, many more follow this article. On that earlier excursion, poultry without feathers or innards came stuffed, one in another, and then in another. In earlier times these many stuffings would be in a lamb carcass.

In those earlier times, this multi-filled food was housed in a lamb but it is not eaten though all poultry in later multi-animal stuffing dishes are. The idea of one food inside another may have been done first by the French, though the Chinese say they did it first. In ancient China, a goose was stuffed inside a lamb; it is called 'Whole Lamb Mohu.' We have never found a recipe for this and should you, please tell us your source. One person said he did learn it from literature, and that the Huns did make a dish like this. We never found that recipe either; and should you, again we ask you please tell us where.

One major difference from the early Chinese one is that the lamb is on the exterior and never consumed; it is just a holding container for the goose or geese within. One elder Chinese chap told us it is used as a popular feast food, popularly during the Tang Dynasty. Served among more than fifty dish at a single meal. He says he thinks it is first recorded in the Shi Ou which translates to the Book of Recipes. We do not know of anyone who says they saw it; but if and when you do, please advise.

Incidentally, that chap said he thinks that dish or meal may have been called the ‘tail-burn feast’ including six dishes made with meats, lamb just one of them. He says the others may have been bear, beef, chicken, duck, goose, quail, rabbit, raccoon, and/or venison.

We appreciate his thoughts and were very saddened when he passed away before we got to speak to him again and learn more. To date no one else seems to know more than he did; so once again we appeal to our readers for any news they may have.

There are early books discussing Lamb Hot Pot once called 'Rinsed Lamb.' In ancient China, lamb and goat were popular in soups and other dishes, and we have not seen a single early lamb recipe. We do believe they were called hai dishes, lamb used in several meat sauces as was ox. We know that lamb and goat were used in rituals and sacrificial dishes; but our knowledge about lamb ends there. We never saw a recipe for any early lamb recipe.

Lamb is popular today in Mongolian Barbecue and Mongolian Hot Pot restaurants. One such place called 'Little Sheep' was reviewed in this magazine. It is one of many in a chain of restaurants and can be found in our restaurant review index or in Volume 21(1) on that issue’s page 22. That chain has places in many locations, New York to California, also in Hawaii, and in several cities in Canada.

In Shanjia Gongqing, translated as "Simple Offerings of a Mountain Hermit,' its Ming Dynasty writer is Lin Hong. He lived at the end of the 13th century, and loathed meats. Yet he is given credit as the first to write about a dish reminiscent of Peking Lamb Hot Pot. Maybe he had an aversion to pork and beef but ate lamb, rabbit, and other meats.

There is much interesting lore about lamb and other animals. We once ate lamb grilled; that was in in Tibet, and did have lamb simmered in water in Qinghai. It said lamb on the menu but could have been yak substituted for lamb. We also had lamb Chinese style with potatoes, eggplant, and tomatoes, and lamb with its fat and eggs made into in meatballs. We have had lamb in sausages, ground lamb mixed with garlic, scallions, coriander, ginger, salt, pepper, and eggs, too. Our lamb folder is lean, but we share its contents including shoulder of lamb mixed with black rice vinegar, no amounts just with soy sauce, chili paste, onions, and star anise.

Here are the few recipes one can cook with, amounts included. We hope you enjoy them and will share those in your folders. We love lamb and wish we had more of them for you.
Lamb Soup
3 pounds lamb bones and meat scraps
10 longan, each cut in half, their pits discarded
10 Chinese red dates, each cut in half, their pits discarded
4 slices fresh ginger, peeled and smashed
salt and pepper, to taste
1 Tablespoon goji berries
3 scallions, each tied in a knot
½ to 1 teaspoon siracha sauce
1. Rinse lamb in boiling water, discarding the water.
2. Simmer lamb in three quarts of boiling water for three hours, then remove and discard the lamb bones, and before one does, cutting off the meat in small pieces and putting them back into the lamb stock.
3. Next, add the longan, dates, ginger, salt and pepper, and simmer ten minutes before adding the goji berries and scallions; then simmer ten more minutes. Then discard the scallion knots, and add the Siracha sauce and stir for two or three minutes,. Then serve the soup in individual bowls.
Cumin Lamb
1 Tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 Tablespoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 whole dried broken up chili pepper, seeds discarded
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 pound boneless lamb, half sliced, half coarsely chopped
3 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 Tablespoons dark and thin/light soy sauce
3 Tablespoons Chinese rice wine
3 scallions, coarsely chopped
10 sprigs fresh cilantro, rinsed, drained, then coarsely chopped
1. He a wok or fry pan, add the peppercorns, peppers, cumin seeds, salt, and chili pepper pieces and dry-fry them for one to two minutes, do not burn them.
2. Toss the meat with these seasonings, and set it aside.
3. Heat the wok or fry pan, add the oil, then the onions and stir-fry for two to three minutes, then remove them to a bowl or plate.
4. Now add the chopped lamb and stir-fry for two minutes, then the sliced lamb, garlic, soy sauces, rice wine, and the scallions, and simmer for one minute then return the onions to the wok or fry pan, fold in the cilantro, and serve.
Lamb Chops and Black Pepper Sauce
½ pound or 6 thinly sliced lamb chops
1 scallion, sliced thinly at an angle
2 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and smashed
1 red chili pepper, seeded and slivered
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 Tablespoons chicken broth
2 Tablespoons Shao Xing wine
dash ground white pepper
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
! Tablespoon vegetable oil
1. Mix lamb chops with the scallion pieces, smashed garlic, chili pepper pieces, sugar soy sauce, cornstarch, broth, wine, pepper, and sesame oil and set this aside for half an hour.
2. Heat a wok or fry pan, add the vegetable oil, and after the meat has rested and fully drained on a wire surface for about five minutes, fry them in the hot oil two minutes per side, then add the drained liquid, and boil them one minute more per side, then serve.
Lamb and Scallions
3/4 pound boneless lamb loin, thinly sliced, each slice cut into one-inch cubes
3 scallions, cut into two inch pieces
1 egg white
2 Tablespoons dark soy sauce
2 Tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
2 Tablespoons Chinese rice wine
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large cloves fresh garlic, slivered
3 slices fresh ginger, slivered
2 Tablespoons sesame oil
½ cup coarsely chopped coriander
3 Tablespoons chicken broth
1. Mix lamb slices with scallions, soy and hoisin sauces, cornstarch and rice wine. Let this rest half an hour, then stir it once or twice.
2. Next, heat wok or fry pan, add oil then the garlic and ginger and in one minute, after mixing the meat and the egg white, add the lamb mixed with the soy sauce and cornstarch, and stir-fry for two minutes. Now add the garlic and the ginger, then the sesame oil and coriander and stir-fry one minute. Now add the broth and stir well, and it will thicken. Put this into a pre-heated bowl, and serve.
Lamb with Vegetables
1 pound boneless lamb leg or loin
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 eggplant, about half pound, cut into one-inch cubes
2 large celery ribs, cut into half-inch angle-cut slices
3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1 cup soaked shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and discarded, cut into half-inch cubes
10 large button mushrooms, cut into half-inch cubes
1 cup vegetable oil
1 bunch watercress, cut into one-inch sections
1. Mix lamb, scallion, egg white, soy sauce, cornstarch, and the rice wine and set aside for half an hour. Next drain and set this liquid aside.
2. Mix eggplant, celery, garlic, and all mushrooms and set these aside separately.
3. Heat a wok or large pan add the oil, then fry the lamb for one minute, and remove to a strainer.
2. Next, add the vegetables and fry them for two minutes until browned, then return the lamb to the wok or pot, add the watercress and stir-fry for one minute, add two tablespoons of the liquid, stir-fry one more minute, then put the meat and vegetables into a pre-heated dish or bowl, and serve.
Tibetan Lamb
1 pound boneless leg of lamb, sliced thinly
1 leek, rinsed and cut in half the long way, then cut into two-inch pieces
1 chili pepper seeded and cut into small cubes
1 Tablespoon fermented black beans, mashed
2 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and chopped
3 slices fresh ginger, minced
1 Tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 Tablespoon oyster sauce
2 Tablespoons water chestnut flour
½ teaspoon each salt, ground pepper, and granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon bouillon powder
2 Tablespoons sesame oil
2 Tablespoons Chinese rice wine
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
6 sprigs fresh coriander, cut into half-inch pieces
1. Mix lamb, leek, chili pepper, black beans, garlic, ginger, soy and oyster sauces, and the water chestnut flour, salt, pepper, sugar, bouillon powder, sesame oil, and rice wine and let rest for one hour in the refrigerator or another cold place.
2. Heat a wok or pan, add the vegetable oil, then the lamb mixture and stir-fry for two minutes. Next, add the coriander and stir for another minute, then put everything into a pre-heated serving bowl or on platter and serve hot.
Lamb Hunan I
1 pound lamb loin sliced in half-inch slices or use lamb ribs
5 Tablespoons hoisin sauce
3 Tablespoons plum wine
6 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and cut into quarters
5 slices fresh ginger, each one smashed
½ teaspoon chili pepper flakes
1 cup dry-roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
1 cup beef broth
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
1. Heat lamb in a 450 degree F oven on a metal plate for seven minutes, Remove and mix with the hoisin sauce, plum wine, garlic, ginger, and chili pepper flakes and put this into a preheated wok or a deep pan.
2. Then, stir-fry it for one minute, add the peanuts and broth, and bring this to the boil. Add the cornstarch mixed with a like amount of cold water and stir until thickened; then serve.
Lamb Hunan II
½ pound lamb sirloin, cut against the grain into one-quarter-inch slices, each then cut in four
1 egg white
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
½ teaspoon coarse salt
2 Tablespoons dry sherry or Chinese rice wine
2 Tablespoons thin soy sauce
1 Tablespoons Chinese black vinegar
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 large cloves fresh garlic, chopped
2 Tablespoons chicken stock
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
3 dried hot peppers, seeded and cut into strips
2 scallions, white parts, only, sliced at an angle
1. Mix meat, egg white, cornstarch, and the salt. Then toss the meat mixture with the wine, soy sauce and the vinegar, the garlic and the chicken stock and set this aside.
2. Heat a wok or fry pan then add vegetable oil and when hot, add the meat mixture and stir-fry for half a minute before adding the hot chili peppers and scallions. Stir-fry for one more minute, then serve on a pre-heated platter.
Beijing Lamb Hot Pot
2 pounds boneless lamb loin, sliced thin
½ pound Chinese celery cabbage, cut into half-inch slices
4 ounces mung beans, soaked in tepid water until soft, then cut into four-inch lengths
6 dried shrimp, soaked until soft, then coarsely chopped 4 Chinese black mushrooms, soaked, stems removed and discarded, each cut in slices
5 cups chicken stock
dips of ones choice such as: light soy sauce, chili oil, shrimp sauce, minced scallions, minced coriander leaves, etc. and a raw egg for each person
1. Put lamb, celery cabbage, and soaked mung beans out on a platter.
2. Put shrimp and Chinese mushroom pieces and stock in a hot pot and bring to the boil.
3. Give each diner a long-handled fork, a Chinese soup bowl, a wire mesh strainer, and chop sticks. Put the desired dips in small bowls table-side so each diner can put what they want into their own soup bowl with stock, if desired and then simmer a slice of meat and some vegetables. Each can dip this in their bowl, and eat as desired, meat first, then vegetables, with or without their vermicelli. The raw egg cn be added at the end, if desired.
Lamb Meatballs
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, half crushed
1 teaspoon caraway seeds, half crushed
½ teaspoon coriander seeds, half crushed
1 chili pepper, seeded and slivered
1 potato peeled, diced, and boiled for seven minutes
1 pound ground lamb
1 scallion, minced
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 Tablespoon peeled minced fresh ginger
2 Tablespoons sesame oil
1. Dry-fry the seeds stirring for two minutes, then add the chili pepper and fry for another minute. Now remove from the heat and cool.
2. Mix this with the ground lamb and the potatoes and make this into two-inch balls.
3. Heat a wok or fry pan, add the sesame oil and when medium hot,, brown for about six minutes, then serve.
Tomato and Lamb Soup
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon minced fresh ginger
3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
1/2 pound minced lamb shoulder
1 teaspoon coarse salt
2 ripe tomatoes, peeled
1/2 pound egg noodles, cooked and drained when almost soft
1 cup chopped fresh spinach
1/4 cup chopped fresh coriander
1. Heat oil in a large soup pot, and then stir-fry ginger, garlic, and the lamb until the meat is no longer pink.
2. Add salt and tomatoes and six cups of water and bring to the boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.
3. Next, add the noodles and the spinach, and when the spinach has wilted, add the coriander and out all in a pre-heated soup tureen, and serve.
Lamb Kebobs
1 small onion
3 tablespoons pomegranate juice
1 teaspoon coarse salt and ground pepper, mixed
2 whole fresh cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 teaspoon hot chili paste with garlic
1 pound boneless leg of lamb, cut into one-inch pieces
1. In a food processor, grind onion, juice, garlic, and the chili paste. Marinate meat cubes in this overnight in the refrigerator.
2. When ready to cook them, put five or six meat cubes on skewers and cook them on a grill or under the broiler for two minutes on each side. Then serve.

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