Chinese Lamb Stew
Lamb might not be the first meat that comes to mind when considering Chinese food, but for the vast western part of China, lamb is the meat of choice. The Chinese have many exciting ways of braising both mutton and lamb with spices. This tasty and filling lamb version is a great family dish that is perfect for the winter. It goes well with plain steamed rice or wrapped inside Chinese Pancakes.
450g (1lb) boned shoulder of lamb
2 spring onions
2 slices of fresh ginger
1 tbsp groundnut or vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
For the braising sauce:
900ml (1½ pints) chicken stock
2 whole star anise
50g (2oz) Chinese rock sugar or granulated sugar
3 tbsp dark soy sauce
3 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
1 piece of Chinese cinnamon bark or cinnamon stick
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
Step 1: Cut the meat into 5cm (2in) cubes. Bring a large saucepan of water to boil over high heat. Add the lamb and cook to remove some of the surface fat, about 3 minutes. Drain in a colander. Place the lamb on a plate and set it aside. Cut carrot in similar size.
Step 2: Heat a wok or a large frying pan over a high heat until it is hot. Add the oil, and when it is very hot and slightly smoking, add the scallions, ginger, and dried chilies, and stir-fry until they are fragrant about 15 seconds. Add the lamb and stir-fry until the lamb is browned, about 2 1/2 minutes. Stir in the rice wine, star anise, and cinnamon stick, then add soy sauce, rock sugar, and 3 cups of chicken stock or water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover the wok and simmer at a gentle bubble for 40 minutes. Add the bean threads, cover, and continue simmering for 20 minutes.
Step 3: Add the carrot. Simmer, covered, for 15 minutes, until the lamb and carrots are tender. (The stew can be made up to 1 day ahead, cooled, covered, and refrigerated. Scrape off and discard the solidified fat from the surface. Reheat gently before serving.) Add 2 tbsp hoisin sauce to bring up the favor.
Skin off and discard the fat from the surface of the sauce. Remove the star anise, cinnamon, and serve hot.