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I’d never really thought of lamb as being a part of Chinese cuisine, but apparently, it’s very popular in both Northern and Southern China where oxen were forbidden to be slaughtered since they were the workhorses of the farming community. Lamb and mutton, not so much.
While this can be made with another ground meat, turkey, pork or beef, I think the lamb gives it a nice earthy flavor that you would lose if you substitute another ground meat.
But, one of the things I love about the flavors of this recipe is, putting half of the marinade INTO the meat. Flavoring it from the inside with the same great flavor as the sauce.
Although the sauce is a bit more complex.
Bok Choy is a type of Chinese cabbage. While it doesn’t grow into a head as you might expect of cabbage, it looks more like celery, with a rather firm bottom and a leafy top. It has a very mild, slightly cabbagy flavor.
I generally remove the larger outside leaves for making this recipe, keeping the tender inside to quickly grill as a side to another meal. The inside core is easily cut into halves, brush a little sesame seed oil on the leaves, and then grill, either on the BBQ or a grill pan. Lovely smoky flavors.
With this recipe, as I said, I use the outside leaves, separating the white bottoms from the leafy top. Cook the bottoms first, adding the delicate leaves at the last moment to retain their color and to keep them from getting mushy.
For this recipe, I use fettuccine pasta, but you could use wide rice noodles to make this a gluten-free meal.
One pot cooking, done in about 30 minutes, including boiling the water for the noodles. How easy is that?
If you would like to serve a wine with this, I recommend a Pinot Noir. Look for, or ask your wine merchant to recommend one that is a little earthy, it will complement the earthiness of the lamb. Another good wine choice would be a Cab Franc most commonly known as a blending grape, but yummy on its own as well.
Combine the rice wine, sesame oil, and soy sauce into a measuring cup. Put the lamb into a bowl, add 1/2 of the rice wine mixture and 1/2 of the minced garlic. Mix well.
Add the water, chili garlic sauce and cornstarch to the remaining rice wine mixture, mix well and set aside.
Heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat; add 1 tablespoon of the oil, when hot, add the lamb and cook for about 3 minutes, breaking the meat up into large pieces as you cook it (the meat pieces should be about 1/2 inch big).
Reduce the heat to medium; add the remaining tablespoon of oil along with the remaining garlic, the ginger and the green onion (except for the part that you are reserving for garnish); stir-fry for a few minutes, then add the bok choy. Cook until the bok choy is just cooked through, but still has a little bit of crunch in the stem; about 3 minutes. (If you had to use larger bok choy, add the stem pieces first, stir fry until tender then add the tops.) Add the noodles to the pan, along with the reserved rice wine mixture; stir-fry until the noodles are hot and coated with sauce.
Serve in wide warmed bowls (remember to always warm you plates so the food stays hot longer); sprinkle the reserved green onion tops over.
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