Lamb, mint & cucumber rolls with hazelnut dukkah & yoghurt

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Preparation info

  • For

    8

    • Difficulty

      Medium

Appears in

Fusion: A Culinary Journey

Fusion

By Peter Gordon

Published 2010

  • About

In 2007, I cooked in a huge inflatable white rugby ball capable of holding almost 200 people, very close to the Eiffel Tower in Paris. I was there as part of Tourism New Zealand’s marketing campaign to promote New Zealand as the host nation for the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Years earlier I had created menus for the All Blacks’ tour of Britain, which we unfortunately didn’t win. I think I must be jinxed - as we also didn’t win in 2007. However, what I think I did do quite well was introduce a New Zealand theme to the food served in the ball. This is one of the dishes I created and one which proved very popular. I’ve also made it using rare roast duck breast, sliced like the lamb in this recipe, topped with a dried chilli and peanut sort of dukkah. Dukkah is a great mixture to dip warm bread you’ve doused with olive oil into, as well as a great sprinkle to serve over fish and salads. It originates in Egypt and can be made with a variety of nuts and spices, and sometimes chickpeas.

Ingredients

  • 400 g lamb loin (or use the flesh from racks of lamb), trimmed of any sinew or fat
  • 15 ml (1 Tbsp) olive oil
  • 1 long cucumber
  • 30 g hazelnuts, toasted and peeled
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds, toasted
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted
  • ½ tsp coarsely ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp dried rubbed mint
  • ½ tsp dried chilli flakes or smoked paprika
  • 12 mint leaves, shredded
  • 100 g thick yoghurt

Method

Heat up a pan that has a tight-fitting lid. Rub the lamb with the oil, season liberally, then place in the pan. Cook for a minute with the lid on, then roll it 90°, cook another minute and continue to cook this way, with the lid on between each roll, until you’ve cooked it pink (medium-rare). This will take around 5-6 minutes in total depending on the thickness of the meat. Alternatively, roast it in the oven or barbecue it. Take from the pan, leave to cool, then place in the fridge for at least an hour to chill down and firm up.

Top and tail the cucumber. Using a potato peeler or mandolin, peel thin strips from the cucumber, making sure each strip has the skin still attached. You want eight strips in total. Toss the strips with ¼ teaspoon salt then leave to ‘cure’ for 30 minutes in a covered bowl.

While the cucumber is curing make the dukkah. Crush the nuts coarsely, using a pestle and mortar or a small food processor, and mix with the remaining dry ingredients (which you can pound briefly to release their oils too). Mix in 1 teaspoon flaky salt (or less of fine salt) and it’s ready - keep it stored in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

Rinse the cucumber gently in a bowl of cold water, then pat each strip dry with a kitchen cloth. Lay them out on a bench side by side.

Slice the lamb lengthways as thin as you can, into eight strips, discarding the outer edges which will be overcooked and firm. It’s easier to do this when the lamb is straight from the fridge. Lay these on a bench too, then sprinkle with the shredded mint leaves and a little of the dukkah. One by one, roll each lamb strip up tightly, then roll the cucumber tightly around the meat - see the photo.

To Serve

Dollop on the yoghurt, then dip into the dukkah. Serve extra dukkah and yoghurt on the side.