Sang Choi Bao of Sichuan Lamb with Smoked Eggplant Nahm Prik

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Serves about

    12

Appears in

This dish is another happy marriage. Australians love sang choi bao – it’s a classic suburban Chinese restaurant dish that everyone grew up eating. And what better to pair it with than lamb, Australia’s favourite protein. Eggplant works really well with lamb, so this dish is just a combination of best mates. Prepare to marinate the lamb a day ahead.

Ingredients

Eggplant Nahm Prik

  • 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) large eggplants (aubergines)
  • 1 pickled jalapeño pepper, roughly chopped
  • 10 coriander (cilantro) roots, washed
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 15 g (½ oz) small long red chillies, roughly chopped
  • 50 g ( oz) white miso paste
  • 5 g ( oz) bonito flakes (katsuoboshi)
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce

Marinated Lamb

  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 250 g (9 oz) fermented tofu (fuyu)
  • tablespoons Knorr Liquid Seasoning
  • 150 ml (5 fl oz) shaoxing wine
  • teaspoons bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
  • 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) boneless lamb leg, all sinew removed, diced into 1 cm (½ inch) pieces

The Rest

  • vegetable oil, for frying
  • kernels from 4 cobs of corn
  • 1 bunch garlic chives, snipped into 5 mm (¼ inch) lengths
  • 150 g ( oz) unsalted roasted peanuts
  • 100 ml ( fl oz) maple syrup
  • 100 g ( oz) Lao Gan Ma chilli oil (with peanuts)
  • baby cos (romaine) lettuce leaves, to serve
  • sprigs of coriander (cilantro), mint, Vietnamese mint and baby shiso leaves, to garnish

Method

Eggplant Nahm Prik

Roast the eggplants over an open flame (a gas hob works well) until the skin is nicely charred all over and the flesh is soft.

Transfer them (blistered skin and all) to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to steam them for 20 minutes. When they are cool enough to handle, carefully remove and discard the charred skin.

Put the flesh into the bowl of a food processor and whizz along with the rest of the ingredients. Taste it. It should be sour, salty and smoky. Adjust the seasoning to your taste with more lime or fish sauce if necessary.

Marinated Lamb

Blend all the ingredients except the lamb in a food processor until a smooth paste forms. Transfer to a bowl, add the lamb and toss well to coat. Marinate overnight in the fridge, covered, or for at least 2 hours.

The Rest

Add a little oil to a hot wok over a high heat. Start by frying the lamb in batches. Be sure not to overcrowd the wok, otherwise you’ll end up with stewed meat rather than nicely caramelised pieces.

Fry each batch for 3–4 minutes, until three-quarters cooked. Once you’ve stir-fried all the lamb, return it to the wok and add the corn, garlic chives and peanuts and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the maple syrup and reduce the liquid in the wok by half. Finally, add the chilli sauce and cook for a further 1 minute.

Serve the lamb in a bowl, with the lettuce cups, herbs and eggplant on the side. Help yourselves!