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.
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.
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.
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!
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