Xinjiang, an autonomous region in Northwestern China is home to numerous ethnic groups, including Uyghurs, a tribe of Turkic origin. Lamb often takes precedence over pork, and cumin, a spice not usually associated with Chinese cuisine is a common seasoning.
This typical stir-fry, which employs both of those ingredients, is perfect for this time of year. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, lamb is a warming, or Yang food- just what we need on these cold snowy nights. Great with steamed white rice or Chinese noodles.
Xinjiang Style Lamb with Cumin
3 Tablespoons Chinese roasted peanut oil, or rice bran oil*
1 lb. lamb shoulder, sliced against the grain into thin strips
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 large green pepper, deseeded and cut into thin strips
3 longhorn peppers, deseeded and cut into thin strips* (can substitute 2 small hot chilies, minced)
1 Tablespoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns*, dry toasted in a pan until fragrant, and crushed slightly
2 Tablespoons cumin seed, dry toasted until fragrant
3 cloves garlic, peeled and diced
1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves and stems.
Heat a wok over high heat, and, when hot swirl in 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the onion and peppers and stir-fry two minutes, until slightly charred and just beginning to soften. Add the soy sauce, the sugar, give a quick toss, and remove.
Re-heat the wok and wipe dry.Add the rest of the oil, and, when hot, add the cumin and Sichuan peppercorns, stir-fry a few seconds, and immediately add the garlic. Add the lamb, and stir-fry until just cooked through. Re-add the onion and peppers, tossing to heat through.
Remove and serve hot, sprinkled with cilantro. Serves 4
* available at C-Mart, located at 109 Lincoln Street in Boston’s Chinatown, and other Asian markets
written by Jim Becker-Chinatown guide