Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Chinese New Year Meal #3: Xinjiang Lamb Kebobs (Yang Rou Chuan) and Naan with Sauteed Watercress

I promised you guys another Chinese New Year meal and I delivered!  Actually, we made fried rice last night as well, but in the spirit of last year I decided not to count it as one of my seven Chinese New Year meals.  I will post the fried rice later as a bonus.  Whoo-hoo!  Go me.  Really I should say "go us" because Alex was instrumental in getting this meal started since the dough needed to rest and the meat needed to marinate for 2 hours.

I am really really excited about these recipes.  They are not perfect, but they are a much better approximation of the Xinjiang food I used to eat on the streets in China than anything else we have made in the past.  We even made naan like they used to make at the Xinjiang restaurants I used to visit (and love).  The kebobs could use a little tweaking, but we are definitely getting closer!  One of the biggest things I wish we could change about the lamb is that it would be that much better if we had a charcoal grill.  I really miss the char and the smoky flavor.  And the spice mixture needs to be tweaked a little - next time I am going to omit the Szechuan peppercorns and cut back on the amount of coriander seeds (I already cut back the recipe a little from what we made).  It was just a little too floral for me and didn't pack quite enough heat.  I like my yang rou chuan pretty spicy.  Alex had a problem with the texture of the meat - he didn't like biting into a layer of spices on the outside of the kebob.  Since that is how I remember the lamb kebobs as being heavily spiced (sometimes even more heavily spiced, almost furry with spices) I have no problem with it.  But I can see where he is coming from.  The bread I thought was a huge success.  The texture is a little different (and it was a little sweeter than I remember), but it was really good - nice and soft and slightly chewy.  We tried a variety of toppings on the bread - one round had sesame seeds, one had cumin seeds, one had scallions, and the other had all of those toppings, plus a few fennel seeds.  In the end Alex preferred the bread with sesame seeds.  I might have to agree with him, although I did really enjoy the combination as well.  The sauteed watercress is a dish that we have made in the past that I generally make with a heavily spiced meal that I don't want the vegetable to compete with.  I love how easily it comes together (and aside from the annoying process of tearing the leaves off the stems, it is a really quick side).

Recipe after the jump!

Xinjiang Lamb Kebobs (Yang Rou Chuan)
Adapted from EdiblyAsian

1 lb of lamb leg, cut into 1-inch cubes (or thin strips that can be folded up to cubes of roughly that size)
1/4 cup ground cumin
1 tsp coriander seeds (optional)
2 tbsp dried chili flakes
1 tbsp ground black pepper
1/2 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp ground Szechuan peppercorns (optional)
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 tbsp salt
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Combine lamb, cumin, coriander, chili flakes, black pepper, chili powder, Szechuan peppercorns, garlic, salt, lemon juice, soy sauce and vegetable in a large bowl and marinate for 2 hours.

Soak bamboo skewers in cold water. Slide the meat loosely onto the skewers - you want there to be room between the pieces of meat on the skewers so they can cook evenly. Grill the meat on a cast iron grill pan or over a moderately hot charcoal fire for abour 3 minutes on each side only.

Remove from grill and allow to rest 3-4 minutes before serving.  Serve with naan and watercress.

Xinjiang Naan Bread

1 package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
3 tbsp white sugar
2 tsp salt, plus additional
1 tbsp melted butter
3 tbsp plain yogurt (we used lebneh)
3 1/4 cups flour, plus additional for sprinkling
1 scallion, finely chopped (for topping)
white sesame seeds (for topping)
whole cumin seeds (for topping)

Attach the bread hook to your electric mixer. Add the yeast, sugar, and warm water to the mixing bowl and allow it to foam for 10-20 minutes. Add the salt, butter and yogurt. Then slowly add the flour to the mixture. Allow the mixer to “knead” your dough for 5 minutes. The dough should be soft and silky, but still slightly sticky. Oil the mixing bowl, then cover and let the dough rise until doubled in size—1-2 hours. Preheat the oven with a pizza stone on the middle rack to 450 degrees F. Dump the dough onto a floured surface. Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces. Stretch the dough into circle roughly 9 inches in diameter with with the edge thicker than the center of the dough (like a pizza). Use a fork to poke holes all over the dough circle except for the edge. Brush the dough with a little vegetable oil and sprinkle with salt. Sprinkle dough lightly with cumin seeds, finely chopped scallion and/or sesame seeds.

Place dough on the preheated pizza stone and bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Sauteed Watercress

2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp veg oil
2 bunches of watercress, coarse stems discarded and the watercress rinsed but not spun dry
fresh lemon juice

Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add vegetable oil.  Saute the garlic in the oil until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the watercress, and saute until it is just wilted, about 1 minute, and season it with salt and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice (we used about 1 tsp Meyer lemon juice).

No comments:

Post a Comment