Sunday, April 13, 2014

(Belated, Again) Chinese New Year Meal #3: Laghman (Ban Mian)

There are a few cookbooks out there that I have been thinking about buying for years.  Some of them are by cookbook authors whose cookbooks we already own.  One cookbook that I have been thinking about buying for years is Beyond the Great Wall: Recipes and Travels in the Other China by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid.  But everytime I convince myself that I don't need yet another cookbook.  We easily have 30-40 cookbooks in the apartment, some of which we have never used.  I tried to make a deal with myself a few years ago that I wouldn't buy another cookbook until I made at least one recipe from each cookbook.  Clearly that never happened.  Earlier today I was trying to find a recipe for Uyghur laghman noodles and after finding out that Beyond the Great Wall had a recipe for laghman I went ahead and ordered it on Amazon.  My compromise was to buy the cookbook in Kindle format so it doesn't clutter up the apartment.  I thought it made a lot of sense (although it does make it more difficult sometimes to find and use the recipes).

This dish is one of the dishes that I remember fondly from China, but haven't eaten since I left.  You don't get a lot of Uyghur food in the United States.  And when I showed Alex the recipe, he was a little shocked by how un-Chinese it all was.  This dish screams Italy more than China - it's like a pasta with a tomato and meat sauce.  It's a relatively homey and simple flavor combination - no spices (although we added cumin), no heat, just lamb, bell peppers and tomatoes.

Recipe after the jump!

Laghman (Ban Mian)
Adapted from Beyond the Great Wall: Recipes and Travels in the Other China
By Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lb boneless lamb, chopped into 1/2-inch to 1-inch pieces
generous 1/4 tsp ground cumin 
2 large bell peppers (red, orange, yellow, or a combination), cored, seeded, sliced into strips
1/4 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and coarsely ground
1½ lb ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 tsp kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper
1 lb fresh Chinese noodles
parsley, chopped for garnish
black rice vinegar for serving 

Heat a wok or large skillet over high heat.  Add the oil and swirl it around a bit.  Once the oil is hot, add onion, garlic, lamb and cumin.  Stir-fry until the meat changes color and the onion has softened and turned translucent (about 4-5 min).  Add the peppers and stir-fry for another couple of minutes.  Add the tomatoes, s&p and mix well.  Lower the heat to medium and cook until the peppers are soft (but not mushy) and the whole thing looks quite saucy and is simmering, about 5-6 minutes.

While the sauce is simmering, salt the pot of boiling water and carefully add in the noodles.  Cook the noodles until al dente according to the package instructions. 

Drain the noodles and divide them between four bowls.  Ladle in plenty of sauce over the noodles.  Garnish with some chopped parsley.  Serve with black rice vinegar.

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