How is the weather where you are? After a night of pouring rain in Oxford, the sun shining through the window again this morning, lighting up the bedroom, and shining through my eye lids — I woke up — in the warm, yellow coloured sun light — just love the day starting like this!!
I miss the mornings waken up by the sun like this. In Northeast China, four seasons are very distinguishable, and the start of every season has been marked in Chinese calendar since ancient times. (It is actually marked 24 days to distinguish the typical weather in different seasons, as well as the start of the season). Although, in winter, it could reach -30 degrees in my city, in summer, it could reach almost +40 degrees, and is sunny most of the time through out the year.
Somehow, I always remember in the summer morning, the sun came through the window and the curtain around 5am, woke me up, I was a bit sweaty, but warm and happy. Hearing me waking up, my auntie, who was then at ours helping take care of the family, would came to me, gave me a big morning hug, wiped the sweat from my forehead and asked me what I wanted for breakfast.
Unconsciously, this scene has been embedded in the very deep memory, and whenever mornings like this, I could not help — it came to me vividly.
Hope it’s going to be warm today, coz today’s dish is good to go with a pint of beer in the sun — lamb on toothpicks ‘Ya qian rou’ in Chinese.
It is a very typical dish from my ethnic group , and I learned it from my uncle. I don’t think I have mentioned how important lamb is in my ethnic group. It is not only considered as a very traditional delicious food, but also, (more importantly) it shows extreme respect if it is included in the ‘memorial’ service meals. (I will blog about this cultural tradition another day).
Although it can be beef or chicken, it is traditionally a lamb dish .
It is not difficult to make at all, but putting the small pieces of lamb on the each toothpick can consume some time. — So, for your weekend treat! And it is not just ‘homey’ dish, it is absolutely great for guests!
The recipe: Chinese lamb (Ya qian rou)
Lamb (The meat from the leg with a little bit fat is the best for this dish). I used 250gm of lamb, (I think).
Salt, oil, sugar, ground chilli (We did not have ground chilli at home when this was cooked, so I used crushed chilli), ground cumin, cumin seeds, ground sichuan peppercorn ( or the water with it soaked in, it is good to get rid of the ‘smell’ from the lamb), sesame oil, light soy sauce.
You also need some good quality toothpicks, they are better to be strong and smooth. I bought it from Boots a while ago, they are very chippy and very easy to break, not recommended, at least not good for this dish — lesson learned. :)
1) Chop the lamb into around 2cm length thin pieces.
2) Mix 1 full teaspoon of salt, 2 tablespoon of oil, 1 teaspoon of white sugar, 2/3 teaspoon of ground chilli, 1 teaspoon of ground cumin, 1 tablespoon of cumin seeds, 1/2 teaspoon of ground sichuan peppercorn, 1 tablespoon of sesame oil, 1 tablespoon of light soy sauce with lamb pieces.
3) Mix all the seasonings well with lamb.
4) Put each piece (or two if the piece is too small) on each toothpick, cover and leave it for 30 mins or more.
Frying the lamb
In a wok, pour in oil, when the oil is very heated up, put the lamb pieces on the toothpicks in, frying around 5 minutes, if you like to be a little dry, fry a bit longer, (but not too long though, as it could be difficult to ‘bite’ the meat off the toothpicks), otherwise, take it out, place on the plate, and
Eat hot! — with boiled rice or beer! You don’t need to prepare chopsticks or folks, go with hands while holding the beer glass. :))