*** I've got a bit of an update here. This is still one of my favorite things to make!
If you're familiar with my posts, you know that I'm unable to resist the temptation of ordering Cumin Lamb once I see it on the menu. Years ago, if you mentioned cumin and Chinese Food in the same sentence, I would have given you a puzzled look. That was of course, before spending those years living and eating in the San Gabriel Valley, and being exposed to the variety of regional Chinese food found in the area. Still, if one has a conversation about Chinese seasonings, I don't think cumin would come up in the conversation.
I find humor in the fact that the Missus loves this dish as well; She is not a big fan of the distinct "B. O." -ish smell of cumin. The dish itself is based on the dishes of the Uyghur people (Turkic) , most of whom live in Xinjiang, one of the Autonomous regions of China. The dish reflects the "big three seasonings" used in Xinjiang cuisine, salt, red chilies, and of course cumin (孜然). The recipe reflects the combination of three attempts at making this dish. All of which, with the help of the Big Kahuna, came out real well. Funny thing is, I didn't take photos of the last try, which came out the best. What I found is using garlic that's been minced along with slices, sliced onions, and cilantro do it for me. Also, in the last recipe, I used some dark soy which helped to add color, something my original version lacked. I used "shabu shabu" slices of lamb, which can be found at 99 Ranch Market and Zion Market. The best lamb I got was from 99 Ranch Market in San Gabriel, it was very gamey, which just made everything come together well. Make sure to toast the cumin seeds in a dry pan. Using high heat prevents the dish from coming too "watery".
This was so easy that it caused the Missus to exclaim; "you know, there's no reason for any restaurant to screw up this dish". As always, my recipe is just a basic outline, and I'm sure stuff like fresh chilies, and other ingredients will make this dish shine.
2/3 - 3/4 lb lamb sliced into strips
- Combine lamb and marinade ingredients. Mix and set aside for 15 - 30 minutes
- Before heating wok, add onion slices to marinade and meat.
- Heat a wok over very high heat.
- Add oil and swirl. Add red chilies and briefly scald.
- Add garlic, stir quickly, than add meat. Stir fry over high heat.
- When lamb is cooked, remove from heat and stir in cilantro. Taste and adjust salt.