Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A New Lamb Curry

We had an unseasonably cool summer in Chicago. And so it was that I did a lot more indoor cooking than usual. That I ate more and exercised less is something I'll have to deal with soon enough. But I've got no complaints. The summer of 2013 was, in sum, pretty much awesome. I saw some great concerts, had some fabulous meals, got a VitaMix blender (!), killed my first lobsters (more on that soon), and developed some new favorite meals.

This Burmese Lamb Curry will be with us forever - it's that good. Its origins are with David Lebovitz - he published a recipe for beef curry this spring. The idea to make it was still in my head one day at the market when I saw some gorgeous lamb stew meat. The flavors translated well to the lamb and my recipe is barely different than the original beef version.

Fresh ginger is something I'm always grateful to have on hand. Having a well-stocked pantry is likely a relic of my years in the mountains. My children were small and we lived nearly 2,000 vertical feet, several hairpin turns, and about six miles from the town grocery store. I avoided popping into town just to pick up one or two things at the market. We had a co-op from which I purchased cases of juice, whole peeled tomatoes, sprouted grain pizza crusts (Hey! I miss those!), and assorted sundries. The Walmart (3,000 vertical feet and 65 miles from the Town of Telluride) supplied nearly everything else. And we had Rose's Market, aka Clark's, for anything you might require - plus really wonderful trout from Mark at the fish and meat counter - between trips to Montrose.

Back to ginger. It's versatile and keeps for, like, ever, in the bin in the fridge. I like to buy cactus-shaped pieces, breaking off a nub as needed and just tossing the rest back in the bin. I don't even wrap it - I think it's happier left as is. I use ginger in pad thai, curries, salad dressings, kung pao, marinades, Asian lettuce wraps, and gyoza. It's an easy ingredient to add to your cooking routine - especially if you're in a bit of a rut and need to add some new flavors to your cooking.

You can source lamb stew meat at any butcher (essentially cubed boneless leg of lamb which is super lean), or substitute beef stew like the Lebovitz recipe stipulates. Here's my recipe:

Burmese Lamb Curry
Print recipe only here

Serves 2

1 pound stewing meat (beef or lamb), cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 T garlic, finely chopped or pressed
2 T canola oil
2 1/2 cups water
1 T fish sauce
2 T fried shallots (see below)
8 small shallots, peeled and left whole
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder

Mix the beef pieces in a bowl with the salt and turmeric, massaging the salt into the meat. Chill for an hour.

Mash the ginger and garlic together in a mortar and pestle, if you have one, otherwise just chop up as finely as you can. Heat the oil in a large open saute pan or wok over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger and saute for a few minutes, stirring, until soft and fragrant.

Turn the heat up to high and add the lamb or beef and cook, stirring occasionally until browned. Add the whole shallots, water, and fish sauce. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 1 hour. If the water evaporates during the cooking, just add a bit more.

Stir in the fried shallots and chili powder. Cook another 10 minutes or so. Taste for seasoning and serve.

* To make deep-fried shallots, heat some oil and add a generous handful of finely sliced (peeled) shallots – about 1/2 cup, cooking them in a few inches of hot oil until deep golden-brown, then scoop them out and let them cool on a rack or paper towel until crisp. They can be stored in a jar for a few days if you want to do them in advance.


Unknown said...

Hi! I am making this for Simon's bday dinner on Friday! I can't wait. I'll take your advice and use lamb instead of beef. Any side dish suggestions? Plain steamed veg seems too boring for a celebration dinner. I love the Ottolenghi book you have on your online bookshelf. I also refer to his book, Plenty, frequently. So great to see you last week. Looking forward to making our visits a regular occasion again!
Lea xo

Katie Fairbank said...

How about a cococut scented rice? I've posted on version here (tho it's really just scented - you might desire upping the cococut in there if you're a big fan):


I think this sort of meal lends itself well to courses, esp so since it's for a special occasion. How about this? Start a few apps (bacon dates, ginger-jalapeno rice apps (https://sites.google.com/site/mkfairbank/ginger-jalapenoriceapps - they're so good!) or crab cakes on greens (https://sites.google.com/site/mkfairbank/crabcakes). Then move into the main dish (and you could always add a spicy baby broccoli or green beans to the side of that dish), and finish up with gingerbread served with whipped cream (https://sites.google.com/site/mkfairbank/gingerbread)?

Some ideas to consider, anyway. Happy Birthday to Simon!

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