Lamb stir fry in home-made szechwan sauce

Beef in szechwan sauce

Pete’s favourite dish at his favourite Chinese restaurant (the China Rose in Nesscliffe, for those local to Shrewsbury) is the sizzling fillet steak stir fry (the steak cut into strips, obviously!), which comes in a savoury tomato sauce with lots of onions. I’ve never tried competing with it, because I don’t run a restaurant!

However, there was a lamb steak in the fridge at home yesterday, which I wanted to make a stir fry with for Pete’s dinner, rather than the usual pan-seared one. I asked what sort of sauce he wanted with it, and he suggested a tomato-based one (hmmm, wonder where he got the idea). I guess he meant for me to get a bottle of readymade Szechwan sauce on the way home from work, but that wasn’t MY plan. I wanted to make the sauce at home (or an approximation thereof). I could have looked it up online but since it’s my favourite for its spiciness and I know more or less the flavour I was after, I just decided to wing it.

Of course, this sauce being for Pete, I had no intention of making it as hot as it should ideally have been, but I kid you not when I say that it was absolutely PACKED with flavour and smelt so very good as it was cooking. I know this is only my opinion, but I really think that you should try it.

Recipe: Lamb stir fry in home-made szechwan-style sauce

Ingredients for the sauce:

Dry red Kashmiri chillies (or any mild dried chilli) – 1-5 (depending on taste)
2 tbsp minced shallots
2-4 cloves garlic
1″ piece of ginger, peeled and sliced thinly
2 tbsp concentrated tomato paste
2 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp mirin
1/2 tsp szechwan pepper, ground finely
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 tbsp peanut oil
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp Chinese 5-spice powder
Salt – to taste
Sliced spring onion greens for garnish

1. Remove and discard the seeds from the dried red chillies, then soak the chillies in hot water for 15-30 minutes.

2. Grind together the softened chillies, ginger, garlic and szechwan pepper to make a smooth paste.

3. Heat the oil in a pan, then add the minced shallots and fry them until they start to soften. Add the reserved paste and fry for 2 minutes, stirring.

4. Now add the remaining ingredients – tomato paste, soy sauce, mirin, tomato ketchup, 5-spice powder and sugar – and stir well. Add water as required to make a fairly thick paste and cook the sauce for 5 minutes. Taste it to see that the flavours are balanced – you can add soy sauce or vinegar (or more mirin) as per your taste.

For the stir-fry:

1 6-oz lamb steak (good quality), sliced into strips
1 medium bell pepper, de-seeded and sliced into strips
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
2 tsp oil

Heat the oil over high heat in a wok, then add the sliced onions and stir-fry for a minute until the onions soften. Now add the pepper strips and the sliced steak, and continue to stir-fry until the steak is almost cooked. This should take 2-3 minutes. Stir in the szechwan sauce to taste and let the mix simmer gently for 2 minutes. Serve hot over plain steamed rice garnished with sliced spring onions.

Verdict: Pete said it was an extremely tasty sauce and he would be happy to eat it any time

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