This is our version of the Chinese restaurant standard ‘Mongolian Lamb’. As you can probably tell from the title of this post, we used mutton, but you could certainly use lamb or beef if you prefer. Like one of our other Chinese posts, the secret to the tender, succulent meat, lies in the velveting preparation of the meat. Although it’s more authentic to use onions alone, we used carrots, celery, onion, broccoli stems, peas and Chinese mushrooms. You could, though, use any vegetables that you have on hand.
The resulting dish wasn’t an exact replication of what you’d get at a restaurant, but in some ways this was a good thing. The type you get at the local Chinese is quite oily and acidic. This home-cooked rendition was extremely flavoursome and did capture something of the original dish, but tasted more wholesome and healthy. The velveting process and the smoke from the wok nevertheless delivers that ‘Chinese takeaway’ flavour that we all know and love. Another quick dish to make that costs a fraction of the price you’d pay if you dined out. The recipe follows…
500g of mutton, very finely sliced against the grain
2 heaped tablespoons cornflour
1 level teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
3 small cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Chinese hot chilli sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 medium onion, sliced
1 carrot, cut in half and then cut on the diagonal
1 large stem of celery, cut on the diagonal
1 whole broccoli stem, thickly peeled and cut in to batons
4 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in hot water, then de-stemmed and sliced
1/2 cup frozen peas
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 tablespoons sweet soy sauce (kecap manis)
1 teaspoon Chinese black vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
3 tablespoons Chinese rice wine
1 cup meat stock
vegetable oil for frying
1 tablespoon cornflour mixed in to 2 tablespoons water
- Put all the velveting ingredients in a bowl and mix well – until the egg is beaten up and the cornflour is well incorporated and homogenised. Set aside.
- Slice all your vegetables and place them on a plate in the order of cooking (generally carrots need to be put in first, then celery, then onions, and peas go in at the last minute).
- Mix all the sauces and stock together in a bowl, ready for cooking.
- Heat a wok over a very high heat. Add a tablespoon or two of oil.
- When the oil smokes, add half of the velveting mixture and brown the meat well, stirring to make sure all sides come in contact with the heat. When ready (after about 2 to 3 minutes) transfer to a plate.
- Repeat steps 1 and 2 using the remaining half of the velveting mix.
- Add some more oil to the (now empty) wok, and when smoking, add the vegetables in the appropriate order. Stir fry for a few minutes. Try not to overcook them at this stage – vegetables in Chinese stir-frys like this tend to retain some crunch.
- Return the meat to the wok (along with the veg) and add the sauce mix. Stir well.
- Add the cornflour and water mix and allow to thicken.
- Remove from heat and serve immediately with steamed rice.