Who's the Baketard?

Why Baketard? Love to cook, hate to bake. Despite having gone to cooking school and working in some top kitchens, I never learned the baking side of things. I'm building my baking and photography skills, while sharing recipes that rock my world in the mean time.

Entries in sichuan (4)

Tuesday
Jan212014

Dan Dan Mien

I haven't shared a new recipe in an inexcusable amount of time. I don't have any new excuses, but I do have this: a FANTASTIC recipe for my favorite Sichuanese street food dish - Dan Dan Mien.

I've talked before about going to Chengdu to cook, hopeful that taking a two week cooking immersion would meet all of my gluttonous dreams. Before I left, I had a list of 15 Sichuan dishes I didn't want to come home without learning to make myself. I learned all of them but one (La Zi Ji, Chongqing Spicy Chicken), and that was due to a translation error when I explained what I wanted to the chef.  The dish at the top of my must-learn list was also the dish I most fell in love with from the street vendors we'd visit every day at lunch: Dan Dan Mien.

The recipe I learned to make at the school was unlike anything I'd had at Sichuan restaurants here. It didn't involve peanuts or sesame (There is a different noodle dish we learned to make which highlighted these ingredients). The meat was a garnish, not a big component like we see here. And it was hot. VERY hot. I came home and made this dish for friends. I made it for David and myself when we wanted some fiery comfort food. I made it for myself when I had a bad day at work and wanted to sit huddled in a corner, rocking back and forth. I always have a vat of homemade chile oil ready to go and I never tire of this dish. It's better than anything I've ever tried in any restaurant.....but as I've mentioned before, when I signed up for the classes I promised not to blog the recipes. I've honored that. This recipe is not that. This recipe is something I found on the LA Times website when I was searching for something completely different. And. It. ROCKS.

This recipe is from Sang Yoon of Lukshon (I've posted one of his recipes before, and it was one I'll make until they put me in the Home). His Dan Dan Mien is much more complex and the flavors more fully developed than the simple street dish I learned to make in China. I prepared it for our friends to eat during the football game last weekend when Seattle stomped the 49ers to go to the Super Bowl. Consensus was it that was even better than the more "authentic" version. The sesame sauce adds depth and complexity. The Sichuan flavor base...well....be warned: It is totally fucking hot. Set-your-lips-into-a-tingly-inferno hot. But the depth of flavor is amazing. If you don't like spicy food, stick with your Italian bolognese. If you can take it, try this Sichuan classic. I think it's one of my favorite dishes I've ever tried.

Some comments: Don't be too put off by the number of steps here. There isn't that much active work time, and the sauces come together relatively quickly. I doubled the sauce quantities because I know we'll be eating a lot of this for a while. All of the ingredients listed in this dish can be found in an Asian market. Prickly ash oil is sichuan peppercorn oil. Everything else should be pretty self-explanatory, but feel free to mail me if you're stuck on an ingredient. And ENJOY! 

Dan Dan Noodles

30 minutes. Serves 8

Oil

1 pound ground pork

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon chopped garlic

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon chopped ginger

2 to 4 cups Sichuan flavor base, to taste (recipe below)

Cornstarch slurry (2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons each cornstarch and water, mixed)

1/4 cup prickly ash oil

1/4 cup chile oil

2 cups dan dan sesame sauce (recipe below)

1 1/2 pounds wheat noodles, cooked

Black vinegar

Crushed peanuts for garnish

1. In a wok heated over high heat, add enough oil to lightly coat the base of the wok. Add the ground pork, chopped garlic and ginger, stirring until the pork is browned, 3 to 5 minutes.

2. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the Sichuan flavor base (add msore or less depending on desired texture and heat). Cook the base with the pork to marry the flavors, then add the cornstarch slurry. Return the heat to high, and cook until the liquid comes to a boil and thickens, stirring constantly.

3. Pour over the prickly ash oil and chile oil and remove from heat.

4. In each of 8 serving bowls, ladle one-fourth cup dandan sesame sauce. Divide the noodles evenly among the bowls. Spoon over the pork and drizzle over a little black vinegar to taste. Garnish with crushed peanuts and serve immediately.

Sichuan Flavor Base

30 minutes. Makes about 1 quart

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (6¼ ounces) chili bean sauce (doubanjiang)

2 tablespoons (1¼ ounces) hoisin sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons (1/3 ounce) ground red Sichuan peppercorns

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (3/8 ounce, or around 22 chiles) dried red chiles

1/2 cup (4 ounces) shaoxing wine

2 tablespoons (1 ounce) Chinese sweet soy sauce

3 tablespoons (1½ ounces) Chinkiang black vinegar

1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons (3½ ounces) chile oil

2 1/2 tablespoons (1¼ ounces) prickly ash oil

Peanut oil, as needed

2 tablespoons (1 ounce) finely minced ginger

1/2 cup (3 ounces) finely minced garlic

1 1/3 cups (10½ ounces) chicken broth

Cornstarch slurry (2 tablespoons each cornstarch and water combined)

3 1/2 tablespoons (1¼ ounces) fermented black beans

1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper, or to taste

1 1/2 tablespoons (5/8 ounce) sugar, or to taste

1. In the bowl of a blender, combine the chili bean sauce, hoisin sauce, Sichuan peppercorns, red chiles, shaoxing wine, sweet soy sauce, Chinkiang black vinegar, chile oil and prickly ash oil. Blend to a smooth paste.

2. In a large sauté pan heated over medium heat, add enough peanut oil to coat the bottom of the pan and add the minced ginger and garlic. Sauté until aromatic. Add the mixture from the blender and stir well to combine with the garlic and ginger. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the raw flavor of the garlic and ginger is cooked out, about 5 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, bring the chicken broth to a boil. Whisk in the slurry and cook until the broth is thickened.

4. Stir the thickened chicken broth and black beans into the sauté pan. Season with the white pepper and sugar. The base will keep, covered and refrigerated, up to 1 week.

Dan Dan Sesame Sauce

35 minutes. Makes about 1 quart

Shallot-Chile Jam

3 tablespoons oil

1 pound shallots, peeled and sliced into very thin rounds

1/4 cup sugar

Powdered red chile, to taste

In a heavy-bottomed saute pan, combine the oil and shallots over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the shallots soften and start to color, 20 to 30 minutes. Stir in the sugar and continue to cook until the shallots are caramelized, an additional 10 to 15 minutes. If the shallots begin to dry out, drizzle over a little water to moisten. Remove from heat and add a pinch of powdered red chile, or to taste; the final "jam" should be a mixture of sweet (from the shallots and sugar) and heat (from the chile).This makes about one-half cup jam.

Dan dan Sesame Base

1 tablespoon peanut oil

2 tablespoons (¾ ounce) minced garlic

1 teaspoon (¼ ounce) minced ginger

Heaping ¼ cup (2½ ounces) shallot-chile jam

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (3 ounces) shaoxing wine

Heaping ¾ cup (4¼ ounces) toasted peanuts

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (5¾ ounces) sesame paste

1 tablespoon plus scant 1 teaspoon (5/8 ounce) dark soy sauce

1 tablespoon (½ ounce) light soy sauce

2 cups chicken broth

Ground white pepper

Salt

1. In a large sauté pan heated over medium-high heat, add the peanut oil, garlic, ginger and shallot-chile jam. Cook until aromatic and the mixture begins to form a fond (flavor base) at the bottom of the pan. Deglaze with the shaoxing wine, scraping the flavoring from the base of the pan, then pour the mixture into the bowl of a blender.

2. Puree the mixture with the peanuts, sesame paste, dark and light soy sauces and chicken broth (do not overfill the blender; this can be done in batches and combined).

3. Pour the sauce back into the sauté pan and simmer the sauce (careful not to boil or burn) for 10 to 15 minutes to cook out the raw garlic and ginger flavor. Season to taste with pepper and salt. The sauce will thicken as it cools; loosen with a little water before using. The sauce will keep for up to 1 week, covered and refrigerated.

 

Thursday
Sep192013

Sichuan Smoky Eggplant with Garlic (Huo Shao Qie Zi)

Again, I’ve been remiss in posting updates to Baketard when we’ve had new dishes I felt were keepers. I could blame work, a constant flow of houseguests this summer, some work and vacation travel, or my own damned laziness. I think you know which one of the above is to blame as well as I do. Hopefully this dish will help make it up to you. I am in LOVE with this cold appetizer.

I’ve posted a few items describing my latest trip to China and the time I spent at the Sichuan Culinary Institute in Chengdu, and I’ve put up a couple of recipes (with permission) while trying to honor the requests from the heads of the program not to publish what they teach at the school (Because if I did, why would anyone go and have that amazing experience for themselves). I completely respect their wishes.  This said, I still have some Chinese dishes to share. 

This summer, we have thrown a few Sichuan-themed dinner parties, taking what I learned during the program and adding in bits and pieces from cookbooks I’ve acquired abroad, notes from colleagues who are always willing to help me look up and translate cool dishes I’ve had when traveling, and of course, Fuchsia Dunlop’s published recipes. This eggplant dish is one of hers, and it’s a regular at our table. Cool, smoky, spicy, slightly sweet, creamy….it’s got it all, is relatively simple to make and I think it’s a stunning dish. I always double this recipe. Always.

The only modification I’ve made is to use Chinese thin-skinned eggplant (which require a greater number as they yield less flesh), and at the end I roughly chop the mixture rather than leaving them in strips. I also don’t bother with removing the seeds. If you do that with Chinese or Japanese eggplant, there isn’t much left over to work with.

Enjoy this one. It’s fantastic.

Ingredients:

2 eggplant (about 1 ¼ lb/600g)

2 tsp light soy sauce

2 tsp Chinkiang Vinegar

2 Tbsp chile oil with its sediment

1-2 tsp finely chopped garlic, to taste

½ tsp sesame seeds

2 Tbsp finely sliced spring onions

Instructions:

Prick each eggplant a couple of times with a fork, then lay them on a very low gas flame and allow them to soften and char, turning from time to time for even cooking (this can take up to an hour, so its best done when you have other chores in or near the kitchen).

When the skins have blackened and the flesh is soft and pulpy within, remove them from the stove and allow to cool.

Strip away the burned skin and tear the eggplant into strips, discarding the seeds as far as possible. Pile on a serving dish and pour or scatter over the other ingredients. Mix well before eating.

Click here for a link to the book: Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking

Saturday
Dec012012

Gongbao Diced Chicken (Chicken with Peanuts) 宫保鸡丁

Ok, I'm tardy on this one.  I’ve been back from the adventure of a lifetime for about a month now. I’ve been meaning to blog about it, and kept promising to do so, but do you ever have one of those experiences where you have so much to tell, you don’t even know where to begin?  Ok, then. QUIT JUDGING ME!!!

As both of you who read this blog know, I’m obsessed with Chinese food—ESPECIALLY Sichuan food. When Fuchsia Dunlop’s Land of Plenty was published over ten years ago, I became addicted to the balance of chile-fire and citrusy, mouth-numbing Sichuan pepper this cuisine brings. While not all Sichuan food carries these flavors, the dishes which most appealed to me did. I cooked my way through Fuchsia Dunlop’s book, scribbling notes about what I liked, and pestering my Chinese boss and colleagues at work with questions and requests to smuggle some of the more esoteric ingredients to me in between my own trips to China. When Ms. Dunlop’s second book about the cuisine of Hunan came out, I had a similar experience. The recipes work, they’re authentic, they taste of the dishes I’ve had when I’ve traveled, and her books make accessible techniques and flavors I never would have been able to make otherwise. Her third book, Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper, was an autobiography of her time in China, being the first westerner to attend the Sichuan Higher Institute of Cuisine. The book explained the challenges she faced and chronicled her journey from being a westerner to truly being immersed in the food and culture of Sichuan province. I dreamed of getting to experience this for myself. Because of the popularity of her books and Sichuan Cuisine, I was constantly on the lookout for the means to make it happen for me.

In October of this year, I went to Asia for three weeks. While this isn’t uncommon for me with work, it’s the first time I’ve done it alone, purely for fun. A few years back, I stumbled upon a website called Cooking School in China. This site detailed a two-week culinary immersion at the same institute where Fuchsia Dunlop studied. I drooled over the monthly recipes in the newsletter as it was released, and thought, “Some day…” This year, thanks to a supportive spouse who didn’t mind me going off on an adventure without him (he probably relished 3 weeks of peace and quiet), I finally decided to give it a shot. As the date of the trip approached, Diane Drey, the owner and facilitator of this adventure sent us tidbits about the city, things we would see, helpful tips on menus, items we needed to bring along, and finally recipes which began with an authentic Gung Bao (Kung Pao) Chicken challenge for us to try at home before the trip. I followed her recipe and make the chicken along with some other Asian dishes for a dinner party, understanding that what we learned in Chengdu might be a bit different. (It was, but only slightly—it really depends on which chef you have which day). It was DELICIOUS, and drove my excitement through the roof.

I started the trip with a few days in Bangkok with good friends we don’t see nearly enough, where we did our best to drink every drop of liquor and wine in the city in between bouts of power-shopping, eating at some amazing restaurants (I love you, David Thompson), and taking a Thai cooking class at the Oriental.  When my hangover and I arrived in Chengdu, I checked into my hotel, met my colleagues for the trip, and embarked upon the most exhilarating culinary adventure I have ever experienced. We lucked out, really…typically these classes have around 15 people from all over the world. This time, there were only 4 of us. We all had similar political (this was right before the presidential election) and social views, compatible personalities, and we just really clicked well together. This is important when you’re in a long commute each day, immersed in conversation and trying to ignore thinking about how you’re weaving in and out of insane Chengdu traffic).

The Culinary Institute itself is vast, and full of eager, curious kids excited to practice their English skills and find out why these big ol’ white boys were there wearing chef whites at the school.

The main entrance to the school

So shy.

Because there were only 4 in our group, we received an even higher level of individual attention from the chefs and staff than the norm. We had two interpreters named Betty and Nancy who were our culinary experts and liaisons throughout the program, and who were a real highlight of the trip. No matter how random or detailed our questions (and I had a LOT of questions), they either knew or researched the answer to ensure we were getting what we needed. (Fortunately, they were as passionate about increasing their English vocabulary as we were about increasing our culinary skills). 

Oh, how I love getting photos when they're eating.

On the rare occasion we couldn’t land on the English name for an ingredient, I’d take a photo of it on my iPad, send it out on twitter to the girls back home, and get an answer usually within minutes. It was also good for taking photos and scrawling out the names of the ingredients over the picture with your finger (there's an App for that) on the fly as not to forget anything. Gotta love technology!

Hasty finger scribbling

The chefs moved quickly, speaking even faster, and the girls quickly got used to me asking them to stop to ask how much of this or that ingredient went into the pot, what it was called, why they were doing it this way vs. that way, etc. I was pretty much the same pain in the ass I was when I went to culinary school in the US, but I looked at it like this: I’m here to learn everything I can possibly wring from this experience, and I want to be able to fully reproduce every nuance of this at home for my arched-eyebrow-of-judgment Chinese friends, and if I don’t take excruciatingly detailed notes I’m going to forget most of this because it’s so exciting. They were good sports and my colleagues in the class and I came to a compromise where I’d be the chief scribe and they would make sure everything was detailed at the right level, photographed thoroughly, and understood by all. It was a great arrangement for all of us, I think.

Classes typically followed a routine of 3 hours of chef demonstrations in the morning, showing us what we’d be making later in the day, followed by a break for lunch where we’d avoid the school cafeteria and beg the girls to take us to noodle shops outside the campus. These noodle shops were small, dark, and not something the Department of Health at home would be excited to see, but the food…OH MY GOD THE FOOD….it was breathtaking. And cheap. Lunch typically cost us around a dollar per person. We had Dan Dan noodles (one of my favorite Sichuan specialties), Yibin Kindling Noodles (a typically vegetarian dish with a great deal of fire), hot soups with hand-pulled noodles…the list was endless.

Street shop noodles. Amazing!

The proprietors of the shops were fascinated with us and our need to photograph EVERYTHING (I took about 4,000 photos on this trip. Truly). They were also very accommodating when I asked if I could take pictures of or with them and ask (through our saviors, Nancy and Betty) what they were doing or what the ingredients were. Naturally, I’d then scribble down the recipes they gladly shared. In the afternoons, we pulled out our cleavers and cutting boards and then it was our turn to try and reproduce what the chefs had shown us in the mornings.

A very patient chef and an annoyingly enthusiastic student

Fortunately, they were also very helpful and ensured we were successful in our endeavors. After cooking, cleaning and eating the fruits of our labors, we headed back to the city and when we could manage to stuff more food down, went out to local establishments to try the Sichuan fare we wanted most to explore. For me, it was trying to find street food: Dan Dan Noodles, Zhong’s Pork Dumplings in a spicy-sweet sauce that brings tears to your eyes, Ma Po Tofu.  Some nights, we’d all just go back to our rooms and collapse or head out to find a drink. It was magical.

Practicing Garnishing the Plates

I have a lot to share about this trip, and will go into it more as I explore and duplicate more of the recipes at home, but for now let me tell you about the Gong Bao Chicken. This dish is a classic, and one which every restaurant does differently. In the Seattle area where we have a variety of Sichuan options, my favorite comes from a restaurant called Spicy Talk. Their version is very similar to this one: It’s spicy with dried chiles, has the aforementioned mouth-numbing zing of Sichuan peppercorns, and is stir fried with crunchy roasted peanuts and silky bites of chicken “velveted” in a cornstarch mixture with cooking wine, vinegar and a hint of sugar added at the end to pull the flavors together. This chicken recipe will (hopefully) rock your world like it has mine. If you’d like more information about the cooking program, check out their website or mail me and I’m happy to tell you more. It’s the best money I’ve ever spent!

Gongbao Diced Chicken (Chicken with Peanuts) 宫保鸡丁

Ingredients:

7 ounces (200g) Chicken (leg and thigh meat, preferably)

4 1⁄2 tablespoons (40g) Crispy peanuts (roasted)

2 dry chilis (10g) Dried chili - chopped into 3”-long pieces

(add more chili if you prefer it hotter)

2 teaspoons (4g) Sichuan pepper

1 1⁄2 tablespoons (8g) Ginger, - chopped

1 1⁄2 tablespoons (10g) Garlic - chopped

1 scallion (15g) - chopped finely

4 tablespoons (60g) Cooking oil

Spices A: - coating

Pinch (0.5g) Salt

2 teaspoons (5g) Shaoxing Cooking wine

1⁄2 teaspoon (3g) Soy sauce

1 tablespoon (10g) mixture of water and corn starch

Spices B: - thickening sauce

1/8 teaspoon (1g) Salt

1 teaspoon (5g) Shaoxing Cooking wine

1 teaspoon (7g) Soy sauce

2 teaspoons (10g) Black Vinegar

2 teaspoons (10g) Sugar

Pinch (1g) MSG

1 tablespoon (15g) Mixture of water and corn starch

4 teaspoons (20g) Stock

 Preparation:

1. Prepare Spices A

2. Dice chicken into 1.5c cubes, (2/3” cubes) and blend in Spices A and mix well to coat chicken.

3. Prepare Spices B to make thickening sauce.

4. Heat oil in a wok to 140 degrees Centigrade (285 degrees Fahrenheit)
. Add dried chili chunks and Sichuan peppercorn, and stir-fry until aromatic (chiles will become bright red), about 20 seconds. 
Drain and remove.

5. Add a small amount of oil to the wok and add the diced chicken, stir-fry until al dente, about 1 minute. Add ginger slices, garlic slices, chopped scallion and after about 30 seconds add Spices B, the thickening sauce. Cook until chicken has lost its raw color. 
Add crispy peanuts when the sauce is thick and luscious, and season to taste with a little additional vinegar. Mix evenly and then transfer to a serving dish.

Features: brownish and reddish color; tender chicken; crispy peanuts; a rich medley of sour, sweet, salty and zingy tastes pepped up with Sichuan pepper and chili

History: The dish was originally made for Ding Baozhen, the governor of Sichuan during the Qing Dynasty, whose official title is “Gongbao”.

Recipe © Diane Drey, Modified and Reprinted with Permission.

Thursday
Sep062012

REC: Chinese Sizzling Cumin Lamb with Chile Pickled Long Beans

I love Chinese food. I don’t care if it’s Americanized Chinese General Tso (Hello—who doesn’t like that), fiery Hunanese cuisine (which we have to drive to Vancouver to get because there’s none to be found in Seattle), hot and numbing Sichuan fare—I love it all. The food I’ve had in China that was the most memorable, and that which I most wanted to imitate is Xinjiang style, specifically the food I’ve been lucky enough to try in Xi’an. We ate the SHIT out of that stuff.

With a strong Muslim influence, the foods in Xi’an are full of chiles, laced with Sichuan peppercorns, and you find a lot of goat and lamb. There is a street outside the mosque with the most amazing  and diverse street food I’ve ever eaten, and I looooves me some street food. I’ve been trying for years to imitate a snack I found there called Guo Kui (“Little Helmets”). A colleague forwarded me a recipe he found last week on a chinese website after listening to me bitch and moan about how there are no English recipes that seemed authentic to my taste memory of that food, and my friend Kairu pulled in her mother to help translate. Stay tuned on that one…we’re giving it a test run this weekend.

While researching Sichuan recipes in my fervor around a trip I’m taking to cook at the Sichuan Culinary Institute next month, I came across this recipe from Danny Bowien of Mission Chinese Food in San Francisco. Bowien is a rock star, and the food he puts out has a cult following. Reading the ingredients on this recipe, I had to give it a try. Let me tell you: It. Is. Spectacular. This is the flavor I remember from trips to china, and specifically the couple of times I’ve been in Xi’an. The gaminess of the lamb, a rich meaty broth, thick noodles and that gorgeous marriage of chiles, cumin, and Sichuan pepper. We went insane for this soup. You will too.

A couple of quick modifications: I added Sichuan peppercorns to this recipe, because I love their addition to this mixture and they are key to my memory of similar dishes. Second, I substituted in my favorite Udon noodles because they’re just amazingly delicious in soups. Other than that, I stuck with the program.

Oh, one more thing…the photo. I was lucky enough to spend yesterday afternoon with my friends Becky Selengut (and her disgusting “I camped all weekend with the lesberati” dirty feet) and the supremely talented photo goddess Clare Barboza. Becky and I had arranged with Clare to have a private photo lesson to teach us how to use the “big boy cameras” we bought last year. We love the photos we manage to get using these cameras, but neither of us know what the hell we’re doing. (Ok, she has more of a clue than I do, but that’s a REALLY low bar). We brought fruit, nuts and some cheeses to use as practice subject but I thought, “Fuck that…if I’m going to be with the pros, I’m bringing something I actually want to put on my blog”. I brought the soup components and Clare helped style and set up the shot, and stepped me through modifying the elements on the table and with the camera to create the darker, moodier type of photo that typically draws me in. Thank you, Clare!

Danny Bowien use lamb breast or lamb belly, sometimes even lamb ribs, but lamb shoulder works just as well. (Note from Marc: I used shank and then added the bones to the stock during the braising process to pull out every ounce of lamby goodness).

Chinese Sizzling Cumin Lamb with Chile Pickled Long Beans

4–6 SERVINGS

MODIFIED FROM RECIPE BY Danny Bowien Of Mission Chinese Food In San Francisco, Ca

Bon Appetit, MAY 2012

INGREDIENTS

LAMB

•          1 cup cumin seeds, toasted

•          1/2 cup coriander seeds, toasted

•          1/2 cup fennel seed, toasted

•          3 tablespoons kosher salt

•          1 tablespoon (packed) light brown sugar

•          3 tablespoons fish sauce (nam pla or nuoc nam)

•          1 tablespoon sesame oil (not toasted)

•          4 pounds lamb shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes

•          1/4 cup vegetable oil

•          1 1/2 cups beer (Budweiser or any other pilsner works well)

•          4 cups beef or low-salt chicken broth

•          1 1/2 cups cola

•          1/4 cup soy sauce

•          1 yellow onion, burnt over an open flame, finely chopped

•          2 jalapeños, burnt over an open flame, finely chopped with seeds

•          2 fresh bay leaves

•          1 garlic clove, smashed

•          ¼ cup Sichuan peppercorns, lightly toasted in a hot, dry pan

ASSEMBLY

•          1/2 tablespoon olive oil plus more for brushing

•          Kosher salt

•          1 onion, thinly sliced

•          3 red jalapeños, thinly sliced with seeds

•          1 pound ramen noodles (Note from Marc: I used udon noodles)

•          1 bunch cilantro, tough stems removed

•          3 scallions, thinly sliced

•          2 tablespoons black vinegar

•          1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

•          1 green jalapeño, thinly sliced with seeds

•          Chili Pickled Long Beans (recipe below)

PREPARATION

LAMB

Pulse cumin, coriander, and fennel in a food processor until you have a rough grind. Combine half of spice mixture, salt, sugar, fish sauce, and sesame oil in a medium bowl; add lamb and toss to coat (reserve remaining spice mixture). Let lamb marinate at room temperature for at least 2 hours and up to 4 hours.

Heat 1/4 cup vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium heat. Working in batches, cook meat until brown, about 4 minutes per batch; transfer meat to a platter. Add beer; stir, scraping up browned bits from the bottom of pan. Simmer until liquid is reduced by a third, about 4 minutes. Return lamb to pot; add broth and next 7 ingredients. Bring to a simmer and cook, covered and stirring occasionally, until meat is very tender, 2–3 hours. Using a slotted spoon, transfer lamb to a baking sheet; reserve. Skim fat from braising liquid.

ASSEMBLY

Heat a griddle or large cast-iron skillet until it is very hot. Pat lamb pieces dry. Brush with oil and season with some of reserved spice mix. Working in batches, cook lamb, turning occasionally, until smoky and fragrant but not burnt, about 3 minutes per batch. Transfer lamb to a large bowl. Toss onion and red jalapeños in a bowl with 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil. Add to griddle and cook until softened and charred in spots, about 3 minutes; add to bowl with lamb.

Bring lamb braising liquid to a simmer. Add noodles, simmer until just tender, about 1 minute. Add reserved meat, onions, and jalapeños.

Combine cilantro, scallions, vinegar, sesame seeds, ane green jalapeño in a large bowl. Season to taste with some of remaining spice mix; toss to coat. Divide lamb mixture among bowls. Top with the cilantro mixture. Serve Chili Pickled Long Beans on the side.

Chili Pickled Long Beans

MAKES 1 QUART

RECIPE BY Danny Bowien Of Mission Chinese Food In San Francisco, Ca

Bon Appetit, MAY 2012

INGREDIENTS

•          1 garlic clove, minced

•          2 cups soy sauce

•          1 cup black vinegar

•          1 tablespoon fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)

•          1 fresh red Thai chile, thinly sliced with seeds

•          1 red fresno pepper or jalapeño chile, thinly sliced with seeds

•          1 jalapeño, thinly sliced with seeds

•          1 12-ounce bunch Chinese long beans, cut into 1/4-inch rounds (4 cups)

PREPARATION

Combine garlic, soy, vinegar, fish sauce, and chiles in a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer; add long beans. Remove from heat, cover, and let cool completely.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 week ahead. Transfer to a container, cover, and chill.