Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Barbecued Mutton Chops & Sounding Radish Slivers

Asian has become a bit of a guiding theme this week. We had noodle soup Saturday night, stir fried noodles Monday and then a mini banquet Tuesday night for no reason in particular except that Chris had given me some little mutton loin chops to try and I found a recipe in Fuchsia Dunlop's book for an adaptation of lamb ribs and so it was serendipity. I was attracted to the loin chops because they were quite small and delicate looking but much darker in colour than lamb. I'm a fan of mutton slow roasted or in curries but know nothing of how to cook other cuts. I asked Chris and he said they should be okay to grill as they were fairly juicy. How right he was.

Marinating them for an hour or so tenderised the meat a little, then they were cooked on a very hot grill pan for a very short time to create juicy, spicy, intense little morsels on bones. Seriously good. The radish dish was also a new one - sounded interesting and it was a strongly contrasting texture to the meat. The whole lot served up with sea spice aubergine, for soft and delicate, and steamed basmati for background substance made for a great meal - if a little later than usual by the time it was all done. Cooking times are very short on all but the eggplant so it is do-able on a week night - if you have the will.

Barbecued Mutton Chops

2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tsp sweet bean sauce
2 tbsp shaoxing wine
1/4tsp five spice powder
8 mutton loin chops or neck-end lamb chops
6 spring onions, green parts only, finely sliced
1 bunch fresh coriander, chopped
ground cumin
dried chilli flakes
sesame oil

Combine the soy sauce, sweet bean sauce, Shaoxing wine and spice powder in a non-metallic bowl. and then apply to the chops with a little salt to taste. Mix well and leave to marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Heat a grill pan over a high flame until very hot. Add the chops and cook for 3-4 minutes then flip over and scatter generously with cumin and chilli flakes. Continue cooking for a further 2-3 minutes (2 minutes each side if you like your meat rare), then scatter with spring onion when nearly done.

Turn off the heat, sprinkle generously with a couple of teaspoons of sesame oil and scatter with coriander.

Sounding Radish Slivers

500g/1lb 2oz asian white radish (daikon)
1 fresh red chilli
2 spring onions, green parts only
1 tsp light soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp clear rice vinegar
1/4 tsp potato flour mixed with 2 tbsp cold water
1tsp sesame oil
3 tbsp groundnut oil or lard for cooking

Peel the radish and cut into 6cm/2 1/2 in sections. Cut each section first into very thin slices, and then into fine slivers (a mandolin will make it easier, give the details to the man and ask him to do it while you just have to go and update your blog is easiest). combine with 3/4 teaspoon salt, then set aside for 15 minutes or so.

Discard the stem and seeds of the chiili, and cut into fine slivers to match the radish. Cut the spring onion greens into similar slivers.

Before cooking, drain the radish slivers and squeeze dry; set aside.

Heat the wok over a high flame until smoke rises, then add oil or lard and swirl around. Add the chilli and sizzle for a few seconds before adding the radish slivers. Stir-fry vigorously for a couple of minutes, adding the soy sauce and salt to taste.

When the radish slivers are hot, add the spring onions and vinegar and stir well to combine. Then add the potato flour mixture to the midle of the wok, stirring rapidly as it thickens to a gloss. Finally, remove the wok from the heat, stir in the sesame oil and serve.

This poetically named dish refers to the crunchy sound the salted and barely cooked radish slivers make when you bite into them.

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