There are quite a few Muslim-Chinese restaurants in my hometown, and one dish they all do well is the Mongolian/Uighur-influenced cumin lamb. Although some people liken the aroma of cumin to b.o., I actually really enjoy the homey fragrance (of cumin).
-1 lb. strips of thinly-cut lamb (Marina Foods, an Asian supermarket, had it for $7.99/lb; they called it lamb sukiyaki, which is probably meant for hot pots)
-A few garlic cloves, diced
-1 yellow onion, diced
-3 or 4 scallions, diced
-Vegetable oil (I used canola)
-Ground cumin or cumin seeds
-2 Tbsp. soy sauce
-2 Tbsp. rice wine
-Red chili pepper, ground or whole
-Salt and freshly ground black pepper
First, toast the cumin seeds (or, in my case, ground cumin) in a pan for about 2-3 minutes. Then, mix it with the lamb, along with some red chili pepper, soy sauce and rice wine, and marinate for about 15 minutes.
Next, heat the garlic, onion and scallions in a pan with a thin layer of oil. Then, add the lamb mixture and stir fry over high heat. When the lamb is cooked, remove from heat and add salt and black and red chili pepper to taste. Serve with rice.
The ground cumin worked just fine, but toasting whole cumin seeds would likely have brought this dish to another level.
Friday, November 11, 2011: ate with some steamed baby bok choy over rice