Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Cumin Crusted Lamb and Cashew Cauliflower

I have this habit of refusing to remember that the concept of marination is involved in cooking.  I read recipes ahead of time, comprehend the words "marinate over night" then selectively erase that phrase from my memory.  Then when the night comes that I want to make that recipe it's as if evil elves have come in and rearranged the world since the last time I looked at the recipe and malevolently invented the word "marinate" just to torture me.  Well at least that's how it feels when I'm looking forward to something for dinner and see that horrible world and realize that not only do I have to make new plans for dinner I also have to prep a part of tomorrow's dinner.  And darn it at that point I just want to eat.

I mean I'll follow some pretty crazy cooking instructions with no problem but marinating things just irks me every time, I never learn.  Twice last week this happened to me as if I was trying to subliminally teach myself a lesson by planning to eat two recipes with one of my least favorite words in it.  This recipe for cumin crusted lamb was totally worth eating dinner late while waiting for the meat to get all sticky and soft in the egg white and saki.  The meal was amazing and the chemistry of the marinade really did something wonderful to the texture of the lamb so that I would be more than happy to eat this again.  The slightly spicy cashew cauliflower only made the meal better.

However the spicy chicken thighs I had planned for tricked me two nights in a row.  So I added "marinating" to the list of things I'm leaving to the fella from now on since I'm apparently unable to grasp the concept.  He was more than happy to prep the chicken and really loved the end result.  I don't know if it was because I was still holding a grudge against that recipe for making me have to re-plan dinner or if the recipe wasn't just for me but I wasn't a fan.

So there you have it of all of the things I can do I'm stymied by the idea of putting meat in tasty liquid over night to make it even more tasty.  How sad is that?  I maintain that all recipes that have a marination step should start out with "warning marination ahead" in big bold letter before the ingredient list just to prevent these sort of cooking failures from happening.  Who is with  me?

Cumin Crusted Lamb

1 egg white
1 tablespoon rice wine or saki
2 teaspoons rice flour
1 teaspoon salt, more to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound boneless leg of lamb or lamb shoulder, cut into strips about 1/2 inch by 2 inches

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons cumin seeds, lightly cracked in a mortar or grinder
2 tablespoons whole dried red chili peppers
4 scallions, white and green parts only, cut on diagonal into 1-inch lengths
Sesame oil, for seasoning.

In a deep medium sized bowl combine egg white, wine, rice flour, salt and pepper. Add lamb and set aside to MARINATE 1 HOUR. 

Heat a large skillet (non stick works best) over high heat until a drop of water sizzle on contact. Swirl half the oil into pan and carefully add lamb, spreading it in a single layer. Let sear a moment, then stir-fry briskly just until lamb is no longer pink on the outside. Transfer to a plate. 

Swirl remaining oil into empty pan, add cumin seeds and chilies and stir-fry a few seconds until cumin seeds start to pop. 

Add scallions and stir-fry 1 minute. Then return lamb to pan and stir-fry 1 to 2 minutes more until lamb is cooked through. Turn off heat, sprinkle with salt and drops of sesame oil, and serve immediately.

Cashew Cauliflower

2 tablespoons oil
1 shallot, diced
1 medium head cauliflower, cut in florets
1 star anise
2 dried red chilies
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup of water
1/2 cup cashews

Place oil in large frying pan over medium low heat.  Cook shallot in oil until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes.  Add cauliflower and raise heat to medium high to brown the cauliflower.  When the cauliflower has some color to it and is just starting to get tender, add the star anise, chilies, and salt and pepper.  Stir fry ingredients for another minute.  

Add water to the pan, turn heat back to medium low and cover.  Cook for about 10 minutes or until cauliflower is tender.

Remove cover from cauliflower and add cashews to pan until they're toasted, raising heat if necessary.  Remove star anise and chilies to serve.


Monsignor Scott Rassbach said...

YAY! I am the director in charge of Marination!

F. Fiori said...

Oh, man. I am SO 100% with you on this. I can't marinate. I just can't. Your strategy of appointing a Marination Captain is much better than mine (of simply refusing to acknowledge that I was supposed to marinate anything, and going forward with the recipe as if nothing was wrong.)

I need this warning label, universe! Do you hear me?

Emily said...

I am so glad I'm not the only competent cook with this problem.

Obviously we should start a petition to recipe writers of the world that this warning label needs to exist or else...

janet said...

hi! i really like your blog, because it is a daily inspiration for me.

but why do you always put on pictures that just don't look good? don't get me wrong: i am sure the food is delicious, but on the pictures it just looks a mess.

Emily said...

Janet I'm glad to be an inspiration.

If you'd like to come over and photograph the food in low light with a bad camera after having spent an hour cooking dinner please feel free. I do the best I can with what I have without getting paid. Perhaps I should put up an "Emily needs a better camera fund."

Susan Collins said...

I don't have a love/hate relationship with marinating. I despise it. It seems to me that in most cases the meat plus the marinade comes to less than the sum of the parts. The meat no longer tastes like quality meat, and the marinade ends up diluted tasting.