Food hopping in NYC is one of our favorite things to do. One spot we never fail to miss is Cafe China in Manhattan. I first came across this place while watching Unique Eats on the cooking channel. They specialize is Sichuan cuisine, so its quite spicy that appeals to our tastebuds. I guess it's because my husband went in with low expectations thinking nowhere in America can you find the real spicy food. This blew him away, so much that he actually craves for it! Lol!
One of our favorite dishes is the spicy cumin lamb, apart from their dan dan noodles, chungkiang chicken and 3 pepper chicken. The lamb is personally my favorite. I also heard about Xian Famous foods being quite popular for their spicy lamb noodles, and spicy lamb burger. So on our anniversary this year, we stopped by to see if it was as good as Cafe China. Pretty spot on I gotta say!
Now that we've tried this thing in a couple of different places, I had to try and make it at home. I didn't have lamb on hand unfortunately, so used thinly sliced beef instead. I was amazed at how simple it was to make this dish. Now I gotta find me some lamb next time!
Ingredients:Beef - 1 lb.
Cumin seeds - 2 tbsp
Sichuan peppercorns - 1 tsp
Onion - 1, medium
Garlic - 2 tsp, minced
Green chillies - 3 small or one large bamana pepper - sliced thin
Scallions - 2 stalks, chopped (separate whites from green part)
Cilantro - handful, coarsely chopped (almost whole sprigs)
Chilli oil - 4 tbsp.
Salt - a pinch
Baking soda - 1 tsp
Tapioca starch or corn starch - 2 tbsp
Chinese 5 spice powder - 2 tsp
Cumin powder - 2 tsp
Chilli powder - 2 tsp
Hoisin sauce - 1 tbsp
Light soy sauce - 1 tbsp
Chingkiang vinegar (chinese black vinegar) - 1 tbsp
Shaoxing rice wine - 1 tsp
Method:Toast sichuan peppercorns (1 tsp) and cumin seeds (2 tbsp) in a pan on medium heat. Grind coarsely.
Cut beef in thin slices (bite size). Add salt, cooking oil, baking soda, tapioca starch, 5 spice powder, and cumin powder. Mix thoroughly.
Chop up some onion (large chunks), cilantro with stalks and scallions.
Mix hoisin sauce, soy sauce, chingkiang vinegar, shaoxing rice wine and a teaspoon of chilli oil in a bowl and keep aside.
Cook beef in chilli oil in a large wok on high heat. Set aside. Do not put all the beef in at once. I cooked small amounts in 5 batches, or the wok will cool down quickly and the beef with stew rather than sear and toughen up.
After taking out all the beef, coat surface of wok with oil and add green chilies, garlic, onion and chili powder.
Then add beef/lamb, cumin & sichuan peppercorns, and cilantro. Add sauce mixture. Stir fry for another 4 minutes till sauce is absorbed by the beef. Serve hot with steamed rice, noodles or even in a bun.