Sunday, 13 March 2011

Red-cooked lamb

My father used to say that the test of a good restaurant was in tasting a pre-prepared dish. Short-order cooking is one thing, but taking time to cook a dish in advance requires other skills. Red-cooked food is in this category, however it is wonderfully simple to make, whether it is meat, fish or veg.

This way of cooking results in meat that is sweet, pungent in the best way and tender enough to be eaten with chopsticks. There isn't a lot of sauce, but what there is pumps out flavour. It makes me think of that Greek dish, kleftiko.

Lamb is treated the same as beef or pork. The meat is sealed, then braised on a very low heat, and is basted every 20 minutes while cooking.


4-5 tbsp veg oil
1.35kg meat with some fat on, such as shank, belly, blade or rib
4-5 tbsp soya sauce
6-7 tbsp red wine or sherry
6-7 tbsp water
2 tsp sugar
large slice of ginger
two star anise
strip of orange peel (without pith) or a bouquet garni

set oven to 140 C/275 F/ Gas Mark 1

Don't trim the meat, leave on fat and skin.
Heat the oil in a casserole on medium heat, and add the meat, sealing it on all sides.
Turn heat down to very low and add half the soya sauce, half the wine, half the water and half the sugar. Stir the meat in the mixture a few times, put the lid on and transfer to the preheated oven.
Cook for 1 hour, basting every 20 minutes.
Add the rest of the ingredients and cook for another hour, basting every 20 minutes.

Serve with rice.

I like to eat it with stir-fried curried cabbage with coconut and lime.

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