This dish is another happy marriage. Australians love sang choi bao – it’s a classic suburban Chinese restaurant dish that everyone grew up eating. And what better to pair it with than lamb, Australia’s favourite protein. Eggplant works really well with lamb, so this dish is just a combination of best mates. Prepare to marinate the lamb a day ahead.
Eggplant nahm prik
- 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) large eggplants
- 1 pickled jalapeño pepper, roughly chopped
- 10 coriander roots, washed
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- 15 g (½ oz) small long red chillies, roughly chopped
- 50 g (1¾ oz) white miso paste
- 5 g (1⁄8 oz) bonito flakes
- 1 lime, juiced
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled
- 250 g (9 oz) fermented tofu (fuyu)
- 3½ tbsp Knorr liquid seasoning (see Note)
- 150 ml (5 fl oz) Shaoxing wine
- 2½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) boneless lamb leg, all sinew removed, diced into 1 cm (½ inch) pieces
- vegetable oil, for frying
- kernels from 4 cobs of corn
- 1 bunch garlic chives, snipped into 5 mm (¼ inch) lengths
- 150 g (5½ oz) unsalted roasted peanuts
- 100 ml (3½ fl oz) maple syrup
- 100 g (3½ oz) Lao Gan Ma chilli oil (with peanuts, see Note)
- baby cos (romaine) lettuce leaves, to serve
- sprigs of coriander, mint, Vietnamese mint and baby shiso leaves, to garnish
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
You may need to begin this recipe one day prior.
Marinating time at least 2 hours or overnight
To make the eggplant nahm prik, roast the eggplants over an open flame (a gas hob works well) until the skin is nicely charred all over and the flesh is soft.
Transfer them (blistered skin and all) to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to steam them for 20 minutes. When they are cool enough to handle, carefully remove and discard the charred skin.
Put the flesh into the bowl of a food processor and blend along with the rest of the ingredients. Taste it. It should be sour, salty and smoky. Adjust the seasoning to your taste with more lime or fish sauce if necessary.
To make the marinade, blend all the ingredients (except the lamb) in a food processor until a smooth paste forms. Transfer to a bowl, add the lamb and toss well to coat. Marinate overnight in the fridge, covered, or for at least 2 hours.
Then add a little oil to a hot wok over a high heat. Start by frying the lamb in batches. Be sure not to overcrowd the wok, otherwise you’ll end up with stewed meat rather than nicely caramelised pieces.
Fry each batch for 3–4 minutes, until three-quarters cooked. Once you’ve stir-fried all the lamb, return it to the wok and add the corn, garlic chives and peanuts and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the maple syrup and reduce the liquid in the wok by half. Finally, add the chilli sauce and cook for a further 1 minute.
Serve the lamb in a bowl, with the lettuce cups, herbs and eggplant on the side. Help yourselves!
• Knorr liquid seasoning and Lao Gan Ma chilli oil are available from most Asian grocers.
Recipe and image from Mr Hong by Dan Hong (Murdoch Books) $49.99 available now.
Watch Dan Hong in SBS's brand-new series The Chefs' Line which premieres 6pm, Monday April 3 on SBS.