Friday, 13 February 2015

Hot dang! Northern China lamb & aubergine skewers with spiced buttermilk dressing

Just because its been snowing outside and your bones are shivering to an ill planned tap dance mess, doesn't mean we should say no to all the things that remind you of summer. There is nothing better than toasting yourself under a giant rug with a tub of ice cream (thank god we're over January and all the promise of healthy eating) when its freezing outside, or, when I'm out in HK, cooling down with a sweet condensed milk hot tea. Barbecues and grilling also works to this rule - it shouldn't just be synonymous with summer BBQ's and rooftop parties (ha, like I actually go to rooftop parties). 

Northern China's cuisine is amazing. Full of flavour and spice, it sometimes borders on the spice palates of middle eastern dishes and aromas. These lamb skewers are perfect for a winter salad or with a shovel sized portion of saucy noodles. For now, I've put this dish with a buttermilk ranch to give it a smack of cooling freshness to the spice of the lamb. I've been trying to cut down on carbs recently (a phase, I'm sure) so actually the skewers were alternated with aubergine to give a bit more variety and so you can actually just eat these as is and without a bowl of rice (a phase, let me repeat). 

The secret to this is in the marinating and the cut of meat you choose. The longer the marinate time, the better. The fattier the meat, the better. In some restaurants, skewers of lamb are alternated with chunks of fat that melt in your mouth. As much as that appeals, it sort of cancels out being any kind of good with the no carbs thing... but if you use lamb shoulder, it's a nice in between. In Hong Kong, lamb is a real treat - it's not used much in cooking as its not readily available, unless you're willing to fork out for some New Zealand expensive exports. So, something a little different out the normal HK diner repertoire for you all.
This week I've been out in Morzine skiing - wonderful snow and my one week of heavenly cheese and big dinners wonderfully cooked by chalet hosts Dot and Chris from Mountain Spaces. Their skill in cooking for 15 idiots a hot breakkie, afternoon cake and then a 4 course meal every day was astounding. I'm still salivating over the thought of the chocolate cake, confit de canard and the mountain of dauphinoise the group inhaled (not to mention unlimited wines). One night there were Asian chicken skewers...and I had to admit, I was a little doubtful I'd put my judgemental Asian food blogger hat on..but it was amazing. And it made me remember I had never written this bad boy recipe up for lamb skewers. It must be done!