Friday, October 14, 2011

Asian & Moroccan-Inspired Lamb Potstickers



UPDATE: Click here to vote for your favorite Lamb recipe in the American Lamb Pro Am. And please vote for me!

Confession: I have never cooked with lamb. I’ve had lamb, but only on a rare occasion. This could have to do with my upbringing. Lamb is rarely part of Cantonese cuisine. And according to Chinese superstition, eating lamb while pregnant was said to cause your unborn child to have acne or worse, epilepsy. It was also believed using glue while pregnant will bring about a difficult labor. But I digress. I’ve never purchased lamb or made a lamb dish for my family. Ever. Until this week.


American Lamb Pro-Am
I’ve been invited to compete in the American Lamb Pro-Am, in which 10 local food bloggers will compete by creating an original American Lamb recipe and blogging about it. Readers will vote for their favorite recipe/post, with the top four vote getters moving on to round 2. The final four bloggers will each be paired with a local top chef to collaborate on their dish and serve it to 100 attendees at the American Lamb Pro-Am event for a chance to be crowned winner of the American Lamb Pro-Am.

This was my chance to debunk those crazy Chinese myths and create a unique lamb dish that my whole family would enjoy.

This lamb is your lamb. This lamb is my lamb.
I decided to take a quintessential Chinese dish and lamb-o-size it. I wanted to make traditional potstickers but prepare them two ways  - Asian and Moroccan style lamb potstickers. But first I had to prepare the lamb.

Step 1: Butcher
Having never cooked with lamb before, I did some research on leg of lamb (the cut we were given). It is a versatile cut and is very tender and flavorful. Since I needed ground lamb, butchering was going to be fairly straightforward. I first had to remove the fell – an impermeable layer between the skin and fat layer.
 
Next, I chopped the lamb into 1-inch cubes for grinding.


Then the fun part: put the lamb through the meat grinder. I used a food grinder attachment for my trusty KitchenAid mixer and ground the lamb twice through the meat grinder. 


Step 2: Prepare the filling


First I wanted to create a traditional Chinese potsticker, the kind I grew up eating and the kind my kids inhale. The mixture includes a typical mélange of Chinese ingredients: scallions, ginger, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, rice wine, sugar, egg, pepper and cornstarch. I added napa cabbage for added moisture and extra texture.

For the Moroccan potstickers, I wanted to pay homage to the traditional flavor pairings of lamb and spices. I created a “Moroccan” spice mixture consisting of garlic, ground coriander, pepper, cumin, fennel, cinnamon, paprika and salt. I added onions, scallions, napa cabbage and raisins for added moisture and texture.

The kitchen smelled like a bazaar straight from the Silk Road.


Step 3: Assembly


Due to time constraints, I used store-bought dumpling wrappers (time savers for those families looking for a quick weeknight meal!). My oldest was more than eager to employ his little fingers to the task. This quite honestly was my favorite part of the challenge. 


Step 4: Pan-Fry
You can cook the potstickers by steaming, boiling or pan-frying. I prefer pan-frying for the crispy bottoms and overall pot stickiness. Check out the recipes below for directions.

 

Step 5: Dip and enjoy
I complimented these with two different dipping sauces – a traditional Turkish butter sauce with paprika and hot sauce and a soy and rice vinegar sauce. 

 

Lambtastic!
My early memories of my first taste of lamb was that it was gamey and greasy. These little pockets of deliciousness was everything but. My boys loved the Asian-inspired potstickers best. There is just the right amount of sweet lamb flavor but was at times overpowered by the soy and vinegar sauce.

Umdaddy and I were big fans of the Moroccan-inspired dumplings. The Moroccan spices complemented the sweet lamb taste perfectly. And the raisins gave the filling an extra sweet, juicy bite. The butter sauce provided them with an extra savory, sweet and smokey pairing. This was finished with a clean refreshing taste of mint, which I used as garnish. Awesome.

Thanks BostonChefs.com and American Lamb Board. I am now a fan of the lamb!


Asian-Inspired Lamb Potstickers Recipe
(Makes about 44 dumplings)

INGREDIENTS

Potsticker Filling
  • 2 teaspoons Shaoxing
  • 1/4 head of napa cabbage, roughly chopped
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 3 scallions (green parts only), thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • Store-bought dumpling wrappers

Dipping Sauce
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha
  • 1 scallion (green part only), thinly sliced on the diagonal

DIRECTIONS


  1. In a large bowl, combine all filling ingredients. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.
  2. Place 1 tablespoon of filling in each dumpling wrapper, wet the edge with water, fold over, pressing firmly to seal.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat . When hot, add as many dumplings as will fit and cook for 1 minute. Add enough cold water to cover the dumplings half way, cover and reduce heat to medium. Cover and cook until liquid is evaporated and bottoms of dumplings are crisp and golden, about 10 minutes.
  4. Repeat with remaining dumplings.
  5. While dumplings are cooking make the sauce by combining all ingredients in a medium bowl.


Moroccan-Inspired Lamb Potstickers Recipe
(Makes about 44 dumplings)

INGREDIENTS

Moroccan-Inspired Filling

  • 2 pounds ground lamb
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 medium onion
  • 1 bunch scallions, washed and finely chopped
  • A few leaves of washed napa cabbage
  • 2 teaspoons Shaoxing rice wine
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1 ½ teaspoon Moroccan spice mixture (see below)
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • Store-bought dumpling wrappers
  • Fresh mint, shredded, for garnish

Moroccan Spice Mix
(makes about 1/4 cup)


  • 1 tbs minced garlic
  • ½ tbs ground coriander
  • ½ tbs ground black pepper
  • ½ tbs cumin
  • ½ tbs ground fennel seed
  • ¼ tbs cinnamon
  • ¼ tbs paprika
  • ¼ kosher salt


Dipping sauce


  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine quality sweet paprika
  • coarse salt to taste
  • 4 dashes of hot red pepper sauce, or more to taste


DIRECTIONS:


  1. Parboil half an onion for one to two minutes, until the layers of the onion have just turned translucent but are not soggy. Let cool; then finely chop.
  2. Parboil a few leaves of Napa cabbage for thirty seconds to one minute, until the vegetables are slightly softened but not yet translucent. Finely chop.
  3. Follow directions 1-4 above in Asian-inspired potstickers recipe
  4. While dumplings are cooking make the sauce: In a small skillet over moderate heat cook the butter until it is a very light brown, remove the skillet from heat, and stir in the paprika, coarse salt to taste, and the hot red pepper sauce.



Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I was given the lamb courtesy of the American Lamb Board and BostonChefs.com. Opinions are my own.

8 comments:

  1. Thanks Kelly! Loved making it with the boys :)

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  2. I think I need these right now, they look amazing!

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  3. OK, this post made me feel like I can make it. I never thought I could before! (love those cutie-pie chop sticks too!) The blog is awesome!

    Amy

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  4. Thanks all for the positive feedback! Amy - you can definitely make these. They are surprisingly easy to make. My boys eat almost everything with those chopsticks BTW. They are by edison in case you want to get them online :)

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