Spicy Sichuan-Style Lamb with Cumin and Sichuan Eggplant Stir-Fry

When I think of Sichuan, I think of Dad. He loves the flavors, but can’t handle spiciness, and he has to mop the sweat off his forehead.

When I went back home recently, my family had discovered a great new Sichuan restaurant…good authentic Chinese is certainly lacking in my hometown. We judge Asian restaurants by the number of whites vs Asian customers…we were alarmed to see a number of white people, ordering egg rolls, fried rice, and crab rangoons that would make any Panda Express proud. But, to our delight, if you order from their traditinal Chinese menu, their Sichuan is awesome.

We ate there the first time on a weekday, then went back a few days later when my relatives visited, then they returned a third time less than a week later for a family friend’s birthday. By then, the lady knew us. My family then returned a fourth time for another event.

I think we’re subconsciously trying to make sure this little hole in the wall restaurant survives.

Anyways, I wanted to try make some dishes for myself, so here’s here are two great classic sichuan dishes to make. The both use green onions and cilantro, so it’s a easy way to use up those herbs (I always have trouble finishing them off before they go bad).

Spicy Sichuan-Style Lamb with Cumin

From Food and Wine

3 tablespoons canola oil
1-2 tablespoons ground cumin (to taste)
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon sugar
ground black pepper
1 lb thinly sliced lamb
1 white onion, chopped
scallions, thinly sliced and cilantro leaves, for garnish

In a large bowl, combine canola oil with the cumin, crushed red pepper, soy sauce, cornstarch, sesame oil, sugar and 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Add the lamb and onion and turn to coat. Marinate for 10 minutes.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet until very hot. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of canola oil and swirl to coat. Add the lamb and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 10 minutes. Stir in the scallions and cilantro. Serve with rice.

Sichuan Eggplant Stir-Fry
From Tyler Florence on Food Network.
asian eggplants, cut into 1 inch pieces
vegetable oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
ground black pepper
2 green onions, sliced
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 fresh red chile, sliced
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch (optional)
toasted sesame seeds and cilantro, for garnish

Heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high flame and add the oils. When you see a slight smoke, add a layer of eggplant, stir-fry until seared (you may need to add water to prevent burning). Season with pepper. Remove the eggplant to a side platter.

After all the eggplant is out of the pan, add the green onions, ginger, garlic, and chile; stir-fry for a minute until fragrant. Add 1/2 cup water, then add eggplant back into wok.

Add soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and cornstarch until the sugar and cornstarch are dissolved. Cook until the sauce has thickened and eggplant is done. Garnish with sesame seeds and cilantro and serve.

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