Lamb With Eggplant and Onions

It's no secret I’m a fan of lamb. That being said, it’s often not around because of either the price or it comes in massive legs that I never know what to do with. Apparently, a while back I had the foresight to buy one of those said massive legs on sale and cut it into pieces to use separately. I thought there were no more left, until one came bounding out in a freezer avalanche the other night and nearly clobbered me on the head. Finding lamb in the freezer, especially when it does not actually hit you in said avalanche, is kind of like rooting through your closet and discovering a purse or jeans you left twenty bucks in one night – what a great surprise!
I love this stir-fry of lamb (I’ve done beef in the past, which is also good here) and eggplant because I love both major components of it, and because their use here in the stir-fry is semi-Asian and semi-spicy. There’s no need to do anything annoying with the eggplants either: no skinning, no salting, and if you watch the pan carefully over the high heat relatively little oil used for a vegetable that can soak it up like a sponge, and so I think you get a much cleaner and more smoky eggplant flavor. The whole thing takes about forty-five minutes (minus time for the baking soda if you use it; I liked it here for tenderizing particularly because it was frozen and thawed meat), which will give you just enough time to make some brown rice for going with it. It makes what looks like a pile of food for one, but you’ll either have meals for a few days or find yourself sneaking cold pieces of the sauced eggplant from the fridge, which trust me is oh-so-tasty.

adapted from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Library: Stir-Fry

Baking soda (optional)
1 lb boneless leg of lamb, cut into small chunks or slices suitable for stir-frying
1 egg white
1 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp soy sauce
3 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
3 Tbsp hoisin sauce
2 Tbsp chili sauce with garlic
2 Tbsp broth or water
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 eggplants, total weight about 2 ¼ lbs give or take
2 small to medium onions
5 scallions
~ 5 Tbsp vegetable oil

Optional: Place the lamb slices in a bowl and cover with baking soda to cover. Toss and rub in the baking soda until all is lightly covered. Refrigerate for at least 15-20 minutes or up to a few hours. When ready to begin, carefully rinse all baking soda residue from the lamb in a strainer under cold running water and shake dry.

In a bowl, mix together the egg white, cornstarch and soy sauce to dissolve the cornstarch. Place the lamb in the bowl and turn to coat well with the mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.
In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix together the rice wine vinegar, hoisin sauce, chili sauce, broth and sesame oil.
While the lamb is marinating, rinse the eggplants and cut off either end. Split lengthwise and cut each half into sticks, each about 2-3 inches long and a ¼-inch thick. Set aside.
Peel the onions and cut lengthwise, then slice each half into thin half-moon slices. Set aside in a separate bowl. Cut off the ends of the scallions and then cut each into lengths of about 2 inches and set aside.
Heat 1-2 Tbsp vegetable oil in a large skillet, wok or frying pan over high heat. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add about half of the eggplant. Cook, tossing and turning every 20-30 seconds for about five minutes, until the eggplant is cooked all the way through. Remove to a large bowl and repeat with the second half of the eggplant, adding a bit more oil if needed.
Lower the heat to medium and add a scant Tbsp of oil. Add the onion slices and cook, tossing and turning so they don’t brown too much, until hot and still just a little crunchy, about five minutes. Add the scallion pieces and cook, turning, for another thirty seconds. Remove to the bowl with the eggplant.
Add 1 Tbsp of oil to the pan and increase the heat back to high. Add the lamb in their marinade to the hot pan, tossing in the oil so they don’t stick, and cook until browned on all sides, about five minutes. Lower the heat to medium-high. Quickly stir the reserved sauce and add to the pan. Add in the eggplant and onion mixture and mix together with the lamb and sauce, turning to coat. Cook, turning, for about 2-3 minutes until all is heated through and sauced. Serve hot.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oooh, I love lamb as well, though I rarely eat or cook it (no idea why, I should probably try and prepare it more often!). This looks like a quick and tasty way to try it :)

9:14 AM  
Blogger melinda said...

I was waiting and waiting for a new post - and then . . . 3! at once! It was like Christmas.

8:47 AM  
Blogger emily said...

Ellie - this is a great quick dish with lamb; I highly recommend it.

Min - I know, I've slacked off lately . . . perhaps we'll concoct something blog-worthy this weekend?

9:49 PM  

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