One type of Chinese cooking rarely found in restaurants and almost unavailable to even the most dedicated Chinese food enthusiast is home-style cooking. Even guests in Chinese homes are served special foods reserved for company instead of the quickly cooked, simple dishes reserved for everyday meals.
A good example of home-style fare is this hot and spicy stir-fried lamb with green onions, which comes from my friend and Chinese food mentor, Jean Keh.
The entire dish can be cooked in three to four minutes. Preparation time--shortened with the aid of the food processor--also is very fast. Garlic and ginger are processed to minced consistency in about 15 seconds, and the work of turning three-inch lengths of green onions into slivers is accomplished in a moment.
Thin green onion slivers are made by slicing the bottoms of the green onions lengthwise with the thin (two-millimeter) slicing disc. Because the onions grow in concentric rings, slicing them along the grain causes the layers to separate.
To prepare the onions for processing, cut the bottoms into even lengths to fit sideways in the food chute. Slice using gentle pressure to avoid smashing. Since the green tops add color to the dish and do not slice especially well, they should be cut into pieces of equal length.
Ingredients such as dark (thick) soy sauce and Oriental sesame oil are critical to the flavor of the recipe. These are increasingly available in supermarket Oriental food sections and can be found in specialty food stores. HOT AND SPICY HOME-STYLE LAMB WITH GREEN ONIONS
2 teaspoons dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon Chinese red vinegar or distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon rice wine or dry Sherry
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 pound boneless leg of lamb, trimmed, partially frozen
8 green onions, roots removed
1-inch piece ginger root, peeled
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 cup oil
6 dried hot red peppers
Steamed or fried rice
Combine soy sauce, sugar, 1 teaspoon cornstarch, vinegar, wine, oil and salt in cup and set aside.
With sharp knife or cleaver, thinly slice lamb pieces across grain into thin 3-inch-long strips. Rub meat with remaining cornstarch and refrigerate until cooking time.
Insert thin (2-millimeter) slicing disc in food processor container. Cut green onion bottoms to fit sideways in food chute. Load sideways and slice into slivers with gentle push. Cut green tops to correspond with length of slivers and set aside. Change to metal blade. Process ginger and garlic until minced by dropping through food chute with machine running. Reserve near stove.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in wok or skillet. Add red peppers and cook until dark, about 30 seconds. Add lamb and stir-fry until cooked halfway through (some lamb will remain pink). Remove to heat-proof dish or bowl.
Heat remaining oil in wok. Add garlic and ginger. Stir-fry until garlic is fragrant and begins to lightly color, about 30 seconds. Add green onions and lamb, then toss to mix. Stir sauce quickly and add to wok. Stir-fry only until sauce is absorbed, about 30 seconds. Serve on heat-proof dish or platter with rice. Makes 4 servings.