Lamb Coconut Curry with Cider
Lamb too gamey for you? Cook it with lots of spices to play down the gaminess while enhancing the natural flavor of the meat. Lamb coconut curry with cider is an illustration of that technique.
- 2 lamb shanks about 1 kilogram total weight
- cooking oil for deep frying
- 3 tablespoons curry powder yellow, green or red will all work; you may also use curry paste
- 2 pairs kaffir lime leaves deveined and thinly sliced
- 4 cloves garlic peeled and lightly pounded
- 2 star anise
- 1 bottle cider I used Strongbow
- 2 cups coconut milk
- fish sauce to taste
- 1 cup coconut cream
- cilantro (leaves only) to garnish
- mint (leaves only) to garnish
- Rinse the lamb shanks then pat dry with paper towels.
- Heat enough cooking oil to reach a depth of at least three inches in a large wok or frying pan.
- Carefully slide the lamb shanks into the hot oil. Cook over high heat until browned. If the shanks are not completely submerged in oil, flip them over for even browning.
- Scoop out the lamb shanks and set aside.
- Pour off the oil from the pan, leaving only about a tablespoonful.
- Throw in the curry pwder, kaffir lime leaves, garlic and star anise. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until aromatic.
- Put the lamb shanks back in the pan. Pour in the cider. Allow to boil uncovered for a few minutes.
- Pour in the coconut milk. Season with fish sauce. Cover the pan tightly and set the heat to low.
- Braise the lamb shanks for an hour or longer, flipping them halfway through the cooking, until the meat is tender. Taste the sauce once in a while and add more fish sauce, if needed.
- When the lamb shanks are done, pour in the coconut cream to thicken the sauce. Swirl the pan around to blend evenly. When the sauce simmers, turn off the heat.
- Taste the sauce one last time and add fish sauce, if necessary.
Cider, an alcoholic beverage made from fermented apples, gives the dish a wonderful aroma and a tartness that blends beautifully with the sweetness of coconut milk and cream. Star anise gives the lamb curry a lovely earthiness while kaffir lime leaves add citrusy notes. So much depth, so much richness. Definitely worth considering as part of any special occasion menu. You may serve the lamb shank curry with coconut sauce over rice sprinkled with cilantro and mint. Or, you may place the lamb shanks in a serving bowl with the sauce, and rice on the side.
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