Anyone who wants to know why I cook so many regions just needs to look in my pantry and in my spice drawer. Being able to go from Ashkenazi to Persian, then Chinese, to German, and on and on keeps the meals as well as the preparation interesting and exciting. So when I came across a recipe that called for Jujubes I didn’t know what to make of it but knew I had to try it out. So this weekend I was excited to have a go at Kian Lam Kho’s Braised Lamb with Jujubes from Phoenix Claws and Jade Trees.
The first issue was finding Jujubes. When I saw the name I knew it couldn’t be the confectionary but I had never heard of such a fruit. My husband and I headed to the Asian Food Store we love to shop at and asked the owner. He told us occasionally gets fresh ones but for this time of year we had to go with the dried ones. For anyone, including myself, who don’t or doesn’t know what a jujube is, it’s hard to describe but it’s something in the neighborhood of raisins and dates and about the size of your thumb. Once I knew this I was a bit less stressed about what I was getting myself in for.
When getting on to making this dish I was happy to find it was fairly straightforward.
- 1 pound Lamb Shoulder or Leg, cut into 1 inch cubes
Place the lamb in a pot and over with water slowly to a simmer and skim any scum that comes to the surface. Simmer for 10 minutes. Drain off the water. Leaving the lamb in the the pot add:
- 16 fl ounce Lamb Stock
- 4 fl ounces White Rice Wine
- 2 tablespoons Soy Sauce
The recipe then calls for:
- 1 inch piece Fresh Ginger, smashed
- 1 (2-inch) square of Cassia Bark (it’s a cinnamon)
- 4 whole Star Anise
Rather than putting it straight in the liquid I chose to put them in a piece cheesecloth and tied it into a sack. This made it easy for me to remove once the braising was done. (I also wanted to mention the only cassia bark I could fine were small pieces so I had to guesstimate my “2 inch square”.) Then Add:
- 12 Jujubes
- 1 teaspoon Granulated Sugar
- ¼ teaspoon Ground White Pepper
Give it a gentle stir, bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, and cover. Simmer for 1 ½ hours. After the simmer remove the lid, remove the spice bag. In a small bowl add:
- 1 teaspoon Tapioca Starch
- 2 tablespoons Water
Stir into a slurry. Then add to braising liquid and stir until the liquid thickens. The recipe says, 1 minute. It took me maybe 3-5 minutes.
What’s interesting is that this dish smells amazing when it’s cooking. It’s almost to the point of over powering but when you take that first bite and taste the lamb with cinnamon, star anise, and jujubes it’s a deep dark spicy dish but surprisingly subtle and more aromatic that sitting heavy on your tastebuds. This is definitely a recipe I will do again.