As many chefs will tell you, the first place they fell in love with food was in the family kitchen, and Dan Hong is a great example of that.
Timeless flavours and secret family tricks, make up Dan Hong's cooking DNA thanks to his mum Angie Hong, who is his first (and arguably most important) culinary teacher.
Growing up, Hong fondly remembers his mum putting her own Asian twist on traditional Aussie lamb chops. Despite feeding up to 6000 people a week in his Sydney restaurants Mr Wong and Ms G's, as well as being the executive chef at Merivale, it's these flavours which he keeps coming back to.
"I remember eating chops at my friend's house, simply seasoned with salt and pepper and served with overcooked green veg. While that was quite nice ... my mother would put her own spin on lamb, by marinating the chops Asian style and grilling them till the edges of the meat were dark and caramelised," he says.
"Lemongrass and ginger are hero ingredients for this lamb chop marinade, but my mother's secret ingredient is actually vegetable stock powder.
"This dumpling dish is based in a classic regional Chinese dish called Shepherd's purse dumplings. I used to go to Ashfield with my mum to eat these dumplings when I was young. Traditionally pork is used but the delicious flavour of lamb makes these a flavour explosion and suits the name much better."
Grilled marinated lamb chops
8-12 lamb cutlets
1 tbsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp Maggi liquid seasoning
1 tbsp vegetable stock powder
1 tbsp Chinese cooking wine
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 stalk lemongrass (white part only ,finely chopped)
Small knob ginger finely grated
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
Juice of half a lemon
Step one: Combine all ingredients of the marinade in a bowl and whisk till well combined. Pour marinade all over the lamb cutlets and using your hands (this is where gloves come in handy), massage the marinade into chops. Leave in the fridge to marinade for two to four hours or for more flavour, overnight.
Step two: Preheat the grill to high. Place lamb cutlets on a non-stick baking tray and place directly under grill. Alternatively, you could pan fry or even barbecue the chops. Cook until edges are dark and caramelised and lamb is about a medium doneness. This should take around 6 minutes depending on how thick the cutlets are.
Step three: Serve simply with some steamed white rice and a salad of cucumber, tomato and onion.
- Marinating your lamb not only helps to flavour the meat but also tenderises it. This is why a minimum of four hours is recommended.
- Make sure you remove the lamb from the fridge at least two hours before cooking to get to room temperature. This helps the lamb to cook more evenly.
- This recipe also suits other cuts like forequarter chops, loin chops and lamb leg steaks.
- With any leftover lamb, you could chop it up and make a simple lamb fried rice. You could also stir fry the sliced meat with some vegetables and serve in lettuce wraps sang Choi bao style.
Lamb dumplings with sesame sauce and chilli oil
Makes: 30 dumplings
500g lamb mince
30 gow gee wrappers
2 tbsp sesame oil
4 tsp salt
6 tsp sugar
2 cloves garlic finely grated
Small knob of ginger finely grated
1 jar of Lao Gan Ma crispy chilli oil with peanuts
300ml grapeseed oil
150g Chinese sesame paste or smooth peanut butter as substitute
120ml black vinegar
150ml light soy sauce
Green shallots (scallions) finely chopped
1 cucumber cut into julienne (discard seeds)
Step one: Wearing gloves and using your hands, marinade lamb mince in a bowl with sesame oil, salt, sugar, garlic and ginger.
Step two: To make the dumplings, moisten the edges of wrappers with a little water and then place about 2 teaspoons of marinated lamb in the middle. Bring edges up and seal tightly by pressing with fingers to seal. Store in a tray uncovered until ready to use.
Step three: For chilli oil, mix LCM with grapeseed oil and store in an airtight container.
Step four: For dressing, mix all ingredients with a whisk until well combined and store in airtight container.
Step five: Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Blanch dumplings in batches for about four to five minutes. Using a spider (soft touch wire strainer), carefully take dumplings out and place in a bowl about seven to eight dumplings per bowl. Spoon over about 5 tablespoons of sesame dressing over the dumplings, followed by 5 tablespoons of chilli oil. Garnish with julienne cucumber, scallions and coriander leaves
- You can make these dumplings up to three hours ahead of time.
- The dumplings freeze well! You can boil them from frozen, just double the cooking time.
- Leftover marinated lamb mince can be made into meatballs and grilled or even stir fried and served on top of some blanched noodles.
For more recipes go to australianlamb.com.au.