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A spectacular lamb shank dish from Australian chef, Kylie Kwong. There is little nicer than making this on a cold, wet, winter's day. The list of the ingredients for the spice paste seems endless, but if you have an electric spice grinder (I bought mine as a 'coffee' grinder), it is made quickly and easily. Only the very brave should attempt it with a mortar and pestle! Before you begin to cook, prepare all the ingredients and measure out all the spices.
- 8 small lamb shanks, about 4 pound in total (2kg)
- 1⁄4 teaspoon sea salt
- cracked white pepper
- olive oil, to brush roasting tin
- 3 vine-ripened tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 6 potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into wedges
- 5 spring onions, trimmed and cut into quarters
- 4 fresh dates, halved
- 4 fresh apricots, halved
- 6 bay leaves
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 2 limes, juice of
- 1 tablespoon asian fish sauce
For the spice paste
- 4 saffron strands
- 2 teaspoons boiling water
- 3 teaspoons fennel seeds
- 2 whole star anise
- 10 green cardamom pods
- 1⁄2 teaspoon cumin seed
- 1⁄2 cinnamon stick
- 1⁄2 teaspoon szechuan peppercorns
- 2 large red chilies, deseeded and roughly chopped
- 8 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 1⁄2 inches knob fresh gingerroot, sliced
- 1 ounce cilantro stems, and roots finely sliced (use extra stems and some leaves if you can't obtain cilantro roots)
- 1 ounce fresh turmeric, root finely sliced (OR 1 teaspoon ground turmeric powder)
- 3 ounces galangal, roughly chopped (optional)
- 1 -2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon white peppercorns
- 5 ounces shallots, finely sliced
- 1⁄4 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 8 ounces extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1⁄2 ounces palm sugar (or dark brown sugar)
- 2 ounces asian fish sauce
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C/gas 4.
- For the spice paste: Combine the saffron with the 2 teaspoons of boiling water, and leave to soak.
- Heat a small skillet over high heat, then dry-roast the fennel seeds, star anise, cardamom pods, cumin seeds, cinnamon and Sichuan peppercorns for about 2 minutes, or until fragrant. When the spices have cooled, remove the seeds from the cardamom pods, then place them with the dry-roasted seeds in an electric grinder, and grind until the mixture is finely ground. Set aside.
- In a suitable container, grind the chillies, garlic, ginger, cilantro stems and roots, turmeric and galangal with an electric stick-blender until you have a coarse paste. Lightly crush the peppercorns with a mortar and pestle or a heavy rolling pin, and add to the chilli/garlic mixture with the sea salt. Add the shallots, saffron strands with their soaking water, paprika, the reserved ground spices and the olive oil to this paste, and mix well to combine.
- Heat a heavy-based, medium-sized frying pan over high heat, then add the paste and cook, stirring regularly, for about 5 minutes or until fragrant. Reduce heat and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Add the palm sugar and fish sauce, increase the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for a further 2 minutes, or until mixture is slightly caramelised. Remove from stove and set aside.
- Brush a roasting tin with some olive oil and heat on the stove top. Season the lamb shanks with salt and white pepper, then add to the roasting pan and seal until lightly browned on all sides.
- Drain off any excess oil and increase the heat. Drizzle the prepared spice paste over lamb, and toss and stir the contents of the tin to ensure the shanks are well coated, and to seal in flavours. Add the tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, onions, dates, apricots and bay leaves, and stir to combine.
- Remove the tin from the stove, pour over stock and cover with foil. Bake for 45 minutes, then remove foil and bake for a further 1 hour, or until lamb is very tender and well browned.
- When the meat is done, drizzle with lime juice and fish sauce before serving.
- Serve with cous cous, rice or crusty bread and a large green salad.