I’m conscious that I haven’t posted much yet about what or how I cook – bit of an oversight, really. This was last night’s dinner – trimmed lamb chops marinated for a couple of hours, cooked in a grill pan and served in flatbread with mixed greens (the leftovers from my Choku Bai Jo shop ten days ago – still crisp and fresh), red chilli oil and a sesame sauce.
The marinade comprised a couple of cloves of minced garlic, finely chopped rosemary, a couple of teaspoons of cumin seeds and a couple of allspice that had been pounded in the mortar, the juice of half a lime and about the same volume of pomegranate molasses. The pomegranate/lamb/rosemary combination is from a Matthew Evans recipe that I clipped years ago. (There’s a report of his current doings just up at Elegant Sufficiency.)
I’ve been on a couple of those silent meditation retreats where they give you macrobiotic food, and I’ve flirted heavily with the wholefood and macro world in the past, so I know my way around a sesame paste dressing. But I really started to love sesame when I became interested in Middle Eastern cooking, and in particular the texture of sesame with the sweet/sour pomegranate. The Buddhists often pair sesame paste with umeboshi because it’s unfermented (ie, not a real vinegar) and otherwise suitable for a macrobiotic diet. In the past the tahini dressings or sauces I’ve made have tended to use umeboshi vinegar or lemon juice for tang and tamari for depth of flavour.
I have been cooking more and more Chinese food lately, and I realised just how much my cooking had shifted when I had no tahini so had to substitute with roasted sesame paste rather than the other way around. This led to me Fuchsia Dunlop’s Sichuan Cookery which I knew had a sesame sauce recipe, but it seemed a little plain, and in the view of Meg at Though Small, it is Tasty, it was too sesame-y. (The linked post features the recipe, along with a few other excellent Dunlop recipes.) In the end I combined a tablespoon of Chinese roasted sesame paste with the remaining lime juice and some finely chopped common mint and Italian parsley from the garden. (And wasn’t I surprised to find some beautiful newly budding mint – in autumn, after the frosts have started! – rather than the scraggly mess that’s been there for ages.) I used about two extra tablespoons of warm water from the kettle to loosen the sauce – I love the way that you can see sesame paste lighten and fluff up when you mix it with warm water or stock. Do stop fairly quickly though, or it will start to resemble grout.
Logistics-wise, in the ten minutes that the one year old was occupied with a train set in the afternoon I threw the marinade together, picked the herbs, chopped the greens and put them to soak. When it was time to eat, I dried the greens (yes, in a salad spinner!) while I grilled the lamb and put it all on the table. Yum, with the added bonus of bones for the teething one year old to gnaw.