Friday, January 15, 2016

41. Lamb and Shiitake Mushroom Tacos with Napa Cabbage Slaw and Crispy Shallots


I'm not really sure where this recipe came from.  I just wanted to make something . . . different.  And these are different - in a good way!

If there was any kind of inspiration for this, I'd have to say that it came from a vegetarian mu shu seitan recipe that I've made a few times.  The cookbook that the recipe comes from is a restaurant cookbook - a place called Cafe Flora in Seattle.  Interestingly enough, my dear sister now works at Cafe Flora.  Strange coincidence, right?

Anyway, it's been one of my favorite vegetarian cookbooks over the past few years.  Here's a link to Amazon if you want to check it out.  It's worth the price!

I've always served that mu shu seitan with flour tortillas.  I had an extra bag of flour tortillas that I wanted to use, and the mu shu seitan just popped into my head.  Somehow, my idea morphed into lamb and shiitake mushrooms.  And five-spice powder.  It's not like the mu shu seitan recipe at all!  Oh, well.

It is slightly Asian-inspired though - and served with flour tortillas!  Here's the recipe:

Lamb and Shiitake Mushroom Tacos with Napa Cabbage Slaw and Crispy Shallots

Serves 3 to 4 (about 10-12 tacos)


For the lamb-mushroom mixture:

2 tbsp. canola oil
1 lb. lamb stew meat
1/2 large sweet onion, chopped
1 tbsp. minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. Chinese five-spice powder
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 and 1/2 cups beef broth
1/2 cup sherry
A 5 oz. package of sliced shiitake mushrooms
3/4 tsp. salt

For the Napa cabbage slaw:

2 heaping cups thinly sliced Napa cabbage
1 medium carrot, grated
1 Fresno chile pepper, finely chopped
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 tsp. sugar
1 tbsp. rice vinegar
1 tbsp. canola oil
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the shallots:

1 and 1/2 cups thinly sliced shallots

1 and 1/2 tbsp. all purpose flour
A pinch or two of kosher salt
A pinch or two of cayenne pepper
Canola oil for frying

12 small flour tortillas


1.  Start the lamb:  If necessary, cut the lamb into smaller pieces.  (I cut mine into 1/2 inch pieces.)  Season with salt and pepper.  Heat the canola oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet.  Add the lamb and brown on all sides. about 3 or 4 minutes.

Transfer the lamb to a plate with a slotted spoon.

2.  Add the onions to the pan, lower the heat to medium low, and cook the onion until it is soft and somewhat browned, about 8 to 10 minutes.  Add the ginger, garlic, and five-spice powder and continue to cook until fragrant, about 2 to 3 minutes.  Add the flour and stir until it is incorporated into the mixture, which will be dry.  Add the beef broth and sherry, stirring with a whisk until the mixture is smooth.

Bring the mixture to a simmer.  Cook for a couple of minutes until the mixture thickens.  Add the mushrooms and salt.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushroom have released their juices and are cooked through, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Return to the lamb to the pan, cover, and simmer very gently for about 1 and 1/2 to 1 and 3/4 hours.  The lamb should be very tender.

3.  While the lamb is cooking, make the slaw:  Combine all of the slaw ingredients in a medium bowl.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Set aside.

4.  While the lamb is (still) cooking, fry the shallots:  Toss the sliced shallots with the flour, salt, and cayenne pepper.  Pour some canola oil in a small pot until a depth of 1 to 2 inches is reached.  (It will bubble up when you add the shallots, so make sure the pan is deep enough!)   Heat the oil to 375 degrees.  I check this with a laser thermometer.  Carefully add a small amount of the shallots and cook until golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes.  Remove the shallots with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.  Continue this process until all of the shallots are cooked.  I did mine in two batches.  

5.  When you are almost ready to serve the tacos, prepare the tortillas to your liking:  Heat the tortillas in a dry skillet over medium-high heat, one by one, until browned but still soft, about 30 seconds to 1 minute on each side.

As they are done, stack them on a sheet of foil.  When you have as many as you want, wrap in the foil and set aside.  You can keep them warm in a 200 degree oven if you wish.  Since this was basically my last step, I didn't need to do that.

6.  Assemble the tacos:  For each taco, place a tortilla on a plate.  Using a slotted spoon to avoid excess liquid, spoon some of the lamb and mushroom mixture down the center of the tortillas.  Top with some of the slaw.  Garnish with the fried shallots and enjoy!

I have one word to describe these tacos:  UMAMI.  These are savory, salty, umami goodness.  If that's what you're craving, you won't be disappointed.

I realize that the cooking time for the lamb is quite lengthy.  If you have the time for it, though, it's kind of a relaxing process.  There is some down time.  Have a beer.  Make the slaw.  Check Facebook.  :)

Frying the shallots is a bit messy, but that's the price you pay for fried-crispy-oniony deliciousness.

These are a little strange if you think of them as tacos, but it's a good kind of strange.  We both dug them.

Feel free to comment on this recipe!  Did you try them?  What did you think?  What should I make next?

Thanks for reading!

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