What a week this has been.
Friday, like most of the U.S., I woke up to news about all the surreal events that took place overnight in Boston. And that the entire city and surrounding towns were in crisis mode, with streets practically empty. Most of the day was spent messaging my friends and family in MA, some of who lived near or even within the 20 blocks that were sealed off. In general everyone was calm, following updates closely on TV, not once questioning the necessity of the stay-at-home order. (I can hardly imagine if this were to happen in New York.)
As unprecedented as a citywide lockdown was, there was an underlying feeling that everyone was really united, trusting that it would all be over soon. And in the end, it was over that soon, with relief and applause and cheer spreading across the city by 9:30pm. Everything that the city and state managed to do in such a short period of time was, to put it simply, amazing.
And so, here is a recipe for spring, and new beginnings. Making this lamb and fava bean stir-fry on Saturday was such a calming activity after being on edge the day before.
Any time you prepare fava beans is a reminder that sometimes the best things take a little extra time. Delicious and meaty, fava beans (also called broad beans) are used in widely in Chinese cooking. One of the best dishes I ate in Beijing was a simple dish of fava beans and Yunnan goat cheese that I still remember to this day.
But preparing them is a little tricky; after you shell each pod, you need to quickly boil the beans and plunge them into ice water to loosen the outer white coating, and then remove the coating from each bean. It requires a little patience, but shelling fava beans was exactly what I wanted to Saturday afternoon.
After that, the stir-fry doesn't take long. The lamb is lightly coated in a delicious garlicky cumin sauce; having extra rice to serve is highly recommended.
It's a great dish to serve with your loved ones close by as you look forward to the beginning of a better week.
Lamb and Fava Bean Stir-fry
Serves 4 as part of a multi-course meal
- 1 pound fava beans
- 1 pound boneless leg of lamb or lamb loin, cut against the grain to 1/4-inch thick slices
- 2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons grated ginger
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- Prepare a bowl of ice water and set aside. Extract the fava beans from their pods. Boil one cup of water in a saucepan. Add the fava beans, cover, and steam for 30 to 60 seconds to expand the outer white casing. Drain into a colander and immediately plunge the beans in the ice water. Drain again. Now that the fava beans are cool enough to handle, remove the beans from their white casings.
- Marinate the lamb: In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, rice wine, and cornstarch and stir until the cornstarch is dissolved. In a large bowl, combine the lamb and the marinade and stir until the lamb is well-coated. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat the base. Add the lamb and stir-fry for 2 minutes, just until it changes color on both sides. Remove and set aside on a plate.
- In the same pan, add the scallions, garlic, and ginger and stir-fry for about 1 minute. Add the fava beans. Add the water and salt, cover with a lid, and allow the fava beans to steam for about 3 minutes, until tender and cooked through. Uncover and add the sauce mixture. Return the lamb to the wok and quickly stir to coat with the sauce. Transfer to a plate and serve.