350 gmlamb fillet, trimmed and very thinly sliced 1 tbsplight soy sauce1 tspwhite sugar1½ tbspShaoxing wine2 tspdark soy sauce2 tspChinkiang vinegar, optional (see note)1 tspsesame oil, plus extra to serve80 ml(1/3 cup) vegetable oil2garlic cloves, thinly sliced4thin slices of ginger8green onions (about 250gm), cut into 5cm lengthsMantou1 tbspcaster sugar2 tspdry yeast2 tbspvegetable oil500 gmplain flour
For mantou, combine sugar, yeast and 300ml lukewarm water (28C-32C) in a large bowl, stirring to dissolve. Stand in a warm place until foamy (10-15 minutes), then add oil and stir to combine. Process flour and 1 tsp salt in a food processor, then add yeast mixture in a steady stream. A ball of dough will form in about 10 seconds, if it doesn’t, add 1 tbsp more of water. Turn onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (6-8 minutes). Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth and stand in a warm place until double in size (1¼-1½ hours). Gently knock back dough, turn onto a floured surface and knead until dough is very smooth and firm (5-10 minutes). Form a 40cm x 7cm log. Cut widthways into 24 even pieces and place each roll in the centre of a 5cm square piece of baking paper. Place rolls in large steamer baskets, leaving a gap between each, cover and stand until double in size (15-20 minutes). Steam, in batches, until cooked through and a bamboo skewer inserted withdraws clean (12-15 minutes). Keep warm.
Meanwhile, combine lamb, light soy sauce, sugar and 1 tbsp Shaoxing wine in a bowl. Season to taste and stand for 30 minutes.
Combine dark soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil and remaining Shaoxing wine and set aside.
Heat a wok over high heat until smoke appears. Add vegetable oil, swirl it around wok, add garlic and ginger, let it sizzle until just coloured (8-10 seconds), then immediately add lamb. Toss rapidly using a chan or spatula until lamb is partially cooked and slightly charred (20-30 seconds), then add reserved dark soy sauce mixture and mix through. Add green onion and stirfry until most of the sauce is absorbed. Check seasoning and add extra sesame oil if necessary. Serve immediately with mantou.
Note Chinkiang vinegar is a black rice vinegar that is available from Asian supermarkets.
This is one of the more typical Beijing dishes. Its success lies in cutting the lamb to paper-thin slices and cooking with masses of green onions to provide that distinctive fragrance. Young leeks are good substitutes. Instead of rice, northerners prefer to eat this dish with steamed buns called mantou, the Chinese equivalent to Western bread. Steamed rather than baked, these buns are simple to make and can be frozen after cooking, just re-steam and use. They can also be bought already prepared from the freezer section of Chinese grocers. — Tony Tan