Crispy Cumin Lamb with Aubergine and Ginger

Adapted from an Ottolenghi recipe via The Guardian.
“Lamb and cumin are a pairing you’d normally associate with Middle Eastern cooking, but it is also a staple in the north-west of China, where there is a large Muslim community. According to my Taiwanese friend Gary Chang, there’s only one heat when stir-frying, and that’s ‘very hot,’ so keep the flame high to achieve a good sear. Use a wok if you have one, or a high-sided sauté pan if you don’t.” –Yotam Ottolenghi

700 g boneless lamb shoulder, silver skin and gristle removed, then cut into 6 cm x 5 mm strips
2 t corn flour
1½ T ground cumin
90 ml dark soy sauce
60 ml Shaoxing rice wine
1 T caster sugar
2 aubergines, cut into 6 cm x 2 cm pieces
60 ml vegetable oil
2 cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into thin strips
2 T cumin seeds
3 red chillies, finely sliced on an angle (deseeded, if you prefer less heat)
3 spring onions, finely sliced on an angle
15 g coriander, leaves and stalks separated
1½ t rice wine vinegar

Pat the lamb dry. Put it in a bowl with the corn flour, a tablespoon of ground cumin, half the soy sauce, half the rice wine and the sugar. Toss to coat and leave to marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to an hour.

Toss the aubergine with the remaining cumin and half a teaspoon of salt. Heat half the oil in a large wok or sauté pan on a high flame, then fry the aubergine, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, until it’s beginning to brown.

Add the ginger and 1 tablespoon of soy, and fry for 3 minutes more, stirring very often, until the aubergine is a dark golden brown. Remove the aubergine from the wok, wipe the pan clean, then return it to the heat. Put the cumin seeds in the hot pan and, taking care not to burn them, dry fry for around 30 seconds, until fragrant, then tip into a saucer.

Return the pan to a high heat and, once it’s smoking, add the rest of the oil and swirl around. Add a third of the lamb, separating the pieces with a spoon, so they don’t clump together, then leave to sear undisturbed for 2 minutes. Stir-fry for another 2 minutes, until crisp and golden brown all over, then lift out of the wok with a slotted spoon, leaving the fat in the pan. Repeat with the rest of the lamb in two more batches, then drain and discard half of the fat.

Return all the meat to the wok and, over a high heat, quickly toss with the aubergines, the remaining soy and rice wine, the chillies, spring onions, coriander and toasted cumin seeds, for only a few seconds, to warm through. Transfer to a platter, drizzle over the vinegar and serve straight away. Serves 4-6.