Previously, on tastingmenu.wordpress.com –
So for the 2020 Memorial Day dinner, I was a little surprised to learn that we had a package of ground lamb in our refridgerator.
I started thinking of, perhaps, making Shepherd’s Pie based on my experience on making a meal for the Lazarus House group in Lawrence, MA late last year. Unfortunately, that idea got nixed since my wife wanted me to do something else. So scanning my library, I thought maybe I could make lamb tsukune skewers after the kushiyaki recipe in Nobu Miami: The Party Cookbook (p. 114-115). In this case, I would substitute lamb for chicken.
1 lb ground lamb
1 thumbnail knob ginger, grated
1/2 t grated garlic
2 T potato starch
2 T soy sauce
1/2 t black pepper
2 t minced scallion (from 1 scallion)
1 t yuzu kosho
As it would turn out, I was out of yuzu kosho, but I thought it might be alright since I would be serving the skewers with both the
Nobu red and yellow anticucho sauces (actually, the yellow sauce contains both yuzu, lemon juices as well as aji amarillo chili). To
make the lamb tsukune, I would combine all the tsukune ingredients. Matsuhisa-sama cautions that you need to wet your hands before blending it all together and then before molding the portions onto skewers. Once I had everything mixed, I divided the mix into 6 parts to mold each portion onto a skewer by themselves. In addition, I had some SRF flatiron and ribeye steaks in the refridgerator from my local HMart (Burlington). So dinner would be washugyu and lamb (tsukune) skewers that I would cook in my countertop oven.
Much like the other kushiyaki meal, I would add the following vegetables:
10 bitesize chunks of sweet onions
1 bell pepper cut into 10 bitsize pieces
2 small zucchini cut into the 1/2″ pieces
10 grape tomatoes
which I could add to the washugyu skewers or put them on their own skewers.
Prior to getting the skewers in to the broiler, I would season all skewers with a few 3-fingered pinches of 4:1 salt/pepper mix and the drizzle with olive oil – EXCEPT the tsukune skewers. And like the prior kushiyaki dinner, I would have a batch of the Nobu anticucho sauces for dipping or drizzling on the cooked skewers. In cooking the skewers, I would have to turn the skewers over 1/4 way every five minutes (for a total of about 20 minutes). I pulled the SRF skewers out around the 15 minute mark so that they wouldn’t be overcooked.
There was an expectation regarding the SRF skewers that we made, and that was pretty much met as we tasted them. The question was, would the lamb tsukune have a gamey after-taste since we had no idea how much lamb fat was put in when the ground lamb was made. As we tasted it, we were very surprised that there wasn’t a lot of gaminess and what lilttle there was had been addressed (probably) by the addition of garlic, ginger, scallion and soy. It went wonderfully well with the anticucho sauces. The other thing I realized that the use of the potato starch served as a way to ‘adhere’ the entire mix of garlic/ginger/scallion/soy with the ground lamb so that they would stay molded to the skewers. In addition, the tsukune seemed relatively juicy as we bit into it. There was indeed some leftover tsukune mix that my wife used shape lamb meatballs which were placed onto skewers with chunks of vegetables the following day. Those additional skewers were cooked for that day’s lunch (there was probably about another 2 skewers worth). I could see doing a smaller portions as part of a holiday yakimono course offering.