Nigella Lawson's Wide Noodles with Lamb Shank in Aromatic Broth
While I could never have a recipe in any book I wrote that I didn’t love inordinately, this is just one of those special ones that fill me with a sense of glad-hearted awe. It’s not too much to claim for it: it’s almost ridiculously easy to make – I relish the quiet ceremony of its slow-cooking preparation – and is both comforting and enlivening to eat. I don’t know how it came to me, but I think that a visit to Master Wei in London, with its glorious bowls of punchily spiced aromatic broth and handmade biang biang noodles, might have had something to do with it, even if not entirely consciously. I didn’t set out to replicate what I’d eaten there, but I was hungering for something to deliver up exactly that combination of chilli-hot intensity and shoulder-lowering serenity. And while I haven’t been cooking it for long, my children already ask me for it regularly when we’re planning an evening together. It’s bowlfood at its best. You do need to plan for it, as the gorgeous broth has to be made a day in advance (longer if you want), but it’s a very straightforward procedure once you’ve got the key ingredients in stock. And gochujang, that fermented Korean red chilli paste that provides rich, rounded depth as well as heat, is the magic ingredient here. While it may not be a new enthusiasm, it is an enduring one. I recommend you get it for adding both oomph and umami to chilli, shepherd’s pie, mayonnaise, soups and stews. Here, however, it simply makes for a broth of such complexity, you’d think a thousand and one exactingly calibrated spices went into it. If you can’t get hold of gochujang, I dare say a teaspoon of dried chilli flakes would serve as a stand-in; it certainly would bring the heat (stir miso into the broth before eating).
Nigella's essay on this dish continues in Cook, Eat, Repeat.
|1 ltr||cold water|
|1 x 15ml tbsp||gochujang paste|
|2 tsp||sea salt flakes (or 1 tsp fine sea salt)|
|1 tsp||allspice berries|
|1 tsp||cumin seeds|
|1||carrot (approx. 125g)|
|2||fat cloves of garlic|
|70g||banana shallots (2 smallish or 1 large) or ½ an onion|
|175g||pappardelle (not egg pappardelle) or other wide noodles|
|Chilli Crisp oil (Chinese condiment)|
You will need: a small casserole with a tightly fitting lid.
1. Heat the oven to 150°C/130°C Fan. Pour the litre of water into a small casserole with a tightly fitting lid (I use one of 20cm diameter) and stir in the gochujang paste until dissolved, then add the salt, allspice, cumin seeds and star anise. Now add the lamb shank to the pot, and put over medium heat.
2. Cut the ginger into coins and add to the pot as well, along with the carrot, peeled (if you want) and cut into four, the garlic cloves, bruised with the flat of a wide-bladed knife, and the shallots, cut in half, though there is no need to peel them. In fact, I don’t bother to peel anything. Once everything’s in the pan, the lamb shank should be just covered. If it isn’t, add some more water.
3. Once it’s come to the boil, clamp on the lid and cook in the oven for 2–2½ hours, by which time the meat should be very tender indeed, and ready to fall off the bone.
4. Using tongs, transfer the lamb shank to a large-ish bowl, then strain the liquid over it. Leave to cool, then refrigerate overnight.
5. The next day, remove the solidified fat, and shred the meat – not too finely, you don’t want stringiness – into a small saucepan, pouring over the liquid, and in another pan, large enough to take the pasta and cabbage, bring water to the boil.
6. Shred the cabbage. When the water’s come to the boil, add salt, and turn the heat on very low under the pan of lamb and its broth so that it warms gently, though you do want it to be piping hot by the time the pasta and cabbage are cooked.
7. Add the pappardelle to the boiling salted water and when it’s 3 minutes away from its full cooking time (check the packet for instructions) add the cabbage and stir well. When both cabbage and pasta are cooked, drain, then divide between two noodle bowls.
8. Using a slotted spoon, lift out the hot lamb and share between the two bowls, then ladle the broth on top. If you have any of the crispy chilli oil add 1 teaspoon or so to each bowl, and take both bowls to the table, making sure you come back for the Chilli Crisp oil, so you can add more as you eat.