There really is no such thing as authentic regional cooking any more. We live in a globalised world where there is a Burger King on every other street corner that isn’t occupied by a McDonalds and a Starbucks in every unit in between. Mediocrity has become the standard. Sugar, salt and fat are the new ‘Holy Trinity’ of western (and everywhere else) cooking.
Side note on Holy Trinities: Even outside the area of organised religion, there are quite a few. In Chinese cooking, garlic, ginger and spring onions are the trio. In Cajun cooking, onions, bell peppers, and celery reign supreme. While in Italy and France, onions, carrots and celery are the superheroes. In Greece, lemon juice, garlic and oregano make up the triumvirate.
Sadly, in so many forms of cooking, sugar, salt and fat are now the three key ingredients that will keep the ever more obese customer waddling back for more. It’s pathetic and it needs to change.
So, put down that family bucket, lick your pudgy fingers for the last time and get ready to prepare as authentic a Thai Butterflied Lamb as is possible.
- A leg of lamb – Get your butcher to butterfly it, if he knows how.
- 2 tablespoons of fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- 4 or 5 stalks of lemongrass
- 4 to 6 chilis (medium heat)
- A bulb of garlic (or 3 single clove garlics)
- 5cm (2″) piece of ginger root
- 2 teaspoons of flakey salt
- 2 teaspoons of black pepper
- 2 limes
- A bunch of coriander (cilantro), if there is no aversion to it.
As with most of the things I cook, this is very straightforward. Peel and roughly chop the garlic, ginger and lemongrass. Chop the chilli too. Place everything except half the coriander, the salt and the leg of lamb in a blender and blitz it to a nice paste.
In case you are like me and enjoy doing the hard work yourself, I have a directional on butterflying a leg of lamb here. The following pic is evidence that I did it myself. A supermarket ‘butcher’ had said that he couldn’t do the job. As on so many occasions before, I was almost amused at the carnival like get-up of the lad with check trousers, apron and knife scabbard. A pity he had no skill to go with it.
Pour the marinade over the lamb and rub it in. Leave in the fridge, basting occasionally, for at least six hours, overnight if you can.
Get the barbecue hot and then turn down to cool (if on gas) or let the coals lose some of their heat if on coals/charcoal. Place the meat on the barbecue. Spoon the remaining marinade over the meat as it cooks.
When the meat is nearly cooked (DON’T OVERCOOK LAMB), chop the remaining coriander. Sprinkle it and the salt over the lamb. Finish off by squeezing the limes over the lamb too.
Let the meat rest for ten minutes or so. Carve and serve. I served ours with a nice salad and some home-made Naan breads. They were delicious and worked well with the meat. The recipe is a good one from the BBC and is here.
Footnote on authenticity of recipes: There really is no such thing as an authentic recipe. That is outside the various items of protected origin that protect some very specific delights such as the Cornish pasty, Champagne and so forth. Not that I am advocating drinking Champagne with your pasty. If you want to be ‘authentic’ in your pasty eating, have a pint of beer or some brandy stolen from a wrecked ship. That’s what they do in Cornwall, I believe. No, recipes change and evolve. They have done so at light speed in recent times with the increase of travel and the increasing diversity of the populations of most countries around the world. This is a good thing. Diversity is good in populations as well as in recipes. Having said that, stick rigidly to this recipe and you won’t go far wrong. Enjoy.