Speedy is not a fan of lamb and Alex is not a curry aficionado. But they couldn’t get enough of this lamb shank curry with coconut sauce. That’s more than enough endorsement for this recipe as far as I’m concerned. My family, after all, is my most serious and cold sober critic.
Why? What makes this lamb curry so special? The sauce is made with cider and coconut milk. Cider is, of course, an alcoholic beverage made from fermented apple juice. The kitchen smelled of apples while the lamb was braising.
What does curry sauce made with cider and coconut milk taste like? Delightful. A little tart and a little sweet, and that combo of flavors was heightened with the addition of a few cloves of garlic and star anise. There is no sauteing required. There’s nothing to chop nor mince. The only serious work involved is deep frying the lamb shanks to brown them evenly before they braise in the sauce.
A lamb shank generally weights between 400 to 500 grams. Double the amount and you have more than enough to feed three people with normal appetite. So, don’t let the photo above fool you into thinking that only two people ate those two lamb shanks. You’re just seeing two plates in the photo because, well… I had to exert a little more effort with the plating to make the meat pop. It’s been raining, the sky is overcast and it was impossible to take photos in the garden. When the lighting isn’t the best (and indoor lighting in our house really sucks), the plating has to be a little prettier than usual. Food blogging stuff.
- 2 lamb shanks, about 1 kilogram total weight
- cooking oil for deep frying
- 3 tablespoons curry powder (yellow, green or red will all work; you may also use curry paste)
- 2 pairs kaffir lime leaf, thinly sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly pounded
- 2 star anise
- 1 bottle cider (I used Strongbow)
- 2 cups coconut milk
- patis (fish sauce), to taste
- 1 cup coconut cream
- torn cilantro and mint, to garnish
- Rinse the lamb shanks then pat dry with paper towels.
- Heat enough cooking oil to reach a depth of at least three inches in a large wok or frying pan.
- Carefully slide the lamb shanks into the hot oil. Cook over high heat until browned. If the shanks are not completely submerged in oil, flip them over for even browning. Scoop out the lamb shanks and set aside.
- Pour off the oil from the pan, leaving only about a tablespoonful. Throw in the curry pwder, kaffir lime leaves, garlic and star anise. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until aromatic.
- Put the lamb shanks back in the pan. Pour in the cider. Allow to boil for a few minutes. Pour in the coconut milk. Season with fish sauce. Cover the pan tightly and set the heat to low. Braise the lamb shanks for an hour or longer, flipping them halfway through the cooking, until the meat is tender. Taste the sauce once in a while and add more fish sauce, if needed.
- When the lamb shanks are done, pour in the coconut cream to thicken the sauce. Swirl the pan around to blend evenly. When the sauce simmers, turn off the heat. Taste the sauce one last time and add fish sauce, if necessary.
- You may serve the lamb shank curry with coconut sauce over rice sprinkled with cilantro and mint. Or, you may place the lamb shanks in a serving bowl with the sauce, and rice on the side.