Xi’an ‘hamburgers’

Xi’an ‘hamburgers’

The Real Food of China
Leanne Kitchen



Quantity Ingredient
1 teaspoon instant dried yeast
500g strong plain flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
vegetable oil, for cooking


Quantity Ingredient
1kg lamb shoulder, on the bone
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
2 1/2 tablespoons shaoxing rice wine
1 star anise
1 piece cassia bark
1 piece dried tangerine peel
5 slices ginger, unpeeled
chilli flakes, to serve (optional)
1 small handful coriander sprigs


  1. To make the filling, put the lamb in a saucepan large enough to fit it snugly, then add enough water to just cover. Bring to a simmer, then cook over a low heat for 1½ hours, or until the meat is tender, adding a little more water if needed to keep the meat covered. Cool the meat in the liquid, then strain, reserving the liquid. Remove the meat from the bone in large pieces, then cut it across the grain into 5 mm thick slices. Put the lamb in a saucepan, then add the sugar, soy sauces, rice wine, star anise, cassia, tangerine peel, ginger and enough of the cooking liquid to just cover the meat. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30–40 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced by about three-quarters. Discard the whole spices and tangerine peel.
  2. Meanwhile, to make the buns, sprinkle the yeast over 125 ml lukewarm water in a large bowl, then set aside in a draught-free place for 5–6 minutes, or until foamy. Add the flour, salt and 150 ml lukewarm water and stir to form a very firm dough. Add a little extra water if the dough is too firm to handle, but not too much. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic (alternatively, knead using an electric mixer with a dough hook attachment). Form the dough into a ball, then place in a large, lightly oiled bowl, turning the dough to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a draught-free place for 1 hour, or until the dough has doubled in size.
  3. Knock back the dough, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and roll it into a 30 cm log. Cut the log into eight even pieces, then use your hands to roll each piece into a thin sausage about 20 cm long. Using a rolling pin, roll out each sausage until it is about 36 cm long and 5.5 cm wide. With a narrow side facing you, tightly roll up each strip, then sit it flat on one end. Flatten it with your hand, then use the rolling pin to roll it out into a 10 cm round.
  4. Place a large, non-stick frying pan over a low heat, brush the base with oil, then cook the buns in batches for 12–15 minutes on each side, or until cooked through and light golden. Cool slightly, then cut a horizontal opening in each bun, taking care not to cut all the way through. Divide the warm lamb mixture and some of the sauce among the buns and sprinkle with chilli flakes, if using. Add a few coriander sprigs and serve.
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