Chargrilled spicy lamb

Chargrilled spicy lamb

The Real Food of China
Leanne Kitchen

One of our abiding memories of Xi’an is the shambolic charm of the Muslim Quarter, where you can poke your nose into bakeries, watch butchers hack into freshly slaughtered carcasses and observe young chefs stretch slippery lengths of dough into impossibly long biang biang mian, or ‘belt noodles’, so unique to this city. But one memory remains the strongest and that is of the intoxicating aromas of chargrilled lamb, chilli and cumin wafting through the air, tempting us with some of the most sensationally tasty meat we’ve ever eaten.


Quantity Ingredient
2.2kg lamb shoulder on the bone
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
30g cumin seeds, freshly ground
2 1/2 tablespoons chilli flakes, or to taste
125ml peanut oil
sea salt


  1. Place the lamb on a rimmed plate large enough to fit snugly in a large steamer. Put the plate in the steamer over a wok or saucepan of boiling water, then cover and steam the lamb for 2–2½ hours, or until well cooked (you may need to top up the water in the wok from time to time). Remove the lamb from the steamer and set aside to cool to room temperature.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the garlic, cumin, chilli flakes and enough oil to make a thin paste. Alternatively, put the whole garlic cloves, cumin, chilli flakes and oil in a small food processor and process until combined. Tear the cooked lamb shoulder into large chunks, about 6 cm, discarding any large pieces of fat. Add the lamb to the paste and toss to coat well.
  3. Heat a chargrill pan or barbecue grill over a medium–high heat, add the lamb, season with sea salt and cook for 8–10 minutes, turning occasionally, or until the lamb is browned and crisp all over. Arrange the lamb on a platter and serve.
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