Maybe it’s the time of year, or maybe it’s because the one decent Chinese restaurant closed, but I’ve been on kind of an Oriental run lately and this lamb dish, was part of it. Serves 4:
Cumin Lamb with Sichuan Peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds
- 2 teaspoons Sichuan or regular peppercorns
- 1 pound boneless lamb
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 to 8 dried red chiles (or substitute 1/2 teaspoon or more crushed red pepper)
- 1 large white onion
- 1 bunch (about 8) scallions, trimmed
- 2 tablespoons peanut oil
- 3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 ½ tablespoons Chinese cooking sherry or dry sherry
- 2 cups fresh cilantro, leaves and stems
In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast cumin seeds and peppercorns until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a mortar and pestle and crush lightly.
Slice meat across the grain into 1/2-inch-thick strips. Toss meat with crushed spices, ground cumin, salt and dried chiles.
Peel onion and halve it through the root end. Trim the ends and cut each half lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Cut white and light green parts of scallions into 2-inch lengths. Thinly slice scallion greens; keep separate.
Heat a very large skillet or wok over high heat until screaming hot, about 5 minutes. Add oil. Toss in onion and the scallion bottoms. Cook, tossing occasionally, until vegetables are lightly charred but still crisp, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
Add lamb and chiles to skillet. Cook, tossing quickly, until meat begins to brown. Add garlic, soy sauce and sherry. Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated and lamb is cooked through, about 2 minutes. Toss in onions and scallion bottoms. Remove from heat and mix in cilantro and scallion greens. Serve hot, over rice and enjoy!
Another “you can make this anytime” from Frank. It’s hot but not killer, most of the heat coming from the Sichuan peppercorns. If you don’t have them, it will work with regular peppercorns, but won’t have the interesting kick you get from the Sichuan ones.
Since it was close to Easter when I made this, I was able to find a nice small piece of boneless leg of lamb which worked well, but if you don’t mind working around the bones, shoulder chops would work, and are generally a lot less expensive.
I didn’t have any peanut oil, so just used regular vegetable oil and it worked fine. You don’t want olive oil here, because you’re using high heat. Same story with the Chinese cooking sherry—just use dry sherry if you have it.
As you can see from the top photo, we had some green beans in the fridge, so I just tossed them in when I added the lamb and chiles.