Aromatic and pungent, spicy cumin lamb stir-fry is a dish that seldom fails to impress. This recipe offers two tricks to obtain the perfect texture.
I just realized that I haven’t yet written any recipes using lamb on my blog. Growing up in North-west of China, I enjoyed many lamb delicacies produced by Chinese Muslim communities. Today I’d like to share one of the dishes which is very simple to make and truly delectable: Spicy cumin lamb stir-fry (孜然羊肉).
Best spices for lamb dishes
For me, cumin is the best spice to pair with lamb. It has a distinctive flavour and aroma which helps to mask (or reduce) the smell of lamb. Chilli is another spice that makes lamb dishes pungent and exciting. Spicy cumin lamb stir-fry presents a well-balanced combination of these three ingredients. It’s a dish that seldom fails to impress.
How to achieve the best texture
Apart from appealing taste, a pleasant texture is also an important factor in a well-produced dish. So I’d like to share two tips on how to achieve the perfect texture for spicy cumin lamb stir-fry.
Keep the lamb tender
Nothing is worse than a plate of chewy meat. To achieve tenderness, you need to follow 3 steps: 1. Choose a tender cut of lamb. Leg steak is the best choice. 2. Marinate the meat with a little cornstarch. 3. Fry over high heat for a short period of time.
Keep the dish dry
Unlike most Chinese stir-fry dishes, you don’t see any sauce in this lamb dish. In fact, the finished lamb should be coated with spices and look pretty dry. This is why you need to fry the lamb twice. The first time, you will see quite a lot of liquid coming out of the lamb. Discard before frying the second time.
How to serve it
Usually, spicy cumin lamb stir-fry is served with other savoury dishes and plain rice as staple. However, I sometimes serve it as a filling for flatbread, just like my alternative way to serve Twice-cooked pork. Also, it can be a perfect filling for Rou Jia Mo (Chinese burger), a famous street food originated from Xi’an, China.
Spicy cumin lamb stir-fry (孜然羊肉)
- 600 g lamb, diced, preferably leg steak
For the marinade
For the stir-fry
- 3 tablespoon cooking oil
- 2 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2 teaspoon chilli flakes, or to taste
- 3 fresh chilli, chopped
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 pinch sugar
- 1 bunch coriander, chopped
- Toasted sesame seeds, optional
- Place diced lamb into a mixing bowl. Add soy sauce, rice wine, cumin powder and cornstarch. Mix until the lamb is evenly coated with the sauce. Leave to marinate for 5 minutes.
- Heat up a wok (or a deep frying pan) over high heat. Pour in oil then stir in the lamb. Cook until no raw pieces can be seen on the surface. Transfer the meat to a plate (discard all the liquid).
- Wipe the wok dry. Fry cumin seeds and chilli flakes until fragrant. Stir in the lamb and fresh chilli. Add salt and sugar. Fry for about 1 minute.
- Sprinkle coriander over. Give everything a quick stir then dish out. Garnish with sesame seeds if you wish (see note).