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Xinjiang Cumin Lamb (Ziran Yangrou, 孜然羊肉)

Author: Taylor Holliday | The Mala Market | Cooking Sichuan in America


  • 1 pound lamb, cut in ¼-inch-thick slices
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup peanut or canola oil
  • 1 white onion, quartered and cut in chunky slices
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 6 to 8 green onions, cut diagonally into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 to 2 jalapeno peppers, sliced in rings
  • 10 to 12 Chinese dried red chili peppers (whole, or cut in half for more heat)
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese light soy sauce (Zhongba preferred)
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese dark soy sauce (Zhongba preferred)
  • Handful of cilantro sprigs


  • Briefly marinate lamb slices in 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine and ½ teaspoon salt.
  • Heat wok until hot. Add enough oil to deep-fry the meat, about 1 cup. Heat oil just until a test piece sizzles (300° F or 150°C; it should not be hot enough to brown the meat). Fry lamb slices until they are just cooked through, then remove and let drain on paper towels. (If you choose not to deep-fry the lamb, shallow fry and pour off all of its fat before proceeding.)
  • Clean wok and return to heat until hot. Add 3 tablespoons fresh oil and heat until hot. Add white onion, flipping and stirring until it starts to wilt. Add the garlic, green onions and fresh chili peppers and stir-fry on high heat until the onions just start to brown along the edges.
  • Add dried red chilies, cumin seeds and Sichuan peppercorns and stir-fry until fragrant.
  • Add back the lamb slices and cook briefly, mixing them in with the aromatics.
  • Add cumin powder, Shaoxing wine, soy sauce and dark soy sauce and stir-fry vigorously to combine. Add cilantro and mix through. Remove to platter and garnish with a bit more cilantro.