Asian five-spiced lamb shanks recipe

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This certainly is a revolutionary Sunday roast! I also like to serve it with a fresh salad of lettuce, peanuts and chillies/chiles to complement all the other flavours.

  • Yield: 4 Servings


  • 2 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes/hot red pepper flakes
  • 3 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) soy sauce
  • generous ½ cup (130 ml) Chinese cooking wine
  • 1 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar/jaggery
  • 8-cm/3-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and julienned
  • 8-cm/3-inch piece of fresh turmeric, peeled and julienned
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
  • 6 small round shallots, peeled and halved
  • 1¼ cups (300 ml) vegetable stock
  • 4 lamb shanks, French-trimmed
Smashed Sichuan Cucumber
  • 2 large cucumbers
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1–2 tsp chilli/chile oil
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • fresh coriander/cilantro, to serve
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1–2 tsp Sichuan peppercorns, crushed (to taste)
  • 2½ tsp white sugar
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
How to Make It
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) Gas 4.
  2. Dry-fry the Chinese five-spice, chilli flakes/hot red pepper flakes, star anise, cinnamon and Sichuan peppercorns in a small frying pan/skillet over a medium heat for 1–2 minutes, stirring, until fragrant.
  3. Stir the spices with the soy sauce, wine, tamarind, sugar/jaggery, ginger, turmeric, garlic, shallots and vegetable stock in a large jug/pitcher.
  4. Place the lamb shanks in a large roasting dish and drizzle with the spice mixture. Roast the lamb shanks in the preheated oven, turning occasionally, for about 2–2½ hours until the lamb is almost falling off the bone.
  5. Remove the shanks from the dish and cover with foil to keep warm. Skim away excess fat from the juices, then strain into a saucepan and simmer over a medium heat on the hob/stove-top for 5 minutes to reduce and warm through for a sauce to accompany the lamb.
  6. Smashed Sichuan Cucumber
  7. Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and stir until the salt and sugar have completely dissolved. Set aside.
  8. Wash the cucumbers and pat them dry with a clean kitchen cloth. On a cutting board, lay a large knife flat against a cucumber, and smash it lightly with your other hand. The cucumber should crack open and smash into four sections. Repeat along its full length and with the other cucumber. Cut the smashed cucumbers into angled bite-sized pieces.
  9. In a large bowl, mix the cut cucumber with the dressing, garlic and chilli/chile oil, and toss together well.
  10. Divide the smashed cucumber and dressing into smaller serving bowls and garnish with the sesame seeds and coriander/cilantro. Serve immediately so that the cucumber still has some bite.
  11. Mushroom Sticky Rice
  12. While the rice is soaking, line your steamer with two layers of banana or bamboo leaves so that the leaves extend out over the sides. Place the steamer over a large saucepan filled with a little water (at least 2.5 cm/1 inch) and have a tight-fitting lid ready.
  13. Cook the onion in the oil in a frying pan/skillet over a medium heat, stirring, for 5 minutes or until translucent. Add the garlic, mushrooms and chilli/chile. Turn the heat to medium-high and stir-fry for 1–2 minutes, until fragrant.
  14. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the drained sticky rice, plus the fish sauce, soy sauce and half the spring onions/scallions.
  15. Transfer the rice to your prepared steamer. Cover with the lid and steam over a high heat for 40–55 minutes. (Check and top up the water halfway through, if needed, and fluff up the rice.)
  16. When ready, remove from the heat and stand with the lid on for 5 minutes. The rice should be soft, sticky and slightly translucent. If there are any hard grains, steam for another 5 minutes.
  17. Taste and sprinkle over a little more fish sauce if more saltiness is needed. If too salty, add a squeeze of lime juice and gently stir in.
  18. Garnish with the remaining spring onions/scallions and serve straight from the steamer with the Asian Five-spiced Lamb Shanks, lamb sauce, Smashed Sichuan Cucumber and extra salad with peanuts and chillies/chiles, if liked.

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