cumin lamb stir-fry

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cumin lamb stir-fryCumin is used in a lot of western Chinese cooking, but it periodically shows up in Hunan and Sichuan cooking as well. My favorite cumin stir-fries involve lamb, which has a great, lightly gamy essence that matches well with the strong flavors of cumin and chili. Boneless leg of lamb is as easy to stir-fry as beef and has the advantage of not having tough fibers, so you don’t have to fret about which way the grain is going before slicing. To maximize the flavor and intoxicating aroma of this dish, I recommend toasting and grinding whole cumin instead of using preground cumin.

  • Yield: 4 Servings


  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 pound boneless leg of lamb, cut into ¼-inch-thick
  • slices
  • 2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds, or substitute 3
  • teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • ½ teaspoon Sichuan pepper, or substitute crushed red
  • pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 1 leek, white part only, thinly sliced
How to Make It
  1. 1. Marinate the lamb: In a medium bowl, stir together the soy sauce, rice wine, and cornstarch until the cornstarch is dissolved. Add the lamb and stir gently to coat. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.
  2. 2. If you’re using whole cumin seeds, toast the cumin seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat, shaking the pan occasionally, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Grind with a mortar and pestle or with a clean spice grinder.
  3. 3. Prepare the seasoning: In a small bowl, combine the cumin, sesame oil, Sichuan pepper, and black pepper. Set aside.
  4. 4. Heat a wok or large skillet over high heat until a bead of water sizzles and evaporates on contact. Add the peanut oil and swirl to coat the bottom. Add the lamb and allow it to cook undisturbed for 1 minute so that it begins to sear. Stir-fry for about another minute, or until the lamb browns on the outside but is not cooked through. Add the garlic, ginger, and leeks, and stir-fry for about 1 minute, until the leeks are wilted. Add the seasoning mixture, stirring so that the lamb is well coated. Stir-fry until the lamb is cooked through, another 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate and serve.

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