Cumin Lamb 新疆羊肉

Xinjiang, an autonomous region in Northwestern China  is home to numerous ethnic groups, including Uyghurs, a tribe of Turkic origin. Lamb often takes precedence over pork, and cumin, a spice not usually associated with Chinese cuisine is a common seasoning.

This typical stir-fry, which employs both of those ingredients, is perfect for this time of year. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, lamb is a warming, or Yang food- just what we need on these cold snowy nights. Great with steamed white rice or Chinese noodles.

Xinjiang Style Lamb with Cumin

3 Tablespoons Chinese roasted peanut oil, or rice bran oil*

1 lb. lamb shoulder, sliced against the grain into thin strips

1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced

1 large green pepper, deseeded and cut into thin strips

3 longhorn peppers, deseeded and cut into thin strips* (can substitute 2 small hot chilies, minced)

1 Tablespoon light soy sauce

1 teaspoon sugar

1 tsp Sichuan peppercorns*, dry toasted in a pan until fragrant, and crushed slightly

2 Tablespoons cumin seed, dry toasted until fragrant

3 cloves garlic, peeled and diced

1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves and stems.

Heat a wok over high heat, and, when hot swirl in 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the onion and peppers and stir-fry two minutes, until slightly charred and just beginning to soften. Add the soy sauce, the sugar,  give a quick toss, and remove.

Re-heat the wok and wipe dry.Add the rest of the oil, and, when hot, add the cumin and Sichuan peppercorns, stir-fry a few seconds, and immediately add the garlic. Add the lamb, and stir-fry until just cooked through. Re-add the onion and peppers, tossing to heat through.
Remove and serve hot, sprinkled with cilantro. Serves 4

* available at C-Mart,  located at 109 Lincoln Street in Boston’s Chinatown, and other Asian markets

written by Jim Becker-Chinatown guide