Cumin Lamb 4.000

Renee Comet for The Washington Post; styling by Bonnie S. Benwick

Plate Lab Sep 10, 2015

Chinese chef Peter Chang makes this dish fast and fierce, with color and crunch from dried chili peppers and crisp-tender vegetables. The meat is flavorful because it's marinated briefly and cooked on the bone, and tender because it's pounded a bit. Freshly toasted and ground cumin and a bit of numbing Sichuan peppercorn heat grace the lamb just before it leaves the hot wok.

Serve with steamed rice.

Make Ahead: The lamb chops need to marinate for at least 15 minutes and up to 30 minutes.

Where to Buy: Maggi Seasoning sauce, light (thin) soy sauce and Sichuan peppercorns are available at large Asian markets.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 4 servings

  • 8 lamb rib chops (about 1 1/4 pounds total)
  • 2 tablespoons Shaoxing cooking wine (see headnote)
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce (see headnote)
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Maggi Seasoning sauce (see headnote)
  • Freshly ground white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground Sichuan peppercorns (see headnote)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seed
  • Vegetable oil
  • 6 to 8 scallions
  • 1 medium carrot, trimmed, scrubbed well and cut into very thin matchsticks (julienne)
  • 1 medium white onion, cut into thin matchsticks or half-moons
  • 6 to 8 small dried red chile peppers (unseeded)
  • 1 handful small sprigs of cilantro, plus more for garnish


Place the lamb chops between two large pieces of plastic wrap. Pound just enough to flatten the meat to half its original thickness; it should remain attached to the bone.

Transfer to a zip-top bag along with the Shaoxing wine, light soy sauce, oyster sauce, Maggi Seasoning, several grinds of white pepper and 1/4 teaspoon of the ground Sichuan peppercorns. Seal and massage to coat. Cover and marinate for 15 to 30 minutes.

Toast the cumin seed in a dry wok or skillet over medium heat until fragrant and lightly browned, shaking the pan to avoid scorching. Cool, then grind in a dedicated spice grinder. Transfer to a small bowl.

Heat just enough oil to thinly coat a wok or high-sided skillet; place over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add the scallions (1 bunch; to taste); cook undisturbed for 1 or 2 minutes, just until lightly browned, then discard the scallions, leaving as much oil in the pan as possible.

Add to the bowl with marinating lamb chops the julienned carrot and onion, the dried chili peppers (to taste) and a small handful of short cilantro sprigs, tossing to coat.

Add the mixture to the hot scallion oil; increase the heat to medium-high. Stir-fry vigorously for 3 to 5 minutes, making sure the meat gets evenly seared but is not overcooked. Season the stir-fried lamb chops with the toasted, ground cumin and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon ground Sichuan peppercorns; stir-fry for 1 minute, until the spices are fragrant and well distributed.

Serve right away, garnished with a few more cilantro sprigs.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from chef-restaurateur Peter Chang.

Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.

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