Cumin and Chilli Lamb Skewers

, from Issue #105. September, 2022
Photography by Yuki Sato.
Cumin and Chilli Lamb Skewers

Enjoy these Northern Chinese-inspired lamb skewers with rice and your favourite Asian greens!

Serves: 3


2 tablespoons coriander seeds
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon white peppercorns
1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3 tablespoons chilli flakes
½ teaspoon chilli powder, optional

600-800 grams lamb shoulder or leg, with fat
1 onion
1 tablespoon table salt
½ cup rice wine
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
¼ teaspoon ground white pepper

EQUIPMENT: 10-12 x 8-10-inch bamboo or metal skewers. If using bamboo skewers, soak in warm water for 1 hour before cooking.


SPICE MIX:Toast the seeds and peppercorns in a dry pan over a medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until aromatic. In a mortar and pestle or spice grinder, grind the toasted components along with the salt, sugar, garlic powder, chilli flakes and chilli powder, if using, until you have a fine powder. Set aside.

SKEWERS:Trim any large surface area of fat off the lamb. Cut the fat into chunks and reserve. Cut the lamb meat into 2-3cm cubes.

Blanch the lamb fat in 1 litre of boiling water over a high heat for about 4 minutes, or until solid. Remove the fat from the water and shake off excess liquid. Allow to cool slightly, then cut into 2cm cubes. Discard the blanching liquid.

Peel the onion and cut into large chunks. It is only used to impart flavour to the meat. In a large bowl, combine the lamb, lamb fat, onion chunks, salt, rice wine, black pepper and white pepper. Cover and marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or up to overnight.

Thread the lamb and fat alternately onto the skewers, so there are 4-5 pieces of meat on each skewer. Discard the onions.

Heat a grill pan or barbecue to maximum heat. Grill the skewers for 2-3 minutes on each of the 4 sides. Sprinkle a generous amount of the spice mix over the skewers each time you turn them. You should end up with charred edges on the lamb and crispy, rendered fat.