Field Notes

Cumin Lamb with Chiles and Scallions

Cumin Lamb with Chiles and Scallions

Serves 2

After ordering this dish countless times at our favorite Chinese spot, we were driven to making it home out of laziness: we had a craving, but bad weather deterred us from making the trek to the restaurant.

The key to perfecting this dish is to have all of your ingredients ready to go before you start cooking, as things move quickly once you begin.

  • 1 pound boneless lamb
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing cooking wine (available at Asian markets and online)
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns (available at Asian markets and online)
  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • ½ cup whole dried Tien Tsin chiles
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 6 scallions, ends removed, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Rice, for serving.

Slice the lamb into 1/4-inch thin strips and place in a resealable plastic bag with the soy sauce, wine, sesame oil and garlic. In a small skillet over hot heat, toast the peppercorns until they begin to smell fragrant, about 2 minutes. Using a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder, grind the peppercorns into a coarse powder, then transfer to the bag with the lamb. Shake the bag to coat the lamb in marinade, and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.

Heat a wok or skillet over high heat. Add the canola oil and til the pan to cover the surface in a thin film. Add the lamb and sear, stirring and shaking the pan, until it is mostly browned (but not cooked through), about 90 seconds. Transfer the lamb to a plate and return the skillet to high heat. Add the chiles and cumin seeds and sear, shaking the pan, until the chiles are dark in places and everything smells awesome, about 2 minutes. Return the lamb to the pan; add the scallions and cook, moving the pan frequently, until the lamb is cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve with rice.