Calling all lamb lovers! This authentic Chinese cumin lamb recipe takes less than 30 minutes to put together. It might just become your go-to lamb recipe after you give it a try.
Cumin lamb stir-fry is one of my mom’s most requested dishes whenever she hosts a gathering back in China. It’s undeniably my favorite lamb dish of all times. It’s a little spicy and full of flavor.
Once the lamb is prepared, the cooking takes practically no time. It’s a very quick dish you can whip up after a busy workday and it goes very well with rice.
Now, to make sure you get the best result on your first try with this recipe, I’ve come up with some answers to the questions that you might have. Hope that’s helpful. Let’s get started.
What Part of Lamb Should I Use for This Cumin Lamb Recipe? Why?
I prefer lamb leg because there’s less fat. If you’d like a little bit more fat, lamb shoulder could be a good option. Just make sure it’s boneless.
Why Do You Suggest to Thinly Slice The Lamb? How Big Is One Slice?
Ther are three reasons.
- Thinly sliced lamb marinates well.
- It cooks way faster.
- It’s easy to absorb the flavor and keep the meat tender at the same time.
I’d recommend cutting the lamb into approximately half-inch wide and one-inch long slices. Feel free to double the size if you’d like. Just remember to keep them thin, about 1/3-inch.
Why Did You Coat Lamb Slices with Cornstarch Before Cooking?
Lamb releases a good amount of juice during cooking, especially with fat. With cornstarch, it helps lock the juice in the lamb and prevent the dish from being too wet. In addition, it keeps the meat tender.
Why Did You Use Both Cumin Seeds and Ground Cumin in This Recipe?
Cumin seeds and ground cumin are generally the same but they have a slightly different flavor. Cumin seeds have a pungent and slightly bitter with a sharp taste comparatively. Ground cumin has a very intense nutty flavor. Both of them combined can maximize the unique aroma of cumin, which is one of the best spices for lamb.
If you don’t have cumin seeds on hand, feel free to use a bit more ground cumin. It won’t be a deal breaker.
This Recipe Calls for Dark Soy Sauce. Can I Use Regular Soy Sauce?
The primary function of dark soy sauce in this recipe is the color. It helps change the visual appearance of this dish. Yes, you can go with regular soy sauce but you might want to adjust the flavor with salt because dark soy sauce is more deeply flavored and richer.
What Should I Pay Attention in Order to Make This Cumin Lamb Successfully?
Make sure to heat up your pan, wok or skillet before you add oil. Also, you want the oil to be extremely hot before cooking the lamb. Please note that thinly sliced lamb only takes 1 or 2 minutes to cook. Working fast is something you want to keep in mind when making this dish.
I Don’t Particularly Like Lamb. Can I Substitute It with Beef in This Recipe?
Absolutely! When I was testing this recipe, I tried with both lamb and beef and the result is that it works great with beef as well.
If you get a chance to give this recipe a try, I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment and let me know how it turns out for you. Happy cooking!
Cumin Lamb Stir Fry
Authentic Chinese cumin lamb stir-fry with white onion, green onion, and fresh cilantro.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 7 minutes
- Total Time: 22 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
- Category: Meat
- Method: Stove
- Cuisine: Chinese
- 1 pound boneless leg of lamb, thinly sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon chili powder or more
- 3 tablespoons cooking oil with a high smoking point such as avocado oil
- 2–3 cloves garlic, sliced
- 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
- 1 small white onion, sliced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 3 stems green onion, cut into 2-inch long pieces
- 1 small bunch of cilantro
- Rinse lamb and pat dry with paper towels. Cut into thin slices, 1/2-inch wide, 1-inch long and 1/3-inch thick. (You can double the size if desired. Make sure the slices are thin.) Add sea salt and cornstarch. Stir well and set aside.
- Combine cumin seeds, ground cumin, and chili powder in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Heat up a large sauté pan over high heat for about 2-3 minutes. Add oil and swirl to glaze the pan.
- When the oil is heated up, add garlic and stir for a few seconds. Add marinated lamb. Use your spatula to quickly separate lamb slices. Sauté for 1-2 minutes or until the color of the lamb is changed.
- Add dark soy sauce and the combined cumin spices. Stir quickly until even.
- Add onion and sugar. Keeping sautéing for 30 seconds or until the sauce is thickened up. You want to finish this step within seconds not minutes to prevent the onion from making too much juice. Work fast.
- Turn off the heat. Quickly stir in green onion and cilantro. Again, do it quickly to keep the green onion and cilantro fresh and crunchy. Sprinkle with more chili powder if desired.
- Dish and enjoy with rice or quinoa.
- Serving Size: 1
- Calories: 356
- Sugar: 2g
- Sodium: 765.6mg
- Fat: 27.3g
- Saturated Fat: 7.9g
- Carbohydrates: 5.3g
- Fiber: 0.8g
- Protein: 22.2g
- Cholesterol: 77.1mg