Xinjiang Lamb Skewers

I regularly visit a small, nameless Chinese restaurant in Sydney which cooks food from the Xinjiang region of China. As you would expect by it’s geographical location, north western Chinese food has hints of both Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine. The use of cumin I find particularly interesting, a spice not often associated with Chinese food. These skewers of lamb, commonly served as street food are very delicious. They are marinated in a spice mix, then cooked on the barbeque. The results are deliciously spicy and tender. The restaurant I visit always uses a large piece of lamb fat on either end of the skewer to ensure that the meat stays juicy. I’m not sure if you’re supposed to eat them, but invariably there’s never anything left.

RECIPE: (serves 4)


750g lamb shoulder or leg (3cm cubes)
4 tablespoons peanut oil

Spice Mix:
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon chili flakes
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon ground Sichuan peppercorns
2 teaspoons ground ginger powder
4 garlic cloves (very finely chopped)
2 teaspoons sea salt

Combine all the spice mix ingredients together in a bowl. Coat the lamb pieces in the oil, then roll them in the spice mix. Make sure they’re well coated. Cover the bowl and leave the lamb to marinade for at least 4 hours – overnight is best!

Soak some wooden skewers in water for an hour. Take the lamb and put 4-5 pieces on a skewer. Repeat with all the lamb. Heat a grill to very hot or fire up the barbeque. Drizzle a little oil over each skewer then cook, turning frequently for 7-8 minutes or until the meat is cooked.

Generally I wouldn’t serve anything else with these but I’m sure a bit of salad wouldn’t harm.

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