I remember the first time I experienced Chinese Shantung Lamb Ribs (sometimes called Shandong Lamb Ribs). It was in Australia, in the Capital, Canberra. There was a long standing restaurant Portias, which sold them - I'd long been promised the wonders of these ribs by everyone who ate there so was curious to see if they lived up to the hype. I'd been familiar with Shantung or Shandong chicken so kind of knew what I was in for.
Twice cooked, soft AND crunchy lamb ribs in a sweet and sour dressing.
Nothing could have prepared me for just how delicious these ribs are! Meltingly soft with a lovely crunch at the same time. This comes from being gently steamed, then fried in a flour/egg white dredge - almost a batter. They lamb itself is rich, so the addition of a fresh, zingy element is very welcome. The dressing brings a wonderful slap of flavour - sweet, sour and zingy. This in conjunction with the crunchy cucumber cut through all that richness to deliver a fresher, lighter mouthful. Quite wonderful!
Lamb ribs are not easy to come by, so call around and visit a butcher to ask about getting hold of them. I actually found the last lot in Walmart! Failing that, you can use pork ribs too. But for the most authentic, unusual Chinese dish - lamb is the way to go. They're quite unlike the chicken version - definitely richer but absolutely delicious too!
I would serve mine with a simple bowl of boiled rice, but you could also serve with Chinese vegetables like my simple stir fried Chinese Snow Pea Sprouts with Garlic or I recently prepared a fabulous Xinjiang Tiger Salad from my favourite Chinese cooking blog, Red House Spice that I'm sure you'd love too.
All in all, these shantung/shandong lamb ribs are a triumph of flavour and not super difficult to make at home too. Let's get cooking.
How to make my Shantung Lamb Ribs
For the lamb
- Combine the cumin and salt then toss the ribs in the mix to coat well. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours or longer.
- Place the ribs in a steamer pan over boiling water and steam for 1½ hours until soft. Remove from the heat and let cool completely.
- To make the dressing, mix together the sugar, sesame oil, vinegar, soy sauce and shaoxin cooking wine. Mix in the garlic, chilli and spring onion. Set aside until needed.
- When the lamb has cooled, beat the egg white until you have stiff peaks. Mix the rice flour with about ¾-1 cup water until you have a consistency of double cream. Gently fold in the egg white.
- Heat the oil over a moderate heat until hot (around 350ºf/170ºc) - carefully dip a few lamb ribs into the rice flour mix to lightly coat - tap off any excess. Carefully drop into the oil to fry for about 2-3 minutes each side to crispen slightly. Drain on paper towels and keep warm in a warm oven. Repeat with all the other ribs.
- Arrange the ribs on a large serving platter. Scatter over the cucumber, then pour over the dressing. Finally, scatter with cilantro and hot with rice.
Nutrition (per serving)
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