Chefs' Recipes

Lamb skewers with chilli and cumin (Shou zhua yang rou chuan)

Australian Gourmet Traveller recipe for lamb skewers with chilli and cumin (Shou zhua yang rou chuan) by Dainty Sichuan in Melbourne.

By Tina Li
  • 30 mins preparation
  • 10 mins cooking plus marinating
  • Serves 6
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Lamb skewers with chilli and cumin (Shou zhua yang rou chuan)
Dainty Sichuan calls this dish "spicy lamb kebabs" on its menu. Tina Li says they roast and grind the cumin and Sichuan pepper for their distinctive scent and taste. She adds a small quantity of water to the marinade and binds it with potato flour - this helps the lamb stay juicy. Begin this recipe a day ahead to marinate the lamb, although at a pinch 20 minutes will do the trick.


  • For deep-frying: vegetable oil
  • ¼ each small green capsicum and red capsicum, finely diced
  • ¼ small Spanish onion, finely diced
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp chilli oil (see note)
  • Large pinch each of ground Sichuan pepper and ground cumin
Lamb skewers
  • 400 gm trimmed lamb shoulder, cut into 2cm dice
  • Pinch of caster sugar
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp potato flour (see note)
  • 2 tsp roasted chilli powder
  • 1 tsp each ground cumin and 13-fragrance spice mix (see note)


  • 1
    For lamb skewers, combine lamb with sugar and ½ tsp salt in a bowl and mix well. Add soy sauce, mix again, then add 60ml water and mix well. Add oil, potato flour and spices, mix thoroughly, thread onto skewers, cover and refrigerate to marinate overnight, or marinate at room temperature for 20 minutes.
  • 2
    Heat oil to 180C in a large wok over medium-high heat, add lamb in 2 batches and deep-fry, turning occasionally, until browned and cooked to your liking (3-5 minutes; be careful, hot oil will spit). Drain on absorbent paper and set aside. Ladle off most of the oil (transfer to a heatproof container, cool and discard), leaving 2 tbsp in wok, add capsicum, onion, ginger and garlic and stir-fry until fragrant (1 minute). Add chilli oil and spices, season to taste with salt, stir-fry until fragrant (30 seconds), add lamb skewers, turn to coat and serve hot.


Note Potato flour is available from select health food shops and supermarkets, and Asian grocers. Along with the requisite Sichuan pepper, Dainty Sichuan uses Maggi Seasoning (as soy sauce), Knorr chilli liquid seasoning, and shisanxiang, or 13-fragrance spice powder. The latter is used in Chinese-Islamic cooking, especially for marinating kebabs. They're all available from Chinese grocers.
Drink Suggestion: Spicy shiraz viognier