Northern-style Lamb with Garlic

A Chinese poet once wrote, ‘There are seventy-two ways of cooking lamb; of these only eighteen or nineteen are palatable.’ These sentiments were widely shared by my family. Childhood memories of growing up at the Chinese-American table were notable for the absence of lamb. It is something we never ate. I discovered lamb when I ventured out into the American world and when I became friends with Chinese-Americans from Taiwan or northern China. This way of preparing it, stir-frying with a lot of garlic and spring onions to balance the lamb’s robust flavour, is a popular one with the Chinese.


  • 450 g (1 lb) boneless lamb loin chops
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 2 teaspoons dark soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon light soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons cornflour
  • 2 tablespoons groundnut oil
  • 6 tablespoons finely shredded spring onions
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground roasted Sichuan peppercorns


Cut the lamb into thin slices 5 cm (2 in) long and 5 mm (¼ in) wide. Put the lamb in a bowl with the rice wine, soy sauces, sesame oil and cornflour. Let it stand for 20 minutes.

Heat a wok or large frying pan until it is hot. Add the groundnut oil and, when the oil is very hot and slightly smoking, add the lamb and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Remove the lamb with a slotted spoon to a colander set in a bowl to drain. Reheat the wok, toss in the spring onions, garlic and ginger, and continue to stir-fry for another 4 minutes. Return the lamb to the wok and stir a few times to heat thoroughly. Sprinkle on the peppercorns and serve immediately.