Sichuan Lamb Shanks

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


Appears in

Slow Cook Modern

Slow Cook Modern

By Liana Krissoff

Published 2017

  • About

ALSO GOOD WITH cumin-spiced millet

A while back, I saw a reference to a roast lamb shank dish served at Supernormal, a pan-Asian restaurant in Melbourne, Australia, and immediately ordered Andrew McConnell’s book from overseas, hoping the recipe for the dish would be in it. (It was.) Having never tried the original dish, I don’t know if this slow cooker version is even remotely similar—I’ve simplified the seasonings and technique a great deal here—but it’s delicious. The sauce, while not nearly as complicated as the original recipe (and lacking any very hard to find ingredients), is layered and complex: salty and fragrant, tangy and just barely sweet. The shanks are fancy enough for a dinner party—if you’d like, allow one shank for every two people, and remove the meat from the bones before serving. Or do as I would and just have people pull the meat off the bone with tongs as they serve themselves from a platter.

Four lamb shanks will just barely fit in an oval - or 4-quart (3.5-L) slow cooker (I don’t think a round pot would hold them). You could increase the quantities by half (six shanks, etc.) and use a larger cooker if you’d like each person to have his or her own shank—a very generous serving.


  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground toasted cumin
  • 1 tablespoon hot paprika
  • ½ teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
  • Salt
  • 4 lamb shanks
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 coins fresh ginger, chopped
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) Shaoxing wine
  • 3 tablespoons yellow soybean paste, or 2 tablespoons miso paste
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) oyster sauce
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns



In a cup, combine the cumin, paprika, five-spice, and 1 teaspoon salt. Rub the mixture into the lamb shanks. In a large skillet or sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat. Add two of the shanks and cook, turning with tongs, until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes total. Transfer to the slow cooker and brown the remaining shanks in the oil left in the skillet.

Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel if there are lots of dark spice bits, then add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, the garlic, and ginger and cook over medium heat for 1 minute. Pour in the wine, scraping up any browned bits, then remove from the heat and stir in the soybean paste, oyster sauce, and tomatoes. Pour the mixture over the lamb in the cooker and turn to coat the shanks with the sauce. The sauce won’t cover the shanks completely, but try to nestle the shanks in as snugly as possible. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

Morning or Evening

In a small skillet or sauté pan over medium heat, toast the Sichuan peppercorns, stirring frequently, until fragrant and darkened a shade, about 3 minutes. Let cool, then coarsely grind with a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. Set aside in a small serving bowl.


Using tongs, transfer the lamb shanks to a large platter. With an immersion blender, puree the sauce in the cooker, season with salt, if needed, then spoon it over and around the lamb. Serve, with the Sichuan peppercorns on the side for sprinkling.