We love lamb in this house. Juicy, tender, versatile, and a flavorful departure from beef. I get a lot of blowback when I profess my love of lamb; look, I know they’re cute, but that cuteness is by far eclipsed by how delicious they are. Besides, baby chickens and cows are cute, too. I don’t hear y’all making a case for them.
Another thing I unapologetically love as much as lamb is Sichuan food. Sichuan cuisine, Szechwan cuisine, or Szechuan cuisine (/ˈsɛʃwɒn/ or /ˈsɛtʃwɒn/; Chinese: 四川菜; pinyin: Sìchuān cài or Chinese: 川菜; pinyin: Chuān cài) is a style of Chinese cuisine originating from Sichuan province in southwestern China. It’s famous for the use of chilis, chili oil, cumin, onion, and the delightfully tingly Sichuan peppercorn, which is my favorite spice found anywhere on the globe. Spicy? Yes. Savory? Yes. Meaty? Yes. Cooling? Somehow, yes.
And those peppercorns! They’re delicious and addictive- here’s a delightfully nerdy NPR piece about scientists exploring the frequency of the tingling caused by these magical little berries (!!!) as they tease the tongue and lure it back for more. If you haven’t tried Sichuan food, an ancient, prismatic world of flavor awaits.
Lamb is used often in Sichuan cooking- you may know variations of the Sichuan dish cumin lamb (my fave pictured above), so the Serious Eats Sichuan peppercorn-spiked leg of lamb that gave us leftovers during a busy week was a perfect fit for our home. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
SICHUAN LEG OF LAMB WITH COOL CELERY SALAD AND MISSOURI JASMINE RICE
For the lamb
- 1 3-lb butterflied leg of lamb
- 2 tbsp cumin seed (whole)
- 3 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns
- 2 tbsp red pepper flakes
- 2 star anise pods
- 2 tsp fennel seed (whole)
- 2 tbsp brown or white sugar
- 3+ cloves garlic
- Kosher salt
For the salad (I used a mandoline slicer to chop and ribbon these veggies):
- 1 head celery, chopped thin on the bias
- 4 carrots, peeled and cut into ribbons
- 8-10 radishes, sliced thinly
- 1.5 c cilantro leaves
- 1/2 bunch green onions, sliced on the bias
- 2 cucumbers, sliced into ribbons
- Handful mint leaves, Whole or cut into chiffonade
- 3.5 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp white vinegar
- 2 tbsp soy or tamari (gf)
- 1 tbsp white sugar
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
- 1/3 c vegetable or other neutral oil
- Kosher salt
- Cracked black pepper
For the rice:
- 1. 5 c Martin Jasmine rice (who knew the best jasmine rice comes from the bootheel!)
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1.5 tsp vegetable or other oil
- 2 1/4 c water
Read more after the jump!