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Grilled Lamb Skewers with Cucumber Salad


Pok Pok, Portland, Oregon

These fiery kebabs were inspired by lamb skewers that Andy Ricker bought from street vendors in China's Yunnan Province. "They were the perfect snack for chilly winter evenings: spicy, hot and eaten right off the stick," says Ricker.

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  1. 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
  2. 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  3. 1 1/2 teaspoons red chile powder
  4. 3/4 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns
  5. 1 1/2 teaspoons caraway seeds
  6. 1 medium seedless cucumber, diced
  7. 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  8. 1 small red onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  9. 4 pickled garlic cloves, thinly sliced, plus 2 tablespoons pickling liquid
  10. 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
  11. Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  12. 2 pounds trimmed boneless leg of lamb, cut into 1-inch dice
  1. In a skillet, toast the cumin, coriander, chile powder and Sichuan peppercorns over moderate heat, shaking the pan, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a spice grinder and let cool. Finely grind the spices and transfer to a bowl.
  2. Toast the caraway in the skillet over moderate heat until fragrant, 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl; add the cucumber, tomatoes, onion, garlic, pickling liquid and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Light a grill. Thread the lamb onto metal skewers. Season with salt and pepper and then the ground spices. Grill over moderately high heat until well browned outside and pink inside, 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter and serve with the cucumber salad.