Chinese Spicy, Sweet and Sour Lamb Chops

Spring is lamb time for me, and you know how much I love Chinese food. Here I’ve combined my favorites in one easy recipe. Who doesn’t love lamb racks cut into easy-to-eat mini caveman chops? Slideshow:  Fast Lamb Chop Recipes 

Chinese Spicy, Sweet and Sour Lamb Chops
Photo: Photo © Madeleine Hill
Active Time:
1 hrs 30 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs



  • 2 large egg whites

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce

  • 1/4 cup sake

  • 1/4 cup sherry 

  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cornstarch

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 12 baby lamb chops (2 1/2 to 3 ounces each)


  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons soy sauce

  • 1/2 cup lightly packed light brown sugar

  • 1/3 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth

  • 1/4 cup Chinese black vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons rendered bacon fat (see Note)

  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch


  • 1/2 cup cornstarch

  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil, plus more for frying

  • 12 dried Chinese or other hot red chiles

  • One 2-inch piece of peeled fresh ginger, thinly sliced

  • 1 small star anise

  • 1/3 cup minced scallions

  • 5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced 


Make the Marinade

  1. In a large baking dish, whisk the egg whites until foamy. Whisk in the soy sauce, sake and sherry, then whisk in the cornstarch and baking soda until smooth. Add the lamb chops and turn to coat. Cover and let marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, Make the Sauce

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk the soy sauce with the brown sugar, stock, vinegar, rendered bacon fat, sesame oil and cornstarch.

Cook the Chops

  1. In a large bowl, whisk the cornstarch with the tapioca flour, salt and baking soda. In a large saucepan, heat 1/2 inch of peanut oil to 375°. Remove half of the lamb from the marinade, letting the excess drip back into the baking dish. Dredge the lamb in the cornstarch mixture, patting it on lightly so it adheres. Fry the lamb over moderately high heat, turning once, until browned all over, 2 to 3 minutes total. Transfer to a paper towel–lined baking sheet to drain. Let the oil return to 375° and repeat with the remaining lamb.

  2. Carefully pour the hot oil from the saucepan into a heatproof bowl. Wipe out the saucepan and heat the 2 tablespoons of peanut oil in it. Add the chiles, ginger, star anise, scallions and garlic and stir-fry over high heat until the garlic is golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the sauce, then add the lamb chops and cook, turning, until the lamb is coated and the sauce is thick, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a platter and serve.


To make rendered bacon fat: In a medium skillet, cook 4 slices of bacon over moderately high heat until rendered and crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer the bacon to paper towels and reserve for another use. You should have about 2 tablespoons of rendered bacon fat.

Serve With

Steamed rice and bok choy.

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