Sichuan Racks of Lamb with Cumin and Chile Peppers


Sang Yoon brushes lamb racks with soy sauce, rubs them with a Sichuan peppercorn, cumin and star anise mix, then roasts them until perfectly medium-rare. Slideshow:  Lamb Recipes 

Sichuan Racks of Lamb with Cumin and Chile Peppers
Photo: © John Kernick
Active Time:
45 mins
Total Time:
1 hr 45 mins


Spiced Lamb

  • 1/4 cup cumin seeds

  • 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns

  • 2 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns

  • 4 Chinese dried red chiles

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds

  • 2 star anise pods

  • 1 tablespoon onion powder

  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder

  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger

  • Five 3 1/2- to 4-pound frenched racks of lamb, excess fat trimmed

  • 2 tablespoons canola or peanut oil, plus more for brushing

  • Chinese dark soy sauce, for brushing (see Note)


  • 2 cups veal stock or 1 cup veal demiglace mixed with 1 cup of water

  • 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger

  • 1 garlic clove, crushed

  • 1 teaspoon tobanjan (see Note)

  • One 3-inch cinnamon stick

  • 1 teaspoon sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves

  • 1/2 teaspoon black cardamom pods

  • 1/2 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns

  • 1 Chinese dried red chile

  • 1/2 star anise pod

  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cubed

  • Kosher salt

  • Thinly sliced scallions, thinly sliced red Fresno chiles and crispy fried shallots (see Note), for garnish


Make the spiced lamb

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°. In a skillet, toast the cumin, black peppercorns, Sichuan peppercorns, dried chiles, fennel seeds and star anise over moderate heat, stirring, until fragrant, 3 minutes. Let cool, then finely grind. Transfer to a bowl and mix with the onion and garlic powders and ginger.

  2. Set 2 racks over each of 2 rimmed baking sheets. Lightly brush the lamb all over with oil and then soy sauce. Rub the spice mixture all over. In a skillet, heat the 2 tablespoons of oil. In batches, sear the racks over moderate heat until browned on both sides, 2 minutes per batch. Transfer to the baking sheets.

  3. Roast the lamb for 45 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 135°. Let rest for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the sauce

  1. In a saucepan, combine the veal stock, ginger, garlic, tobanjan, cinnamon, sugar, cloves, cardamom, Sichuan peppercorns, dried chile, star anise and fennel seeds. Simmer over moderate heat until reduced to 1 cup, 15 minutes. Whisk in the butter and season with salt; strain into a bowl and keep warm.

  2. Carve the lamb into chops and drizzle with the sauce. Garnish with scallions, sliced red chiles and crispy shallots and serve.

Make Ahead

The spice mixture can be stored in a sealed container at room temperature overnight. The sauce can be refrigerated overnight and reheated before serving.


Tobanjan (spicy, fermented broad-bean paste, also sold as doubanjiang) and Chinese dark soy sauce are available in Asian food stores. For crispy fried shallots, very thinly slice them crosswise into rings and dust with Wondra flour; fry in 1 1/2 inches of 325° vegetable oil until golden and crisp, then transfer to paper towels to drain.

Suggested Pairing

Sturdy, rich rosé Champagne.

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