Twice-Cooked Lamb Belly Stir-Fry

Day PartDinner
Menu PartEntree
Cuisine TypeAsian

Chef Karen Akunowicz
Myers + Chang

Chef Akunowicz makes the most of a smaller portion of lamb by stretching it into an Asian stir-fry to serve at Myers + Chang. Knowing that a lot of mutton is eaten in Mongolia and Northern China, she made sure to perfume the dish with cumin and coriander—two spices common in that region. The lamb belly is crisped in a wok to turn it into “lamb bacon.”


Lamb belly bacon
1 cinnamon stick, broken
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. coriander seeds
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
¼ tsp. whole Sichuan peppercorns
2 lb. lamb belly
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
½ cup plus 3 tbsp. black vinegar
2 celery ribs, sliced
2 scallions, halved
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 small carrot, sliced
1 garlic clove, sliced
1 piece ginger root (1 in. long)
1 cup chicken broth
½ cup low-sodium chicken broth

¾ cup stir-fry sauce (recipe follows)
4 tbsp. Chinese hot mustard sauce (recipe follows)
1 lb. long beans or green beans, cut into 2-in. pieces
1 lb. sweet potato or mung bean starch cellophane noodles
4 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 medium leeks, thinly sliced
8 large Napa cabbage leaves, thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
1 cup cilantro leaves
2 tbsp. sesame seeds

Stir-fry sauce
1 cup low-sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp. black vinegar
2 tbsp. toasted sesame oil
1½ tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp. cornstarch

Chinese hot mustard sauce
2 tbsp. unseasoned rice vinegar
2 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. toasted sesame oil
4 tsp. Chinese mustard powder
2 tbsp. vegetable oil



1. For stir-fry sauce: In large saucepan, whisk soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, pepper and ¼ cup water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. In small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water until smooth to form a slurry. Slowly add to soy mixture; whisk constantly. Increase heat to medium-high; whisk until mixture thickens, 1 to 2 minutes. Sauce should be shiny and coat the back of a spoon. Remove sauce from heat; pour into a bowl or container and refrigerate until cool. Sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.
2. For hot mustard sauce: In small bowl, whisk together vinegar, soy sauce, sugar and sesame oil.  Add mustard powder; whisk vigorously until thoroughly blended. Slowly drizzle in vegetable oil, whisking constantly, to emulsify sauce.  It will be thick and shiny.  The sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.
3. For lamb belly bacon: In small saucepan, toast cinnamon stick, cumin, coriander, red pepper flakes and peppercorns over low heat until fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes. Rub toasted spices over lamb belly. Sprinkle brown sugar and 3 tablespoons vinegar over lamb belly and rub in. Refrigerate, covered, in nonreactive container or shallow glass baking dish for at least 24 hours or up to 3 days.
4. Preheat oven to 350 F. In large braising dish or Dutch oven, scatter celery, scallions, onions, carrot, garlic and ginger evenly on bottom. Lay lamb belly directly on vegetables; evenly pour chicken broth, 1/2 cup black vinegar and soy sauce over top.  Cover lightly with aluminum foil (or cover with lid if using a Dutch oven). Place over high heat for 5 minutes. 
5. Remove pan from stove; place in oven. Braise for 1½ hours; remove from oven. When cool enough to handle, remove lamb and place on rack on baking sheet to cool.  It will have shrunk to about half the original size and will be very fragrant.  Discard vegetables and excess juice.
6. Once cool, wrap lamb tightly in plastic wrap; place in freezer until completely cool and firm, about 15 minutes or up to 1 hour. Slice lamb belly lengthwise into 1/4-inch strips resembling bacon. Slice strips into thirds; set aside.
7. For stir-fry: Fill a large bowl with ice water; set aside. Fill a large pot with water; bring to a rolling boil. Add beans; cook just until the color changes, about 2 minutes for long beans and 1 minute for green beans. Quickly remove beans from water with a slotted spoon or drain in a colander; plunge beans into ice water to stop cooking. Remove cooled beans from water; pat dry with paper towels and set aside.
8. Fill pot again with water; bring to rolling boil. Drop in noodles and turn off heat. Let noodles soak for 8 minutes; drain. Toss with 1 tablespoon oil to keep from sticking; set aside.
9. Heat a wok or large, heavy, flat-bottomed skillet over high heat; add 3 tablespoons oil. Add noodles; stir-fry until warm and develop a bit of char, about 1 minute. Divide among 4 bowls.
10. In same wok or skillet over medium heat, lay half the sliced lamb belly as flat as possible; cook until crispy, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon; place on a paper towel-lined plate. 
11. To the lamb fat in the wok, add half the leeks; toss until they are soft, about 1 minute. Add half the long beans; stir-fry 1 minute. Add half the cabbage; stir-fry for another 1 minute. Return lamb belly bacon to the wok; add about half the stir-fry sauce and toss for 1 minute. Add 2 tablespoons Chinese hot mustard sauce; stir. Divide stir-fry between two bowls. Repeat with remaining stir-fry ingredients to make two more bowls. Garnish with cilantro and sesame seeds; serve immediately.

Photo courtesy of American Lamb Board

Latest Recipes

View More