Simmered lamb shanks

Simmered lamb shanks

The Real Food of China
Leanne Kitchen

Here we head north to Dongbei, to the Manchuria of old. This vast region, northeast of Beijing, has a distinctive cuisine, thanks to an incredibly harsh climate, some interesting neighbours (Russia and Korea) and some great local produce. Stews and braises, often involving hefty pieces of meat, are common, with game and lamb popular. Typically the shanks are served with accompaniments such as pickled cabbage and steamed breads, but we like them with roast potatoes, even though this is slightly cross-regional.


Quantity Ingredient
6 frenched lamb shanks
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
10 cm piece ginger, unpeeled and finely sliced
2 star anise
2 pieces cassia bark
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 1/2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
60ml clear rice wine
2 1/2 tablespoons black rice vinegar
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 spring onions, finely sliced, green part only


  1. First blanch the lamb. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, add the lamb shanks and bring back to the boil, then immediately drain the lamb into a colander and set aside.
  2. Heat a large, heavy-based saucepan or stockpot over a medium–high heat. Add the oil, garlic and ginger and stir-fry for about 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Add the star anise, cassia, soy sauces, rice wine and vinegar, season with sea salt and pepper, then stir to combine. Add the lamb shanks, then pour in 1.5 litres water, or enough to cover the lamb. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to medium–low and simmer gently for 1½ hours, or until tender. Test by inserting a skewer or fork into the lamb; if the meat pulls away easily, it is ready.
  3. Transfer the lamb to a platter, reserving the cooking stock in the pan. Cover the lamb with foil and keep warm. Bring the cooking stock to the boil and reduce by half, to intensify the flavour. Pour a little stock over the lamb (the remaining stock can be frozen and used for other purposes), drizzle with the sesame oil and scatter the spring onions over the top.
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