Sweet and sour lamb

Sweet and sour lamb

Green Pickled Peaches
Chris Chen

This is all about dispelling apprehension by using a favourite taste. It’s also about the trickery of mixing the familiar with the not so well liked (sometimes not ‘well liked’ simply because it may not be so well understood).

For the lamb


Quantity Ingredient
250g lamb brains
600g lamb ribs, separated and french-trimmed, (ask your butcher to do this)
2 3 cm pieces of ginger
4 spring onions, crushed with the side of a knife
4 garlic cloves, crushed with the side of a knife

For the sweet and sour sauce

Quantity Ingredient
2 tablespoons peanut oil
3cm piece of ginger, peeled and crushed
4 spring onions, crushed
2 tablespoons dry sherry
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
a few drops ses ame oil

For frying the lamb

Quantity Ingredient
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon white peppercorns
1 tablespoon salt
185g plain flour
peanut oil, for deep-frying
fennel shoots, to garnish


  1. Prepare the lamb:
  2. Soak the brains in cold water for 2 hours. In the meantime, ll a saucepan with about 1 litre water and add the lamb ribs. Bring to the boil and add the ginger, spring onions and garlic. Simmer for 15 minutes until a skewer inserted into the lamb meets little resistance. Drain the poaching liquid into another saucepan, reserving the lamb ribs. Take out 250 ml of the poaching liquid and keep for making the sauce. Drain the brains and remove the membranes. Gently poach the brains in the water for 10 minutes. Drain.
  3. Make the sweet and sour sauce:
  4. Heat a frying pan or wok over medium–high heat. Add the oil, ginger and spring onions and stir-fry until fragrant, reducing the heat if necessary to prevent scorching. Add the sherry, let the alcohol evaporate slightly and then add the sugar. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the reserved 250 ml of poaching liquid and leave to reduce until the sauce is syrupy. Add the vinegar, cook briefly to let the rawness dissipate and then add the soy sauce. Taste that the sauce is as syrupy, sour, sweet and salty as you’d like it. Strain and discard the aromats. Finish with sesame oil.
  5. Fry the lamb:
  6. Preheat the oven to 160°C. Put the coriander seeds and peppercorns on a tray and toast in the oven for 10–12 minutes. Grind with the salt to a fine powder. Stir into the flour and then pass through a sieve. Cut the brains into bite-sized pieces. Dredge them once in the seasoned flour, let the moisture come through, then dredge them again. Heat oil in a deep-fryer to 180°C and fry the brains until golden. Drain on paper towels. Deep-fry the ribs (not dredged in flour), drain on paper towels and drop into the sauce.
  7. Assemble the dish:
  8. I wanted to contrast the dark sauciness of lamb ribs with the crunch and softness of the brains, so place the sauced ribs on a plate and scatter the golden pieces of brains between them. Garnish with fennel shoots.
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