Mongolian Lamb Stir-Fry is a delicious main course that tastes like it came from your favorite Chinese restaurant.
In Australia, where they eat a lot of lamb, one of the most popular dishes at the local Chinese restaurants is Mongolian Lamb Stir-Fry. Most of us will never get to eat at an Australian Chinese restaurant, but luckily, this dish is easy to recreate at home. When you taste the tender, succulent lamb, you will understand why this dish is so popular.
Scroll down to read more about how it all comes together or click here to jump straight down to the recipe.
Is This The Same Thing As Mongolian Beef?
No! Besides being made with beef and not lamb, Mongolian beef has a different sauce and is much sweeter than this dish.
Mongolian beef is also not made with cumin. Here we use cumin powder because it is such a natural pairing with lamb.
What Kind Of Lamb Should You Use?
You can use almost any boneless cut of lamb, including some more economical cuts. Because you are cutting the lamb into small pieces and cooking it quickly, no matter what cut you use, it will be tender.
Boneless leg of lamb will make an exceptionally tasty cumin lamb stir-fry, but it can be pricey. Boneless lamb stew or kabob meat from the leg or shoulder is another good option – just cut it into smaller pieces once you get the meat home.
Lastly, you can also buy a bone-in cut, such as a shoulder chop, and trim the meat off the bone yourself. If you choose this option, buy at least 1.5 to 2 pounds of bone-in lamb to end up with a pound of meat and trim off any pieces of fat or tendon as well as remove the bones.
What Is Shaoxing Rice Wine?
Shaoxing wine is a Chinese cooking wine that is used to add depth and complexity to dishes. It is a common ingredient in many Chinese recipes, including stir fries and noodle dishes. You can find Shaoxing wine at a grocery store with a good selection of international products, an Asian market – if you have one nearby – or online here.
It typically retails for around $10 and most recipes only call for a few tablespoons, so one bottle will last you quite a long time. Store Shaoxing wine in your pantry even after opening the bottle and do not try drinking it – it’s very salty!
A good substitute for Shaoxing wine is dry sherry or Japanese rice wine, which is also known as mirin. But if you enjoy cooking Chinese dishes at home, I recommend picking up a bottle of Shaoxing wine. You will find many uses for it.
Making Mongolian Lamb Stir Fry
To make Mongolian lamb stir-fry, you first rub small cubes or thin slices of lamb with earthy cumin and piquant chili pepper flakes. Cutting the lamb into small pieces will ensure that your lamb cooks quickly and stays tender.
Then you stir-fry the seasoned lamb with lots of aromatics, like onion, scallions, garlic, and ginger. Although we add a little bit of soy sauce and Chinese cooking wine at the end, this is what is known as a dry stir-fry, meaning it is not bathed in a thick sauce.
I have kept this stir-fry very simple with onion and scallion, but you could add sliced bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, or pea pods if you enjoy lots of vegetables in your stir-fry.
Like most stir-fries, Mongolian lamb cooks very quickly, so make sure that you have all of the ingredients ready to go before you start cooking! Serve over rice to complete the meal.
- 2 tsp. ground cumin
- 2 tsp. Chinese or Korean chili flakes*
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. black pepper
- 1 lb. boneless lamb, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
- 3 Tbsp. neutral oil with a high smoke point, such as peanut or canola, divided
- 1 large yellow onion
- 1 bunch scallions
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
- 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp. Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
- Rice for serving
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the cumin, chile flakes, salt, and pepper.
- Add the lamb and toss to coat with the spice mixture.
- Let the lamb sit at room temperature for 15 minutes while you prepare the rest of the ingredients, or, if preparing in advance, cover and refrigerate for up to one hour.
- Peel and quarter the onion. Then, slice each quarter into three or four wedges.
- Trim the roots and tops of the scallions. Cut the white and light green parts into two or three pieces and thinly slice the dark green tops. Set aside the tops to garnish the dish.
- Heat a wok or deep large skillet over high heat until it is hot enough that a drop of water sprinkled on the pan instantly sizzles, about 2 minutes. Add two tablespoons of the oil and heat until shimmering.
- Add the onion and white and light green parts of the scallion to the wok and toss to coat with oil. Stir-fry, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are softened and browned, about five minutes.
- Transfer the vegetables to a bowl.
- Add the remaining tablespoon of the oil to the wok and swirl to coat the bottom.
- Add the lamb and stir-fry, stirring frequently, until all the pieces are browned, about 2 minutes.
- Add the garlic, ginger, soy sauce, and Shaoxing rice wine and stir to combine.
- Continue to cook for an additional minute.
- Return the onion and scallion to the wok and cook for an additional minute.
- Garnish with the scallion tops and serve immediately over rice.
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*You may substitute with 1 and ½ teaspoons ancho chili powder and a pinch of cayenne pepper.
This post originally appeared in June 2021 and was revised and republished in February 2024.