Twice Cooked Lamb Belly Stir-Fry



Marinated American lamb chops with rosemary & garlic on a plate


  • 1 pound long beans or green beans, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • Sweet potato starch or mung bean starch
  • 1 pound cellophane noodles
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
  • 2 pounds American Lamb Belly (recipe follows)
  • 2 medium (about 2 cups) leeks, thinly sliced
  • 8 large (about 4 cups) Napa cabbage leaves, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup Stir-Fry Sauce (recipe follows)
  • 4 tablespoons Chinese Hot Mustard Sauce (recipe follows)
  • 1 cup (about 1/2 bunch) fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds 

American Lamb Belly Bacon:

  • 1 cinnamon stick, broken
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon whole Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 pounds American Lamb belly (boneless lamb breast)
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons black Chinkiang vinegar
  • 2 stalks celery, cut into 1-inch-wide “smiles”
  • 2 scallions, halved
  • 1 small yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 small carrot, cut into rounds
  • 1 medium garlic clove, sliced
  • 1 (1-inch) knob fresh ginger, peeled, cut into coins
  • Basic Chicken Stock (recipe follows),
  • 1 cup or canned low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce 

Basic Chicken Stock: (makes 2 quarts)

  • 3 pounds chicken wings and/or bones
  • 1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 bunch (8 or 9) scallions, coarsely chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, coarsely chopped
  • 3 (1-inch) knobs fresh ginger, unpeeled, sliced
  • 6 whole dried red Thai chiles 

Stir-Fry Sauce: (makes 1-1/2 cups)

  • 1 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons black Chinkiang vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch 

Chinese Hot Mustard Sauce: (makes 1/2 cup)

  • 2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 4 teaspoons Chinese mustard powder
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil


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. 

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. 

Heat a wok or large, heavy, flat bottomed skillet over high heat; add 3 tablespoons oil. Add noodles; stir-fry until warm and have a bit of char, about 1 minute. Divide among 4 bowls. 

In the 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.  

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, toss for 1 minute. Add 2 tablespoons Chinese Hot Mustard Sauce; stir. Divide stir-fry between 2 bowls. Repeat with remaining stir-fry ingredients to make 2 more bowls. Garnish with cilantro and sesame seeds; serve immediately. 

For the American Lamb Belly Bacon:  In a small saucepan, toast cinnamon stick, cumin, coriander, peppercorns and red pepper flakes 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. 

In a large braising dish or Dutch oven, scatter celery, scallions, onions, carrot, garlic and ginger evenly on the bottom.  Lay lamb belly directly on the vegetables; evenly pour chicken stock, 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.  Remove from stove; place in oven. Braise at 350°F for 1-1/2 hours; remove from oven.  When cool enough to handle, remove lamb and place on a rack on a baking sheet to cool.  It will have shrunk to about 1/2 the original size and will be very fragrant.  Discard vegetables and excess juice. 

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 making them easier to eat. Lamb Belly Bacon can be made up to 4 days in advance, and refrigerated in an airtight container. 

For the Basic Chicken Stock:  In a large stockpot, add chicken. Cover with about 12 cups water; bring to a boil. Skim foamy impurities off the top; reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Add onions, scallions, celery, carrot, ginger and chiles; simmer gently for about 2 hours.  Strain; skim off layer of fat that rises to the top of the stock.  The stock can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, or frozen for up to 1 month. 

For the Stir-Fry Sauce:  In a large saucepan, whisk together soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, pepper and 1/4 cup water; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low.  In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water until smooth to form a slurry. Slowly add it to soy mixture; whisk constantly.  Increase heat to medium-high; whisk until mixture thickens, 1 to 2 minutes. It 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. 

For the Chinese Hot Mustard Sauce:  In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, soy sauce, sugar and sesame oil.  Add mustard powder; whisk vigorously until thoroughly mixed in. While whisking vigorously, slowly drizzle in vegetable oil to emulsify the sauce.  It will be thick and shiny.  The sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.

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