"A favourite restaurant for many in North London is X’ian Impressions, whose chefs are famous for their Shaanxi street food, and especially for their bowls of slurpy, hand-pulled belt noodles with cumin lamb. This recipe is inspired by that very dish, but uses a few cheats, like minced lamb, shop-bought noodles and a jar of good quality chilli oil. These noodles are on the punchier side, with a hit of numbing heat from the ground Szechuan peppercorns, so tone down the chilli oil if you like things milder."
The Modern Spice Rack by Esther Clark and Rachel Walker (Hardie Grant, £22), Photography by Matt Russell
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cumin seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon Szechuan peppercorns, crushed
- 1/2 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 400g minced lamb
- 5cm piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
- 1 fat garlic clove, crushed
- 6 spring onions, sliced
- 1 Chinese leaf cabbage, thickly shredded
- 4 tablespoons good-quality crispy chilli oil
- 1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar
- 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
- 350g cooked noodles of your choice, such as egg, rice, udon, soba or belt noodles
- sesame seeds
- Toast the cumin seeds and Szechuan peppercorns in a dry frying pan over a medium heat for 2 minutes. Transfer them to a spice grinder or pestle and mortar and grind to a coarse powder.
- Heat the sesame oil in a wok or large frying pan over a high heat. Add the lamb and fry for 5–7 minutes, stirring frequently, until deep golden brown. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the lamb to a bowl and set aside.
- Add the ground toasted spices to the pan, along with the ginger, garlic, most of the spring onions and the cabbage, and cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the chilli oil, vinegar, soy sauce and reserved lamb, then toss through the cooked noodles.
- Serve the noodles in bowls, topped with the remaining spring onions and sesame seeds, with a bowl of smacked cucumbers on the side.