Serves 2 to 4.

Note: This classic Chinese dish uses a bit of chili bean paste, which is in the Asian section of the supermarket, and star anise, which is in the spice section or at Penzeys Spices locally. Adapted slightly from "Ching's Everyday Easy Chinese," by Ching-He Huang.

Spice paste:

• 1/4 tsp. hot chili powder

• 1 tsp. ground cumin

• 1 tsp. turmeric

• 1 tsp. curry powder

• 1 tsp. fennel seeds

• 1 tbsp. peanut oil


• 14 oz. lamb steak, cut into 1/2-in. cubes

• About 7 oz. new potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-in. chunks

• 2 or 3 carrots, peeled and cut into 3/4-in. chunks

• 2 tbsp. peanut oil

• 2 shallots, diced

• 2 star anise (see Note)

• 1 tbsp. Shaohsing rice wine, dry sherry or white wine

• 1 tbsp. chili bean paste (see Note)

• 21/2 c. vegetable stock

• 1 tbsp. cornstarch mixed with 1 tbsp. water


In a large bowl, combine chili powder, cumin, turmeric, curry powder, fennel seeds and 1 tablespoon peanut oil. Add lamb and stir to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, place potatoes and carrots in saucepan of water; bring to a boil and keep boiling for 7 minutes. Remove from heat, drain and refresh under cold water, then set aside.

Heat a wok or sauté pan over high heat until it starts to smoke and then add 2 tablespoons peanut oil. Add shallots and star anise and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add marinated lamb chunks and stir-fry until they start to turn brown.

Add rice wine and cook for 2 minutes, then add chili bean paste and stir-fry for a few seconds. Pour in stock and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and cook, uncovered, for 40 minutes.

Add parboiled potatoes and carrots and cook another 5 minutes, then stir in cornstarch paste to thicken stew; heat through for a minute or two. Serve immediately.