For those who want lamb but cannot constantly afford to buy the prime cuts such as racks, loins and chops (aka. students/unemployed young adults with a penchant for good food), the belly is the next best thing. Packed with lots of flavour due to its high fat content, when done properly, this cut of meat can be tender and succulent. Best of all, it is cheap. You can buy a frozen pack of cubed lamb belly for HK$50, significantly less than other prime cuts of lamb. However, the taste of the belly can sometimes be a bit overpowering, and so, it is important to balance the protein with an equally strong-tasting spice rub – in this case, a Middle Eastern inspired marinade. The result is a smokey, exotic grilled lamb dish that tastes incredible.
Don’t bother going to the supermarket to buy bottles of fancy spices, it is a waste of money. Simply use whatever you find in your kitchen. Everyone has a stash of dried herbs and spices that are purchased on a whim and have never been touched since. Anything that balances out the strong flavour of the lamb works – cinnamon and cumin are your best options, but you can just dig out whatever spices you have at the back of the shelf and improvise accordingly. Here is my recipe, but feel free to change it.
For the lamb
- 1 pack lamb belly (Defrosted)
- 1 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1/2 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
- 1 tsp dried rosemary
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp dried fennel seeds
- 2 tbsp red chilli powder
- 2 tbsp cumin powder
- 1 clove garlic, finely diced
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- Liberal amounts of salt and pepper
For the sauce
- 2 tbsp Greek Yogurt
- A pinch of Creole spice mix
- 1 tbsp Lamb drippings
- In a bowl, season the lamb liberally with salt and pepper, then add in the dried fennel seeds, dried rosemary, dried thyme and leave to rest for 10 minutes.
- In a separate bowl, combine the remaining spices, diced garlic with the olive oil and blend. Pour the mixture over the lamb and leave to marinade for at least 1 hour.
- On medium heat, sear the surface of the lamb until it is caramelized with some olive oil.
- Preheat your oven to 180C. Place the seared lamb on tin foil and form a pouch. Ensure that the lamb is not exposed and cook for 10 minutes.
- Increase the heat to 205C, open up the parcel and return the lamb to the oven for another 5 minutes. Once done, allow the meat to rest.
- While the meat is resting, prepare the sauce. Combine the yogurt with a pinch of the Creole mix and the lamb drippings. The rendered fat is also delicious with rice, or as a dipping sauce for bread.
- Serve immediately.