Sichuan-inspired spicy mutton stew. Spiciness glory

Sichuan-inspired spicy mutton stew.

It seems that I´ve been on a spicy wagon in the past few days – Korean, awesome Thai food with fabulous blog friends, and not to mention this fantastic mutton stew.

This is the first time I chanced upon mutton at the local butcher. Mutton, meat from mature sheep, is a fantastic cheap cut for stewing and braising. The slow cooking process helps to break down the tough and chewy muscle, yielding such soft and meaty awesomeness. Braising the meat is also a good way for the meat to absorb as much flavor from other seasoning as possible – In this case, a blend of Sichuan peppers, cinnamon, black cardamom, star anise.

Spices for Sichuan-inspired spicy mutton stew.

I am a big fan of Sichuan cooking, and this is such a perfect way to cook mutton. Some Asians don´t like the smell of lamb, and cooking it with lots of spices sort of helps to mask it. No, actually I think the smokiness of the spices enhances the mutton in a good way – the result is a smoky, meaty and perfectly tender meat.

You will notice a traditional Chinese cooking technique in this recipe. The meat is boiled briefly first then rinsed under water to remove impurities. It´s a reliable technique to get a somewhat clearer sauce or broth at the end.

Oh, and don´t skip the daikon.It helps to tone down the spiciness and add some lovely vegie goodness. Potatoes might be good, too.

Sichuan-inspired spicy mutton stew.

Sichuan-inspired spicy mutton stew

Like all stews, this dish tastes better the next day.

Ingredients (for at least 8-10 serves)

2kg mutton leg meat, cut into stewing pieces {can substitute with beef or lamb stewing meat}
5 garlics cloves, slices
thumb-sized ginger, sliced thickly
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
10 dried chili

Spices: 1 cinammon, 1 black cardamom, 1.5 tablespoons sichuan pepper, 1 star anise

Seasoning: 4 tablespoons chili bean sauce (toban djan), 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce, 1 tablespoon light soy sauce, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, one teaspoon or two sugar (to taste)

Others: 1 daikon, skinned and cut into pieces and some oil


First off, put all the spices in one muslin bag and tie up.

Put mutton pieces and just enough water to cover the dish. Bring to the boil, reduce the fire for about 5 minutes. Turn off the gas, take the meat out and skim the foam in the broth.

Bring the broth to simmer again while frying the meat with spices.

In a separate frying pan, heat up some oil. Add in the dried chili, ginger, garlic and onion and fry until fragrant. Stir occasionally.

Next up, put the meat into the frying pan together with all the seasonings. If the mixture is a bit too dry, add in some hot broth. Simmer until the meat is well coated with the seasoning.

Now, add the meat mixture to the hot broth together with the spice bag. Bring to the boil, then turn down the heat so the stew barely simmers. Place a piece of baking paper on top (to make sure the meat emegeres totally in the broth).

Let the stew simmer slowly until the meat is completely tender (mine took about 2 hours, but of course it depends the type of meat you use).

In the last 15 minutes, put in the daikon pieces. Cook until the daikon is soft and cooked through. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Serve hot with lots of rice and greens. I highly recommend a creamy dessert at the end!

36 Responses to Sichuan-inspired spicy mutton stew. Spiciness glory

  1. shaz says:

    Sounds delicious! I crave spicy food when it's cold. Funny how hard it is to get mutton here, I really like a good mutton curry.

  2. Phuoc'n Delicious says:

    HAHA When I saw your title I thought "Didn't you have enough already?" It was great to finally meet you. It's funny how the 4 of us got along like we've knew each other for years, strange hey?

  3. lilyng says:

    What effort you took to take this picture which made it more delicious

  4. Rosa's Yummy Yums says:

    A great blend of flavors! That dish looks scrumptious.

  5. WizzyTheStick says:

    How cute is that little bowl! I love mutton but usually have it curried. I love the spices in this.

  6. Ana Powell says:

    I love your cooking suggestions.

  7. Angie Lives to Eat (and Cook)! says:

    Oooo mutton, how interesting! Sounds like a perfect winter dish =)

  8. Hannah says:

    This looks amazing! I love spicy food!

  9. mademoiselle délicieuse says:

    Chinese people reckon eating mutton is great for winter, as they do with anything they find 'gamey'. I love how daikon soaks up all the juices and imparts a sweetness to the sauce. I've also had versions where bamboo shoots and water chestnuts are thrown in.

  10. Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets says:

    This sounds delicious. Love sichuan flavors!

  11. Ju (The Little Teochew) says:

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE your photography and styling! Of cos the dish looks perfect, but you just have a knack of choosing the right colours and props to enhance it. Fantastic job, Anh!

  12. Christine@Christine's Recipes says:

    Gorgeous pictures!

  13. food pixels says:

    Lovely recipe and very vibrant photos! Must try this, it sounds very good and I want to try this cooking technique ; I wonder do you serve this with rice or anything else, or just on its own?

  14. Anh says:

    Damino, rice is needed. And I also serve it with simple steamed greens. In our family, we also eat this stew with bread (Toasted or untoasted) and simple salad. It's quite versatile :)

  15. Cheah says:

    This stew looks so appetising! The pictures look good too, good photography!

  16. Ellie (Almost Bourdain) says:

    I love Sichuan food and this stew is fantastic :)

  17. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says:

    I'm not a huge mutton lover but I can definitely see myself using lamb in this. It looks great! 😀

  18. penny aka jeroxie says:

    Love sichuan food! Nice comforting stew :)

  19. john@heneedsfood says:

    I've never seen a mutton dish look so colourful. This kind of dish is right up my alley

  20. FFichiban says:

    Hmm this sounds perfect for these cold times, warm hearty spicy mutton!

  21. Faith says:

    What a lovely stew, Anh! Perfect for a chilly night. That picture of the spices is just gorgeous too.

  22. Food For Tots says:

    Although I'm not a big fan for lamb, the spice mix you used made me drool looking at your photo. 😉

  23. OohLookBel says:

    You have such gorgeous props – that green bowl is TDF! And the stew ain't bad either :)

  24. tigerfish says:

    This must be spicing up winter over there just right. I would definitely prefer daikon to potatoes in this stew.

  25. squirrelbread says:

    had mutton for the first time last year — smoked until falling apart at a restaurant in lexington, ky. amazing, not game-y at all. if i could find it in the stores, i'd definitely try your recipe!

  26. Little Corner of Mine says:

    Mmmm, what a yummy flavor. My mom actually cook a similar dish but with pork.

  27. redmenace says:

    You can count me in as a huge fan of spicy meats. This looks delicious! I'v never cooked mutton, but that won't stop me now!

  28. Celeste @ Berrytravels says:

    This sounds super yummy! Must try!

  29. marla {family fresh cooking} says:

    Your blog is beautiful and this stew looks delish! I like the idea of boiling the mutton first to get a clearer broth. This soup looks so healthy. Gorgeous photos!

  30. Kitchen Butterfly says:

    It looks like a good internal warming fix. With mutton it must be mighty tasty too and I didn't know about brief boiling meat and then rinsing….you learn everyday!

  31. maameemoomoo says:

    Spicy mutton stew.. Yums!

  32. Soma says:

    I cooked mutton today, but in a very Indian way. This dish sounds so unique with the wonderful blend of flavors. The technique is I have never heard of. worth a try.looks beautiful.

  33. Catherine says:

    Ooooh this looks gorgeous! I've never tried mutton before, I wonder if it would be as good with beef/pork? I also like mademoiselle délicieuse's suggestion of throwing a few water chestnuts in mmmh.

  34. Anh says:

    Catherine, all suggestions are great! I think beef or normal lamb would be good! Slow cooker is yes, too. I've tried it before

  35. Piggy says:

    oohh… looks so yum! Love the spices that went into the stew, I'm sure that they pair well with the mutton!

  36. Aruvqan says:

    Well, if you go by Soup for the Qan by Paul Buell, it is actually originally Mongolian and changed by the Chinese chefs to a more 'suitable' court recipe, and called Bal-Po soup. And yes it is quite tasty, even if us poor Americans have trouble getting mutton and have to make it with lamb.

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