An Idiots’ Guide to Oriental Lamb Shanks with Sauce

I love this stuff. Imagine if I had moved an apostrophe in “Idiots’” above. Then I would be saying, in a self-deprecating way, that I am an imbecile and that this is my guide to Oriental Lamb Shanks with Sauce. But, I’m not saying that. I am saying that this is a recipe which any fool, klutz or cretin has the wherewithal to prepare. If you don’t believe me or if you are still doubting your own prowess in the kitchen department, read on my friend, read on…

I may be many things, but an idiot I am not. Would someone so encumbered bring something this tasty to you? I doubt it in the same way that I don’t doubt my  righteousness in cooking this. Lamb shanks continue to be undervalued. The shank can take on lots of additional flavour from Oriental ingredients without being overwhelmed. In this case, the slow cooking produces a wonderfully tender piece of lamb with the added benefit of huge flavour and a delightfully complementary sauce. The short ingredients list is a bonus too.


  • 2 lamb shanks
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 5cm of ginger
  • 1 red chilli
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 250 ml of good chicken stock
  • 2 teaspoons of Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt

Heat a cast iron frying pan to medium. Add the peppercorns and toast them until they darken in colour and give off a lovely earthy fragrance. Remove them from the pan and grind in a mortar.

Another action shot to add to my collection. Sichuan peppercorns have so much flavour.

Add a little oil to the pan and brown the lamb shanks. Bash the garlic and chop roughly. Do likewise with the ginger. Roughly chop the chilli.

This is so easy to prepare. I’m almost embarrassed to show it to you.

Add all the seasoning ingredients to a casserole dish. Add the lamb shanks and turn them in the mixture to coat. Sprinkle the Sichuan pepper on top. Place a lid on the casserole and pop this into a 170ºC oven for three and a half hours to four hours. After an hour or so, turn the shanks and baste them with the sauces. Repeat every half hour or so.

Be gentle lifting the lamb out or it will fall apart.

When the lamb is cooked (You will know it is cooked because your neighbours will have called in to find the source of the lovely cooking aromas) the meat will be very tender and will be in danger of falling off the bones. Turn the oven off. Gently lift the lamb from the sauce and place on a plate in the cooling oven. Put the casserole on the stovetop and bring the sauce to a boil. This should thicken quite rapidly. Strain the sauce and remove the layer of fat from the surface (I use a separator). Serve the shanks with your choice of rice / noodles / potatoes and be sure to pour over plenty of the sauce. The lamb takes on lots of the flavours and the sauce brings them to life in mouth-watering, “feed me more” kind of way. I have to highly recommend this both for the perceived improvement in your IQ and for the amazing flavours.

You will feel a surge of intelligence as you pour on this sauce.

Footnote on idiocy; If you really are an idiot, you can elevate yourself to “approaching average intelligence” or at worst “he/she may be a dolt but he/she sure knows how to cook”. So, preparing this will be good for your reputation either way. Give it a go.

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Latest comments
  • Whatever you meant, Conor, it still has to have an apostrophe to be grammatically correct and make any sense! Put it after the ‘s’ to pluralise it and make it mean what you want it to mean.

    Regardless of its grammatical failings, this non-idiot thinks that recipe looks glorious and will be making it as soon as she can lay her hands on some decent lamb shanks! 😊

  • Great! I love lamb shanks and everything Asian 🙂

  • This looks very luscious indeed. Because I am a wimp, I’ll be trying this with a bit of star anise and about a quarter of the amount of Sichuan pepper…

  • I thought that in Ireland the word was speeled “eedjit”?

  • oh, too funny! I think my IQ raised a few points by reading (and understanding) your recipe….

    interestingly enough, I was starting to compose a post about lamb shanks in the slow cooker, only to find out I already blogged about the exact same recipe a few years ago.

    such is life. You know you’ve been blogging for too long when……


  • Look…The extra gravy I like! One can never have too much gravy. Or lamb!

  • (That’s supposed to be ‘Oooo’, not ‘Look!

  • That looks like beautiful lamb!

      • It made me feel hungry looking at it!

  • My IQ went up 10 points just by looking at the sexy…um…no…BRILLIANT…pepper pouring shot! 😉 Wish I had access to some amazing lamb for this. I may have to give it a go with some beef short ribs.

  • Awesome photography… I do just LOVE lamb shanks! One of the best parts of the critter. Thanks for posting, and I wish you could have shared, but I believe I’m an ocean away.

  • Actually saying ‘hello;’ for the second time 🙂 ! Well, I either became an idiot, however you may want to spell it, or ceased being one, in my early twenties: favourite meat: lamb, favourite cut: shanks, favourite cooking style five days our of seven: Asian !! You have just published a recipe for my own particular ‘soul food’ !! Have never used Szechwan peppercorns tho’ absolutely love them and most certainly cannot get the quality of shanks which seem to be par for the course in Ireland. Our grass-fed mob seem to have leaner legs . . . hmm, you know my garlic and soy will be a twee bit heavy-handed . . . 🙂 ! . . .

  • My expressive abilities are lacking 🙂 ! This house is never without Szechwan peppercorns – I just have not had the wisdom to use them in this dish . . . I do learn . . .

  • Oh, that looks divine. Though I always feel like The Flintstones when serving shanks!

  • This is going in my slow cooker as we speak Connor, and I’ve not varied it so if it doesn’t tantalise my taste buds I’ll be sending the Mrs. over the channel to rectify the problem 🙂
    But thanks in advance

  • Definitely no idiocy here, delicious! What’s your technique for your action shots? They are beautiful.

      • I loathe this time of year where natural light is so scarce. I never use flash but the overhead lights aren’t my friend.

  • Perfect timing Conor. I recently bought jars of star anise and Sichuan peppercorns with no idea what I would be using them for. I’m pinning your recipe and using my new ingredients as soon as I can buy lamb shanks.

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