Oriental Style Leg of Lamb. Open to Experimentation?

There are few meats more tasty than a roasted leg of Wicklow lamb, garlic and rosemary studded, cooked pink and served with a traditional gravy and boiled potatoes (with a green veg for form’s sake too). There are a few half decent recipes here on the blog for such like. However, I like to try out my ideas and I often (I really mean rarely) listen to suggestions from friends and family. So, when a friend suggested I should part roast and part steam a leg of lamb “low and slow”, I was delighted (reluctant) to try it.

I was enthused (dragged kicking and screaming) to try out a semi-steamed leg and I thought it might be enhanced (saved) by a good spice rub and a nice sauce finish. With all that in mind, I devised this Slow Roasted, Oriental Style, Leg of Lamb. It’s a cracker.

Oriental Leg of Lamb

The minimal ingredients bely a huge flavour.


  • 1 leg of best Wicklow lamb
  • 1 teaspoon of each of garlic salt, cumin powder, chilli powder and black pepper.
  • 2 tablespoons of good honey
  • 4 tablespoons of best quality, light soy sauce
Oriental Leg of Lamb

There was so little to do, I had time for a couple of decent photos.

Cut some slashes in the lamb. We just want to get through the top layer of fat and membrane so the spices have a chance to get at the top layer of meat while cooking. Mix together the dry ingredients. Rub the dry mixture into the lamb.

Oriental Leg of Lamb (6 of 13)

Don’t be afraid to give it a decent massage. It will add to the end result.

Put this on a rack, in a roasting pan and add a quarter litre 1/2 pint of water.

Oriental Leg of Lamb (7 of 13)

Adding the water went against my instincts for a nice leg of lamb.

Cover the roasting tray with a loose fitting tent of aluminium foil. This facilitates the steaming of the joint. I was happy (distraught)  to try this approach. Place it in a medium low (150ºC/300ºF) oven and leave it there for three hours. Remove it from the oven and baste the meat with the juices from the pan. Return it to the oven for another hour, uncovered.

Oriental Leg of Lamb (9 of 13)

At this stage I was getting nervous of the outcome.

Mix together the soy and honey. Remove the lamb from the oven. Baste the lamb with the mixture and return to the oven, uncovered.

Oriental Leg of Lamb (8 of 13)

I apologise. I couldn’t resist this shot. You can see my finger tips through the honey!

Baste the lamb with the tray mixture twice or three times more over the next hour.

Oriental Leg of Lamb (10 of 13)

At this stage, I knew we were on to a winner.

Remove the lamb from the oven and place it on a chopping board, getting value from that aluminium foil by wrapping the lamb in it. Pass the tray sauce through a separator to remove the layer of fat. Reduce it down by about half until you have a delicious, salty/sweet sauce.

Carve the lamb and serve it with something vaguely Oriental, such as a nice fried rice. That’s what I did. It is delicious and really comes into it’s own when a generous splash of the sauce is added.

Oriental Leg of Lamb (12 of 13)

Low and slow wins against fast and pink in this experiment.

I have lost my skepticism about slow roasted leg of lamb. This is a delight an is really easy to do. It won’t replace the traditional “lamb roasted pink” but there is room for another approach in my growing leg of lamb repertoire. It also shows that I am delighted (grudgingly accepting) to prove my friend right.

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Latest comments
  • I never associate lamb with oriental flavours, but I really like the sound of this. I might, though, give this sauce a go with some leg steaks first, rather than a whole leg… Great honey shot, by the way!

  • You really went to town with action shots this time!! Liquid streams and cascading spice captured in space/time. Beautifully done. How did you mange to get perfect exposure of the meat etc in the same shot? Double exposures? If the full technical details are inappropriate for general consumption, please send to my email address. The lamb looks salivatingly good too!!

  • a masterpiece of a recipe, coupled with a masterpiece of writing! I was smiling my way through it, particularly the “between parenthesis” remarks… brilliant…

    grudgingly accepting – I can definitely understand that.

    but, as you might remember, I enjoyed some different take on lamb not too long ago, so I will happily (truly) try your method next!

  • Oh yes, Conor! Sadly no Wicklow lamb here and the supermarket ‘stuff’ will have to do but so love both the steaming (half my food served does get that treatment!) and the little bit of Asian . . . have to try: garlic salt instead of salt and ‘real’ garlic, cumin but not its sister coriander . . . SO interesting! Lamb and ‘oriental flavours’ – I have cooked Asian 4-5 days a week all my life and lamb has always been my main protein . . . all the best curries from whichever country seem to use it and all the other dishes. . . truly thanks for this inspiration !

  • Oooh, I wish I was coming to dinner.

      • Ireland always is “next on our list”!

  • This approach is not unlike starting with sous vide and finishing in the oven 🙂 There are ovens (called combi ovens) that allow you to regulate the relative humidity (or simply said, add steam) without the use of a container with water and an foil tent just to prepare dishes this way. I want my next oven to be one of those, especially for bread baking. Love the pouring shots!

  • A lovely lamb cook. Having had the pleasure of eating lamb prepared many ways in my visits to China, I know that flavor that Asian spices bring to lamb and quite like it. I’ll be saving this one for a spring lamb leg soon to arrive.

  • Oh I love your side comments! I cook my turkeys this way. Covered with the liquid in the bottom and then roast for the last bit. Comes out so moist and the gravy is just about made. I hadn’t thought to do this with lamb though. I’m going to have to try this out.

  • All of your Asian inspired recipes sound so good. Your kitchen must have been filled with the most wonderful aromas as your lamb slowly cooked.

  • Your lamb, inspired by your friend, looks absolutely delicious! I have never used Soy with lamb but it sounds amazing. I am glad it worked out and perfect for sharing 🙂

      • I have used the combination of soy with honey on pork but never lamb but I will now 🙂

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