From the Archives: Spicy Chinese-Style Cumin Lamb Skewers


Combining Middle-Eastern and Chinese influences, these grilled lamb kebabs are flavored with cumin and soy sauce. [Photograph: Joshua Bousel]

Have you ever gone so long without a shower that you transcend the B.O. phase and enter a state of great-smelling armpit nirvana? Um, yeah, me neither...I was just testing you.

This is a phenomenon, though, that I've observed with the combination of lamb and cumin. See, lamb has its own natural funk, a gaminess that many of us love (and a few unfortunately delicate souls claim to hate). And cumin—well, cumin may be the B.O.-iest smelling spice to ever grace our tables.

You'd expect the two to amplify each other in a malodorous crescendo, but instead they manage to lift each other beyond that state, to an über-fragrance that is straight-up intoxicating. That's the overall effect you can expect from these lamb kebabs, which are marinated with cumin, soy sauce, and crushed red pepper.

If the presence of soy sauce here seems out of place for an otherwise Middle-Eastern flavor profile, that's because these aren't Middle Eastern at all: They're inspired by the flavors of northwestern China, where ingredients from the lands that lie east and west meld in an astonishingly delicious way. For proof, just look at lamb and cumin. Or armpits and extended periods of not bathing...if you're into that sort of thing.

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