15g/½oz fresh root ginger, peeled and very finely sliced
4 garlic cloves, very finely sliced
1 tbsp vegetable oil
For the sauce
1 tbsp honey or light brown soft sugar
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
2 tbsp mirin or rice wine
1 tbsp rice vinegar
For the carrot garnish
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp caster sugar
1 large carrot, cut into matchsticks
½ tsp salt
12 small or 8 medium fresh bao buns
4 spring onions, halved lengthways and finely shredded
small bunch fresh coriander, leaves picked
small bunch fresh mint, leaves picked
Preheat the oven to 160C/140C Fan/Gas 3. To make the rub, roughly crush the Sichuan peppercorns using a pestle and mortar, then mix in a small bowl with all the other rub ingredients to make a paste.
To make the lamb, cut 1–2cm slits all over the meat. Push slivers of the ginger and garlic into the slits, then liberally coat all sides of the lamb with the paste, pushing some of it into the slits too. Place the lamb in a roasting tin and pour 500ml/18fl oz of water around it. Cover with kitchen foil.
Roast the lamb for about 4 hours, or until the meat is tender and pulls apart easily. Test by pulling on the bone – if it starts to come away very easily and cleanly, the lamb should be tender. Start checking after 3 hours. Remove the lamb from the oven and shred the meat with a couple of forks, removing any large pieces of fat.
To make the sauce, whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl or jug and taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper as necessary.
To finish the lamb, heat a frying pan over medium/high heat and add the oil. Add the shredded lamb, then drizzle over 3 tablespoons of the sauce. Heat through until the sauce has reduced around the lamb and is starting to caramelise.
To make the carrot garnish, put the rice vinegar and sugar in a bowl with the salt and mix until the sugar has dissolved. Add the carrots and toss to combine.
For the bao buns, prepare a steamer, either a bamboo or metal. When the water is boiling, make sure each bun is on a square of greaseproof paper, then add to the steamer basket – you will probably have to do this in 2–3 batches, depending on the size of the steamer. It’s fine for the buns to touch, but make sure they aren’t squashed together. Steam the buns for 8–10 minutes until cooked through and puffed up.
Serve the lamb in the bao buns with more of the sauce drizzled over and garnish with the carrot, spring onions, coriander and mint.
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