This is my quick and easy recipe for Xi'an-style Spicy Cumin Lamb Noodles. Sliced lamb and thick-cut noodles flavoured with aromatic cumin and a mixture of spices and homemade chili oil.
This post first appeared on Sift & Simmer in June 2018. Updated Feb 2021.
If you're a long-time reader of my blog, you will know that my love for all noodles knows no bounds.
I'm sure if I had it my way, my last meal on Earth would be some type of noodles.
And make that some kind of SPICY noodles.
Especially, these mouthwatering, Xi'an-style Spicy Cumin Lamb Noodles.
What are Spicy Cumin Lamb Noodles?
Spicy Cumin Lamb Noodles is a dish from Northern China with lamb meat and Sichuan peppercorn spice mixture, made from a characteristically thick, wide wheat flour noodle.
The thick noodles are also known as "biang biang noodles."
What are "biang biang" noodles?
The character "biang" is considered one of the most complicated Chinese characters to write, with 58 strokes.
"Biang biang" is said to come from the sound of the noodles being slapped against the table, which is the manner in how the noodles are made.
The "biang biang" noodles are typically hand-made, rustic-looking and broad in shape.
They're much thicker than wonton or egg noodles.
Where did the dish come from?
Spicy Cumin Lamb Noodles originated from the Xi'an region of China.
Xi'an is the capital city in the Shaanxi province, located in north western China.
Shaanxi cuisine is known for its use of pork/lamb/mutton in its dishes, as well as heavier flavours such as cumin.
Think Chinese food with Muslim influences, which actually dates back to the Tang Dynasty.
What do the noodles taste like?
This Spicy Cumin Lamb noodle dish is spicy, flavourful and packs a real punch.
Sichuan peppercorns give the noodles a numbing sensation.
The noodles are thick and chewy, alternating with the crunch from the bean sprouts and onions.
In addition, the lamb meat is savoury and mops up all of that fragrant spice mixture.
How to make these noodles at home
The ground cumin and Sichuan peppercorn spice mixture is the key to flavouring the lamb meat for these noodles.
Spicy, aromatic, and tingly, these noodles are truly flavourful and not for the faint of heart.
Ingredients in the spice mixture
- cumin seed: sometimes confused with caraway, cumin has a earthy, warming flavour that is also used commonly in Mexican and Indian cuisine. Best to use whole cumin seed and grind prior to using.
- Sichuan peppercorn: also known a "mala pepper," it has a numbing, tingly sensation and is used commonly in Ma Po tofu and Sichuan dishes; it does come in red and green varieties. Again, use whole peppercorn and grind.
- white peppercorn: actually start out as black peppercorns, and have their exterior skin removed after soaking; they can be more potent than their black counterpart.
- fennel seed: is a small lightly green/beige oval seed that is aromatic and has an anise flavour.
- coriander seed: is a small round seed from the coriander/cilantro plant; has a lemony citrus flavour.
This spice mixture is used to marinate the lamb meat, as well as a sprinkled garnish.
The cumin is bold, warming and pungent and the Sichuan peppercorn adds a spicy, tingling feeling to your taste buds.
For the lamb:
If you have access to thin-sliced lamb meat (hot-pot style), use that. It will save you lots of time!
Otherwise, my tip is to freeze the lamb for 1 hour, and then use a sharp knife to make thin slices.
Marinate the lamb with the spice mixture, as well as some soy sauce and cornstarch and let it sit (to soak in the flavours).
My cheat: use store-bought noodles
You can make the "biang biang" noodles from scratch.
Or, if you're like me and always pressed for time, I've got a short-cut cheater's version for you.
If you're in Canada, I used T&T Supermarket's broad thick-cut noodles (in the frozen section) for this recipe.
It will save you time and effort, especially if you're looking to make this for a weeknight meal.
You may be able to find broad/thick-cut noodles at your local Asian grocery store.
Do I need to use thick-cut noodles?
To enjoy the full essence of the dish, I highly suggest using thick-cut/broad wheat noodles.
Of course, if you have other wheat noodles on hand, you can substitute with that instead.
Where can I find the spices?
You can find most of the spices at Asian supermarkets, or try East Indian grocery stores.
How to serve & store
Serve the Spicy Cumin Lamb Noodles immediately.
Note: Mung bean sprouts do wilt and disintegrate after time, so it's best to finish the noodles within a day or two.
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days.
You can reheat the noodles in the microwave for about 1 minute, until the noodles are steaming hot.
Other recipes you may like
Are you a fan of spice? Be sure to try out these other recipes:
SunButter Spicy Dan Dan Noodles
Mom's Sarawak-Style Laksa With Homemade Laksa Paste
Delicious, chewy, thick noodles doused in a spicy tingly chili oil with shreds of cumin-scented gamey lamb permeating through -- this will definitely change the way you look at Chinese noodles.
They're literally one of my favourite noodles to eat now, aside from Taiwanese Beef Noodles and Vietnamese Beef Pho.
Let me know if you try this recipe for Xi'an-style Spicy Cumin Lamb noodles! Tag me on Instagram @siftandsimmer or leave me a comment/rating below and tell me your favourite style of noodles. 🙂
Spicy Xi'an-Style Cumin Lamb Noodles
For accuracy and precision in baking recipes, use weight (metric) measurements when available.
- 2 tablespoon cumin seeds whole
- 1 tablespoon sichuan peppercorns whole
- ¼ teaspoon white peppercorns whole
- 1 teaspoon fennel seed whole
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds whole
- ½ lb lamb leg thinly sliced against the grain
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 3 tablespoon light soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 teaspoon Chinese black vinegar
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil or vegetable oil
- 8 cloves garlic minced
- 2 stalks green onion chopped
- 1 red onion thinly sliced
- 1 C bean sprouts washed and drained
- 1 Serrano chili de-seeded, finely chopped, optional
- 1 pkg (600g) thick-cut/broad wheat noodles
- ¼ C chopped cilantro
- 2 tablespoon chopped green onion
- chili oil for serving
Make the spice mixture:
- Place the cumin seeds, Sichuan peppercorns, white peppercorn, fennel and coriander seed into a coffee grinder and blitz until you obtain a fine powder.
- Dump the mixture into a small bowl and set aside.
Marinate the lamb meat:
- In a large bowl, place the sliced lamb, 1 teaspoon cornstarch, ¼ teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, and 2 tablespoon of the ground cumin powder mixture from above.
- Mix the meat thoroughly. Cover and place in the fridge to marinate for 2 hours (for maximum flavour). If you don't have time, marinate the meat for a minimum of 20 minutes.
Cook the noodles:
- Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil.
- Add in the thick-cut noodles and cook according to the package directions, about 2-3 minutes.
- Drain the noodles and set aside.
Make the sauce:
- In a bowl, combine the soy sauce, salt, sesame oil and black vinegar. Give it a stir and set aside.
Stir-fry the noodles:
- Heat a wok or large pan with 1 tablespoon avocado oil. Add in the minced garlic, green onion and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Next, add in the sliced marinated lamb and cook, stirring constantly for about 3-4 minutes.
- Add in the red onions, bean sprouts and Serrano chili and sauté for another minute before adding the noodles.
- Pour in the soy sauce mixture. Use a pair of tongs to coat all the noodles with the sauce.
- Remove from heat, add a heaping spoonful of chili oil and garnish with chopped cilantro and green onion. Sprinkle with additional ground cumin mixture if desired.
- Serve the cumin lamb noodles immediately.
The nutritional information provided should be considered as approximate and is not guaranteed. Please use your best judgment to ensure food is safely prepared and/or a good fit for your diet.
Kim | Give it Some Thyme
These spicy cumin lamb noodles look and sound so hearty and delicious! We are huge fans of lamb and love cumin. Combining them with thick noodles is even better! A must-make recipe for sure!
Thanks Kim, it's such a belly-warming dish! 🙂
Katherine | Love In My Oven
These noodles look absolutely delicious. Love that little bit of spice!
Thanks Katherine! The spices and chili oil really brings the dish together 🙂
Oh my, Michelle! These look and sound so tasty, I just want to reach through the screen! I appreciate your historical background on this dish, too! So good to understand how the names of noodles describe them. So helpful! This spice profile and texture of noodle is right up my alley! Thanks so much!
Thank you so much Laura! Glad to connect with you 🙂
Dawn - Girl Heart Food
Hubby and I have been really enjoy noodles lately and these look like a must try!! They look perfectly spiced and just what I want on a cold winter day. YUM!!
Yay, thanks so much Dawn! They definitely do warm you up on a winter's day! 🙂
Ben | Havocinthekitchen
What a delicious, inviting, earthy, and hearty dish! I am not familiar with a term "biang biang noodles", but I love the thickness and rustic look of the noodles you've used. This make them look homey (in my book), but they have the restaurant-quality flavour profile. Or, actually, much better - I am still looking for a restaurant that can offer a better pasta / noodles than the homemade one 🙂
Thank you Ben! The thick noodles are essential in mopping up all that flavourful sauce and chili oil 🙂
MMMM I could slurp those noodles right up they look so good Michelle!
Thank you Christie -- I know these noodles are up your alley! 🙂
Heidi | The Frugal Girls
That was a great tip for how to thin slice the lamb. This biang biang noodle dish looks so totally tasty!!
Thank you Heidi! Glad you liked the tip! 🙂
I didn't know cumin is used in Chinese cuisine. What a beautiful dish with lamb. I am not used to eating lamb meat but this noodles sounds really good, especially with those thick cut noodles. Looks scrumptious.
Thanks Holly! Lamb is definitely an acquired taste, but the cumin really flavours it well 🙂
Tasia ~ two sugar bugs
Oh my Michelle! These noodles look so darn inviting with that gorgeous lamb sauce! Loving the spices and everything about this recipe!
Thank you Tasia! 🙂
I absolutely love lamb, and these noodles look amazing! I can't wait to try them for dinner soon!
These lamb noodles were amazing! Definitely adding to my dinner rotation.
Cumin + Lamb is always an immediate five star review. Thank you for the recipe.
Glad you enjoyed it Neli! 🙂
Enjoyed this for dinner last night and it does not disappoint! So unique and unexpected; easily, a new favorite recipe in my home!
Amazing to hear, Sara! It comes together quickly 🙂
What a wonderful dish! I loved all the different textures and flavours. Definitely a keeper!
Thanks for your feedback, Courtney! 🙂 Thrilled you liked it!
Wow! This looks amazing and so delicious! My family is going to love this recipe! So excited to give this a try!
This is exactly that kind of hot and spicy noodles I like! I would add some ghost pepper for the heat.
Delicious! Thank you Michelle!
Ghost pepper would be an amazing spicy addition to the noodles! Will have to try that. Thanks Linsey!
How can I store the uncooked dough for next day or 2.
Do you mean uncooked noodles? Depending if you're using fresh or dried -- if fresh, you can store uncooked noodles in the fridge.