These boldly flavored Cumin Lamb Noodles are just as delicious as the restaurant version but use much more accessible ingredients. Made with tender lamb shoulder and toasted spices, you’re going to want to make this for more than just special occasions!
I teamed up with the American Lamb board to bring you this post. As always, all opinions are my own.
If you’ve ever had the chance to explore New York City, chances are you’ve heard of Xi’an Famous Foods. This NYC institution is known for its unique dishes, including their homemade Cumin Lamb Noodles. Hand pulled noodles are drenched in shredded lamb, spices, chili oil, and sauce to create a truly special, boldly flavored dish.
It was a real treat to make this recipe for spicy cumin lamb noodles at home. I used accessible ingredients and familiar flavors that any home cook will love. Hand pulled noodles are a signature at Xi’an Famous Foods, but using regular wide noodles made this version much easier and less time consuming.
What are Chinese cumin lamb noodles?
These Chinese cumin lamb noodles are a copycat of the original recipe from Xi’an Famous Foods in New York City. Shredded lamb shoulder is cooked and seasoned with Sichuan peppercorns, cumin seeds, onions, peppers, and chili oil before being combined with flat noodles. According to Eater.com, this recipe and its bold flavors are familiar in the Xi’an province of China but were tweaked and perfected by the restaurant owner’s family.
Using the right lamb for cumin noodles
Thinly sliced American Lamb Shoulder is an absolute must! This fatty cut is used in the traditional recipe because of its intense and rich flavor. Leaner cuts, like leg of lamb or lamb shanks, won’t work as well. Sometimes lamb shoulder is hard to find, so feel free to use regular lamb rib chops or shoulder chops instead.
Here’s why I choose American Lamb:
- By choosing American Lamb, you’re supporting local farmers and ranchers throughout the US.
- Raising lamb in the US is a family affair with more than 80,000 family owned operations.
- Sheep improve pasture quality by recycling vital nutrients back into the soil, minimizing erosion and encouraging plant growth.
- The majority of sheep in the states graze pastures for most of their lives.
How to make copycat cumin lamb noodles
Start by toasting the cumin seeds and Sichuan peppercorns in a skillet over medium-low heat to enhance their rich aromas. After a few minutes, transfer them to a mortar and pestle and grind them into a powder.
Cook the wide noodles in a pot of boiling water according to the package instructions. Make sure to save 1 cup of pasta cooking water to help thicken the spicy sauce later on.
Use a large wok or skillet to saute the ginger and garlic over medium heat. Turn the heat to high and add the sliced lamb, making sure to move it around constantly so it doesn’t stick to the pan. Add the ground spices, onions, peppers, soy sauce, chili oil, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, and sugar.
To finish, add the cooked noodles into the skillet. Toss to coat and season with salt for an added boost. Serve the cumin noodles in bowls with cilantro and a drizzle of chili oil, then enjoy!
Tips and tricks
- I strongly recommend making this recipe with cumin seeds and peppercorns rather than ground spices. They need to be toasted and ground by hand to really bring out the rich aromas this dish is meant to have.
- Cumin lamb noodles are meant to be spicy! It won’t be loaded with heat like my Spicy Beef Chili but should be spicy enough to make your mouth water (in the best way possible).
- If the lamb and spice mixture is getting too thick in your wok, add a splash of water to loosen it up.
- Ready to take this recipe up a notch? Try making your own hand pulled noodles to really help with the authenticity!
What to serve with spicy cumin lamb noodles:
You can easily serve these noodles on their own for a tasty main dish but if the spices are a little too much for you, these refreshing sides will pair nicely:
- Thai Cucumber Salad
- Daikon Radish Salad
- Cold Cucumber Soup
- Air Fried Brussels Sprouts
- Fennel and Celery Salad
Wine pairings for cumin noodles:
- Light bodied reds or Pinot Noir will play well with the spices.
- The hint of sweetness in a Dry Riesling will help to tone down the spicy flavors while the acidity complements the dish’s boldness.
If you loved these Cumin Lamb Noodles I would appreciate it so much if you would give it a star review! Also, be sure to snap a picture of your finished dish and share it with me on Instagram using the hashtag #platingsandpairings and tagging me @platingsandpairings.
More lamb recipes:
- Slow Cooker Lamb Curry
- Marinated Lamb Chops with Rosemary & Garlic
- Grilled Lamb Kebabs with Basil Tahini Sauce
- Broiled Lamb Chops with Mint Mustard Sauce
- Sheet Pan Lamb Dinner
- Grilled Lamb Chops with Spicy Peanut Sauce
- Instant Pot Pasta with Lamb & Mint
- Grilled Rack of Lamb with Pistachio Basil Pesto
More flavorful noodle dishes to try
- Kung Pao Noodles
- Thai Noodle Soup
- Dan Dan Noodles
- Sesame Noodles with Chicken
- Drunken Noodles (Pad Kee Mao)
Cumin Lamb Noodles
- 2 1/2 Tablespoons cumin seeds
- 1 Tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns
- 1 16-ounce package wide rice noodles
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 Tablespoon garlic (minced)
- 1 Tablespoon ginger (minced)
- 1 pound American Lamb Shoulder (thinly sliced)
- 3 green onions (roughly chopped)
- 1 yellow onion (halved and thinly sliced)
- 1 serrano pepper (finely chopped, optional)
- 3 Tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 Tablespoon chili oil
- 1 Tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1/2 cup cilantro (minced)
- 1 Tablespoon sesame seeds
- Chili oil (for serving)
- Heat a skillet over medium-low heat and toast the cumin and sichuan peppercorns for about 2-3 minutes. Coarsely grind the spices in a spice grinder or mortar & pestle. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook your noodles according to the package instructions. Reserve about 1 cup of your pasta cooking liquid. Drain the pasta, and set aside.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a large wok or skillet over medium heat. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Turn the heat to high and add the sliced lamb. Stir-fry the lamb until just browned. Add the ground spice mixture, green onions, yellow onion, serrano pepper, soy sauce, chili oil, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar and sugar. Let cook for about 5 minutes, adding a splash of water if the mixture becomes too thick.
- Add the cooked noodles to the skillet, adding additional pasta cooking liquid if needed and toss to coat. Season with salt, if needed.
- Serve garnished with cilantro and drizzled with chili oil. Enjoy!