Beijing Lamb Skewers

Indulge in the unforgettable experience of savoring succulent Beijing lamb skewers, the dish that can take you back to the nostalgic memories of a trip to the bustling city, where the smoky aroma of the street barbecue tantalizes your senses and leaves an everlasting impression on your palate.

Old Beijing predominated over new in those days. The smoke and smell from that impromptu street barbecue are the only things I can recall from my time in that city; I can’t even recall its shiny malls or enormous skyscrapers.

Lamb skewers, or yangrou chuan, are a traditional dish in Beijing and a favorite among many people in the Northern Chinese region.

Lamb that’s been grilled until it’s spicy, crispy, and fatty. That’s the gist of it, anyway. For numerous examples, see our post on the street food of Xi’an.

I opted to experiment with home production. The weather is perfect for outdoor cooking.


  • 450g of lamb shoulder chops
  • 1 tablespoon of dried chili flakes
  • 1 tablespoon of oil
  • 2 teaspoons of cumin seeds
  • bamboo skewers (soak in water for at least an hour)
  • salt (to taste)


  1. To prepare the chops, cut the meat away from the bone and dice it up. The lamb should have all of its fat left on. The flavor you’re after can be found here. The lamb should be placed in a large bowl.
  2. Put some salt, chili flakes, cumin, and cumin seeds in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Crush it all up, breaking up the chili flakes and cumin seeds. Combine the lamb with the oil and about half of the spices (the remaining half will be used for sprinkling after the lamb has finished cooking).
  3. The lamb should be skewered now. Prepare a smoking fire in your grill. Cook the skewers on the grill until they have a nice char.
  4. Place on a serving dish and season further as desired. Serve!
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