Hong Kong Style Chinese Braised Lamb Casserole (zhi zhu yangrou bao, 枝竹羊肉煲 or foo jook yeung yuk bo in Cantonese), is a popular Cantonese dish perfect for the last few winter months. The subtle flavor of the casserole really lets the individual ingredients shine through.
This is a telltale sign of a good, traditional Cantonese dish (unlike Shanghainese cuisine which relies on strong soy sauce flavors with dishes like Shanghai-Style Braised Pork Belly and Sichuan cuisine, which relies on lots of chilies and numbing “ma la” peppercorns––see Ma Po Tofu, for example).
Lamb: Winter Food in Certain Parts of China
Did you know that Chinese people actually have a tradition of eating lamb to ward off the damp chill of winter? It’s believed that consuming lamb in the late fall and winter improves blood circulation and warms the body. This is especially good for people who are always complaining about being cold.
I know I probably sound like a crazy Chinese grandmother when I share these supposed health benefits with you all, but it can’t hurt, right?
I actually used to hate lamb, but now I absolutely love it. I think it had something to do with the fact that I never tried lamb growing up in Shanghai.
It was more common in Northern China. But today, migrant workers from all over China have transformed the food scene in the big cities from regional to national in scope.
BBQ lamb skewers or (yang rou chuan, 羊肉串) can be found on street corners in big cities across China, and roasted lamb dishes can be found on most restaurant menus. Check out some of our other lamb recipes like: Spicy Cumin Lamb Biang Biang Noodles, Xinjiang Lamb Rice, and Cumin Lamb – A Classic Xinjiang Recipe.
Lamb Breast is Best for This Chinese Casserole
For this Chinese braised lamb casserole recipe, you can use lamb, mutton or goat, but the best cut is the breast. It cooks down to tender perfection.
To find lamb breast, look for a Halal meat market near you, and have them trim and cut the meat for you. If you can’t find lamb breast, you can try lamb shoulder, another cut that is often used in stews.
Let’s get started!
Chinese Lamb Casserole: Recipe Instructions
Start by gathering all your ingredients. (Continue scrolling for our recipe instructions with step-by-step photos. You’ll see the full list of ingredients in the recipe card at the bottom of the post.)
Boil enough water to blanch the lamb. Once the water is boiled, add the lamb and 4 slices of ginger. Bring to a boil, and cook for 1 more minute. Turn off the heat, and drain and rinse the lamb clean. Set aside.
Stir and let everything cook for a couple minutes, using medium low heat.
Next, turn the heat back up, and add the lamb, stirring to coat the lamb evenly in the sauce.
Add in the star anise (if using), the Shaoxing wine, dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, oyster sauce, tangerine peel, dried Shiitake mushrooms, the mushroom water, and enough additional water to just cover all of the ingredients.
Cover and bring to a boil. Then immediately turn down the heat to simmer for 1 hour over medium/low heat. Stir the stew every 20 minutes to prevent sticking.
While the lamb is simmering, prepare the carrots, bamboo shoots, and bean threads/sticks. Also, wash the lettuce, shake off any excess water, and place in the bottom of a large serving bowl.
Here’s a photo of what a peeled fresh bamboo shoot should look like, for reference:
Cook for another 15-20 minutes over medium heat until the carrots are softened. If you still have too much liquid, cook the stew with the lid off for the last 10 minutes. Salt to taste, stir in the green parts of the scallions, and serve the Chinese braised lamb casserole on your prepared bed of lettuce.
The lettuce at the bottom of the will soften and cook from the heat of the lamb stew to delicious and well-balanced effect!
Serve your Chinese braised lamb immediately with plenty of white rice!