This recipe creates moist and tender lamb with minimal cooking time. In this post I share two dipping sauce recipes and three ways to serve the lamb!
Cooking a giant chunk of meat, such as a four-pound lumb leg, might seem daunting. Once you try it, though, you’ll find it is the easiest thing to do. This lamb leg dish is a great choice, whether you’re cooking for two for a simple meal or preparing a main dish for a dinner party of six.
I chose to use a pressure cooker for this dish instead of the usual braising or baking method, to show you another option. It requires minimal active cooking time and cooks the lamb leg until very tender in just 40 minutes.
If this is your first time visiting my blog, you might find it strange that I’m talking about lamb in the context of Chinese cooking. In fact, lamb is a very popular meat in many provinces of China and is considered a staple in Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia, where the majority of inhabitants are Muslim.
I’ve shared quite a few Chinese lamb dishes on the blog so far, including lamb fried noodles (Ding Ding Chao Mian), baked lamb dumplings, lamb pilaf, and lamb skewers.
The flavoring in this recipe is different than in my previous lamb recipes. It uses the Northern style soy-sauce-based seasoning to create a savory lamb dish that goes great with rice and noodles.
The traditional way of cooking this dish is boiling the lamb first, and then braising it until tender. When the weather starts to get warm, I find keeping my stove on for many hours on a sunny Sunday afternoon less than appealing. So I resorted to my new favorite kitchen tool – the Instant Pot. I’ve talked about my experience with the Instant Pot in a previous post. To describe it in one sentence, Instant Pot is an electric cooking appliance that combines a slow cooker, pressure cooker, rice cooker, yogurt maker, steamer, and saute pan.
There is only one problem when using a pressure cooker to braise large chunk of meat – the meat usually ends up plain, due to the very short cooking time. So here, we need to marinate the meat before cooking. You can use the same method when braising any other type of meat in pressure cooker.
The rest of it is very easy. Brown the lamb, put the lamb leg and the marinade in the pressure cooker, and cook at high pressure for 40 minutes. Then you’ll get melt-in-your-mouth tender and juicy lamb meat, with no need to monitor the pot.
There are many ways to use pressure-cooked lamb meat.
- The easiest way – use a fork to shred the meat and serve it with the broth. It goes great on a bowl of steamed rice, topped on noodles soup, or made into quick tacos.
- The steak way – slice the lamb and grill it in a hot pan. Then you get a nicely browned lamb steak that makes a great main dish by itself.
- The crispy way – slice the lamb, coat it with breadcrumbs, and grill it in a pan. You’ll be surprised at how easy to create a “deep-fried” lamb steak without frying at all!
You see, even if you are just cooking for two, you can save the leftovers and use the lamb in many different ways later. So, no worries about serving the same dish all over again.
That’s it for today!
If you give this recipe a try, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it (once you’ve tried it), and take a picture and tag it #omnivorescookbook on Instagram! I’d love to see what you come up with. Cheers, friends!
Pressure Cooker Lamb Leg
- 3 to 4 pound (1.5 kilogram) whole lamb leg
- 1/4 cup light soy sauce
- 1/4 cup Shaoxing wine
- 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns
- 1 thumb ginger , sliced
- 1/4 ground nutmeg
(Option 1) Chinese traditional dipping sauce
- 1/4 cup Chinese black vinegar
- 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 3 tablespoons Garlic , minced
- 1 teaspoon chili oil or fresh diced red chili peppers (Optional)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
(Option 2) Honey cilantro lime sauce
- 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 cup loosely packed cilantro
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 lime , juiced
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
(Optional) Crispy lamb leg
- 150 grams panko bread crumbs
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon potato starch
- Chopped cilantro for garnish (Optional)
- Combine all the ingredients for the marinade in a bowl. Mix well.
- Transfer lamb leg to a 1-gallon ziplock bag. Pour marinade over the lamb leg. Squeeze out as much air as possible and seal the ziplock bag. Massage the bag a few times, so that the lamb is covered evenly with marinade. Marinate in the fridge overnight. Flip the bag once during marinating.
- Transfer the lamb leg to a large plate, saving the marinade liquid. Carefully remove the Sichuan peppercorns from the lamb and discard them. Drain marinade through a fine mesh strainer. Transfer the marinade liquid into pressure cooker. Discard all solid ingredients.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet until hot. Carefully place lamb into the skillet. Let cook until the bottom side turns golden brown. Flip and cook the other side, until nicely charred. Transfer lamb leg into the pressure cooker.
- Cook at high pressure for 40 minutes. If you’re using an Instant Pot, click manual, set timer to 40 minutes, and make sure the valve is pointed to “locked”. If you’re using a stovetop pressure cooker, lock the cover and cook over medium high heat until the target pressure is reached. Turn to medium low heat and continue cooking for 40 minutes. You can either use the natural release or quick release once the lamb is cooked.
- If you’re not going to serve the lamb immediately, transfer it to a large plate and let it cool completely. Transfer the lamb with all the liquid into an air-tight container. When the sauce cools down, there will be a thick layer of fat floating on top. It will help preserve the meat. You can always skim and discard the fat later. Store in the fridge for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- While cooking the lamb, prepare the sauce.
- To serve the lamb the traditional way, mix all the ingredients for the Chinese traditional dipping sauce in a small bowl. Stir to mix well.
- If you like a creamy sauce, combine Greek yogurt, cilantro, garlic, lime juice, and honey in a tall bowl (or a blender). Use a hand blender to mix well everything while slowly adding olive oil. Mix until the oil is emulsified and the sauce even in color.
- There are three ways to serve the lamb.
- Option 1 - The quickest way is to serve the lamb directly after pressure cooking. The lamb will be very tender and can be pulled apart easily.
- Option 2 - You can slice the lamb. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a nonstick skillet until hot. Grill the lamb until the surface turns golden brown. This method is a great choice if you are reheating the lamb.
- Option 3 - If you want to create crispy lamb steak without deep-frying, use this method. Spread breadcrumbs on a large plate. Mix egg with potato starch in a separate plate. Slice lamb meat. Heat a thin layer of oil in a nonstick skillet until hot. Dip both sides of lamb in the egg mixture, and then cover with bread crumbs. Cook in the skillet until both sides turns golden brown.
- Serve warm as main, or top on steamed rice, with whichever sauce you prefer.
Questions and Reviews
I gotta try this. I haven’t had lamb in a while. Thanks for sharing.
The dipping sauces sound terrific!
I think pressure cookers are very underrated! As you say, meat is incredibly tender when it’s cooked in one.
Another beautiful authentically Chinese recipe, with beyond gorgeous pictures to go with it. I love that you’ve got both a traditional Chinese dipping sauce and a more western-sounding dressing too. You’re going all fusion on us, Maggie!
Somehow people think pressure cookers are dangerous. But these electric ones are getting a bit more popular now, since they have multiple safety locks to make it less likely to cause a problem in the kitchen.
Thanks for your kind words Helen 🙂 I do love both the sauces here!
This is SO fantastic. My husband got me a pressure cooker over a year ago, and I hate to say it… I’ve only used it once. From time-to-time he’ll even put on a sad face and comment on how I never use it. And it just so happens that he’s a big fan of lamb! This is perfect! Thanks Maggie! My husband thanks you too, I’m sure 🙂
I believe all you need is to find a few pressure cooker recipes and start using it 😉 Lately I’ve been using it to make soup and vegetables. Pressure cooker makes amazing dishes because it releases a lot of flavors from the vegetables, so the soup have a richer flavor. Of course, it cooks meat in very short time so it’s always a plus! Happy Friday Kathleen 🙂
I made this last night and it was very good. And there are still leftovers, which is excellent! I didn’t make the two sauces but I might next time we eat it. The gravy from the pressure cooker was a good accompaniment by itself.
I’m so glad to hear you like this dish Erica! Yes the gravy from the pressure cooker is quite nice. Next time you could also try out the traditional sauce. It’s very simple but I like it! The leftover will taste better if you submerge the meat in the gravy 🙂
Great recipe – I was looking for instant pot leg of lamb and was thrilled to find a (mostly…) authentic Chinese recipe. Took the netting off with the idea of getting better coverage of the marinade and searing more of it. Not sure if it would have been more tender otherwise. But flavor is good and meat is tender although not all parts were falling apart. I wouldn’t have thought to try it with what we usually use for dumpling sauce, but sounds delicious. Have a big container of meat to enjoy with rice, noodles etc now! Look forward to trying some of your other recipes as well!
Hi Jenny, I’m so glad to hear you tried my recipe and enjoyed the dish!
Re meat texture, maybe next time you can try to cook it 5 minutes longer under pressure. Or simmer it longer once releasing the pressure.
Serving the lamb with noodles is a great idea! You can skim oil from the leftover cooking broth and add it into the noodle soup 🙂
Happy cooking and hope your next cooking project turns out great as well!
I’m trying to give this a try. Got a few pressure cookers and most say minimum, cooking liquid = 1 cup. I’ve read through the recipe a couple times but don’t see a total of one cup of liquid. Did this ole senior miss it? What am I doing wrong? Perhaps a generous amount of dry white wine or sake to make up the difference?
All the best,
I have the same question as Stuart regarding the cooking liquid. If the marinade doesn’t seem to have enough liquid to cook under pressure, I will likely add equal splashes of shaoxing wine and light soy sauce.
Hi Amy, I think I totally ignored the requirement by the pressure cooker! Yes I believe adding some Shaoxing wine and light soy sauce will work. Or I would add some chicken stock. The liquid won’t season the meat so much during the cooking, that why I marinaded the meat first.
Hi Rob, sorry I totally missed your early question. Somehow I remember that the lamb would release some liquid after marinating, but now I’m not sure whether there’s enough for 1 cup. You can totally add some Shaoxing wine or chicken stock to make it 1 cup, so it meets the requirement of the Instant Pot.
Is there anything that u can substitute in place of the wine? Also how large of a roast for this recipe, for cooking time purposes?
Hi Barbie, dry sherry or some Japanese sake is the best substitution of Shaoxing wine. If you don’t like to use alcohol, you can also skip it. I used a smaller-ish boneless leg and cooked it for 40 minutes in the pressure cooker. If your cut is larger, you can try 45 to 50 minutes.
Is it 1/4 of a whole nutmeg or 1/4 tsp? Thank you
Hi Linda, it is 1/4 teaspoon.
My wife, guests, and I really enjoyed this lamb with your Sizchuan green beans which are five stars. I used the black vinegar dipping sauce which was a great complement to the rich lamb. I didn’t give it a fifth star, becauseI found the delicious marinade gets lost in the steaming process of the pressure cooker…. a downside to using a pressure cooker. I will try this recipe again with dipping sauce, but will roast the lamb after searing! Thanks, Steven
Good morning, first time making lamb. I tried it once and don’t like the taste, but will try yours it seems tasty with the married flavors you suggested, thank you!
Looking forward to hearing your feedback on this! Happy cooking 🙂