Coconut Milk, Chinese Five-Spice and Turmeric Braised Lamb Shanks, Steamed Chinese Broccoli with Garlic Chili Oil Sauce, and Thai Sweet Black Rice with Black Garlic

Coconut Milk, Chinese Five-Spice and Turmeric Braised Lamb Shanks, Steamed Chinese Broccoli with Garlic Chili Oil Sauce, and Thai Sweet Black Rice with Black Garlic

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: moderate
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I love lamb especially the shanks when braised!  The smell of it cooking is so alluring I can’t wait for it to be done.  Add coconut milk, Chinese five-spice, and turmeric and it’s downright torture to have to wait but waited I did…and it was well worth it!

While there are minor variations throughout Asia the most common recipe for Chinese five-spice powder is a mix of cinnamon, cloves, star anise, fennel seeds, and Szechuan peppercorns, which is not a peppercorn at all but the dried berry of a tree in the rue family.  While it is “peppery” it’s two most prominent characteristics are its floral aroma and flavor, and the tingling or numbing effect it has on the tongue when eaten.

The braised lamb is served with simple preparations of steamed Chinese broccoli with garlic chili oil sauce and wild Thai sweet black rice with black garlic.  This is one flavorful dish!!!

Note:  Thai black rice is also known as “sticky rice” but it really depends on how it is prepared before cooking that will determine just how sticky the final rice will be (see Preparation below).



Braised lamb:

  • 2 lamb shanks
  • 2 tbsp Chinese five spice powder
    • …or if you want to make your own, the following toasted then ground to a fine powder in a mortar/pestle
      • 1/2 stick of cinnamon
      • 1 tsp whole cloves
      • 3 star anise pods
      • 1 tsp fennel seed
      • 1 tsp Szechuan peppercorns
    • 3 tbsp turmeric powder
    • 2 cups coconut milk
    • 1 cup water or veg stock (optional)
    • 4-6 shallots halved
    • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • Kosher salt to taste


Wild Thai sweet black rice:

  • 1 1/2 cups wild Thai sweet black rice
  • 3 cups water or stock
  • 3 cloves black garlic minced
  • Pinch of kosher salt


Steamed Chinese broccoli:

  • 1 lb Chinese broccoli
  • Garlic chili oil sauce as desired
  • Pinch of kosher salt (optional depending on the saltiness of your garlic chili oil sauce)



Note:  The total prep time is 30 minutes of which you will need 15 minutes to prep the lamb, 10 minutes for the broccoli, and 10 minutes for the black rice.

Braised lamb:

  • Pat dry the lamb shanks, season the lamb shanks with kosher salt and 1 tbsp of Chinese five spice powder; set aside.
  • Peel and half the shallots, remove and discard the root end; set aside halved shallots.
  • Peel the garlic, rough chop; set aside.
  • This next step if you intend to make the Chinese five spice powder from scratch:
    • Toast all the spices in a small frying pan over medium heat until aromatic.
    • Place in a mortar and grind using the pestle until you have a fine powder.
    • Using the above recipe you should have around 2 tbsp of powder; set aside.

Wild Thai sweet black rice:

  • Peel the black garlic cloves, mince; set aside.
  • Wash and rinse the rice once; set aside.
    • Wild Thai sweet black rice is far less processed than even brown rice so will have a considerable amount of starch on its exterior.
    • Unwashed Thai black rice has a tendency to stick after cooking hence the nickname “sticky rice”.
    • Washing the rice at least three times should remove most of the exterior starch and result in rice that does not clump.
    • The number of times I wash this particular rice depends on the final dish that it will be going with:
      • If in a soup, zero, the extra starch will actually enhance the body of the soup.
      • If with a braise or a dish with a heavy sauce, once.
      • If with a dish with a light sauce, twice.
      • If with stir-fry, three times for loose, un-sticky rice.
      • But this is just me…

Steamed Chinese broccoli:

  • Wash the broccoli, remove and discard any discolored leaves or stems, place into a bamboo steamer (if available) on top of a smaller pot filled with water to no more than 1/4 of its height…
    • …otherwise in the steamer element of a steamer pot filled with water to no more than 1/4 of its height; set aside.


Note:  The braised lamb will take two hours, the black rice one hour, and the steamed broccoli 10 minutes.

The rice should be started one hour after the lamb shank started cooking.  This way they will both be done at the same time.

Braised lamb:

  • Place a large soup, or straight-sided frying pan on a burner set at high heat, wait a minute for the pot/pan to heat up, add the oil, wait another minute, add the lamb shanks, brown on all sides, add the shallots, rest of the Chinese five spice powder, and turmeric, stir to incorporate, cook until aromatic (about 1 minutes).
  • Add the water or stock, and the coconut milk, stir, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 1 hour, turning over the lamb shank halfway through.
  • Remove the lamb shank; set aside but keep warm.
  • Increase the heat to medium-high, reduce the braising liquid by half, return the lamb shank to the reduced braising liquid; keep warm.

Wild Thai sweet black rice:

  • Place the pot with the rice and water on a burner set to medium-high, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cook, unstirred, for 35 minutes (by this time the rice has absorbed most of the water)
  • Remove the pot from the burner, set aside, covered for another 15 minutes.
  • Fluff the rice with a fork or chopsticks before serving.

Steamed Chinese broccoli:

  • Place the pot on a burner set to high, place the bamboo steamer on top of the pot, bring to a boil, steam for 10 minutes, carefully remove the bamboo steamer from the pot, serve immediately, garnish with the garlic chili oil.


  • Place a scoop or two of the black rice to one side but close to the center.
  • Lay the lamb shank with the exposed bone resting on the rice.
    • This will make a “V” on the plate.
  • Place the steamed Chinese bamboo in the middle of the “V”, garnish with garlic chili oil sauce.


Coconut Milk, Chinese Five Spice and Turmeric Braised Lamb Shanks, Steamed Chinese Broccoli with Garlic Chili Oil Sauce, and Thai Sweet Black Rice with Black Garlic


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