Serves 4

1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds

2 teaspoons Sichuan or regular peppercorns

1 pound boneless lamb

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1 teaspoon ground cumin

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

4 to 8 dried red chilies (or substitute ½ teaspoon or more crushed red pepper)

1 large white onion

1 bunch (about 8) scallions, trimmed

2 tablespoons peanut oil

3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped

1½ tablespoons soy sauce

1½ tablespoons Chinese cooking sherry (Shaoxing rice wine) or dry sherry

2 cups fresh cilantro, leaves and stems

Rice, for serving

1. In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast cumin seeds and peppercorns until fragrant, one to two minutes. Transfer to a mortar and pestle, and crush lightly.

2. Slice meat across the grain into ½-inch-thick strips. Toss meat with crushed spices, ground cumin, salt and dried chilies.

3. Peel onion and halve it through the root end. Trim the ends and cut each half lengthwise into ½-inch-thick slices. Cut white and light green parts of scallions into 2-inch lengths. Thinly slice scallion greens; keep separate.

4. Heat a very large skillet or wok over high heat until screaming hot, about five minutes. Add oil. Toss in onion and the scallion bottoms. Cook, tossing occasionally, until vegetables are lightly charred but still crisp, about two minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

5. Add lamb and chilies to skillet. Cook, tossing quickly, until meat begins to brown. Add garlic, soy sauce and sherry. Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated and lamb is cooked through, about two minutes. Toss in onions and scallions. Remove from heat and mix in cilantro and scallion greens. Serve hot, over rice.

— Melissa Clark, The New York Times