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3 Cup Taiwanese Lamb Ribs

Three cup lamb is one of the most classic dishes from Taiwan. I enjoyed this on my last day at Benny's in Koahsiung and it was so memorable I had to try to replicate it as soon as I got home.

The name “three cup”comes from the three key ingredients: sesame oil, Chinese rice wine, and soy sauce.

It is important to note that “Cups” refer to the equal ratio NOT a literal measurement!

A true and authentic Taiwanese three cup lamb calls for basil leaves, an essential part of the dish that lends an exotic aroma and minty nuance to the taste.

This meal was a definite hit in our household – the kids especially loved the sauce with steamed white rice. It’s a great way to use up all those ribs that seem to hang in the bottom of the freezer. Alternatively you can use diced lamb shoulder or even diced neck.


1kg lamb ribs or riblets

2 tablespoons dark sesame oil or toasted sesame oil

2- inch piece old ginger, peeled and cut into thin pieces

6 cloves garlic, peeled

1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons dark sweet soy sauce, kecap manis

1 1/2 tablespoons shaoxing wine/vinegar

1 bunch Thai basil leaves


I find I like to pre-roast the ribs in the oven, especially if they are a bit big, just for a bit to make sure they are properly cooked. If I was using diced lamb I’d just throw it into the wok after the ginger and garlic, but ribs are a bit harder to cook evenly, especially if you have a family to feed - plus the fat gets so nice and crunchy when its roasted!

I preheat the oven to 180 degrees and then pop the ribs on a foil lined tray and bake for 15 minutes. If you're using dinky little riblets or chopped up ribs then I am sure they would be fine to do in the wok.

Heat up a wok or saucepan on high heat and add the dark sesame oil. Put in the basil leaves and fry until crisp. Remove and place onto paper towel and set aside.

Next add the ginger, garlic, and stir-fry. Add in the ribs.

Add the soy sauce, dark sweet soy sauce, Shaoxing wine and continue to stir-fry.

Cover and lower the heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Add the basil leaves and give it a quick stir.

Serve with steamed white rice or alternatively a nice crunchy slaw is a good summer option.


1 wombok, finely shredded

2 carrots cut into matchsticks or grated

4 spring onions thinly sliced (white and green parts)

2/3 cup coarchly chopped coriander

50mm sesame oil

50ml soy sauce or tamari

2 tbsp rice vinegar

2 tbsp finely grated ginger

1 clove of garlic, crushed

To make the crunchy slaw, toss ingredients in a bowl to combine and season to taste. Serve with lamb ribs and/or steamed rice, scattered with spring onion and sesame seeds


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