Vietnamese lamb shanks with sweet potatoes

Vietnamese lamb shanks with sweet potatoes

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(45 ratings)

Prep: 20 mins Cook: 3 hrs


Serves 4
Meltingly tender and full of classic Asian flavours, these lamb shanks are perfect for freezing

Nutrition and extra info

  • Freezable
  • Easily halved

Nutrition: per serving

  • kcal-
  • fat-
  • saturates-
  • carbs-
  • sugars-
  • fibre-
  • protein-
  • salt-
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  • 2 tbsp groundnut oil
  • 4 lamb shank, about 350g each
  • 2 onion, halved and cut into half moons



    Onions are endlessly versatile and an essential ingredient in countless recipes. Native to Asia…

  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh root ginger
  • 3 garlic clove, finely sliced
  • 2 red chilli, both deseeded, one chopped and one thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp soft brown sugar, plus 1 tsp
  • 3 star anise
    Star anise

    Star anise

    star an-eese

    Star anise is one of the central spices in Chinese cooking. It has a strong anise flavour, with…

  • 2 lemongrass stalks, tough outer leaves removed, then bruised
  • 1.2l lamb stock
  • 1½ tbsp tomato purée
  • 4 sweet potato, peeled and cut into big chunks
    Sweet potatoes

    Sweet potato

    sweet po-tate-toe

    Sweet potatoes have a creamy texture and a sweet-spicy flavour that makes them ideal for savoury…

  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
    Fish sauce

    Fish sauce

    A seasoning often used in Vietnamese and Thai cooking. In Vietnam it is usually made from shrimp…

  • juice 2 limes



    The same shape, but smaller than…

  • big handful mint leaves, torn



    There are several types of mint, each with its own subtle difference in flavour and appearance.…

  • handful basil leaves


  1. Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a heavy-bottomed casserole, season the shanks, then brown them 2 at a time on all sides, adding the remaining oil for the second batch. Remove the lamb and add the onions. Fry them quite briskly, about 30 secs, add the ginger, garlic and chopped chilli, then turn the heat down and cook for 1 min. Add 1 tbsp sugar, stir, then add the star anise, lemongrass, stock, purée and seasoning. Bring to the boil.

  2. Cover and cook in the oven for 1½ hrs, then add the sweet potatoes and cook for 1 hr more. The lamb should be completely tender and almost falling off the bones. Stir in the fish sauce, lime juice and 1 tsp sugar to just lift the flavour, then scatter with the mint, basil and the sliced chilli to serve.

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Comments (55)

jules747tiggs's picture

Could you make this by stewing on the top of the cooker? I have a small oven and my casserole dish is too large for it!

kingtwig's picture

This looks and sounds delicious! I'm thinking of doing it in my new slow cooker, but am a bit new to slow cooking. Can anyone give me an idea of how long to cook it for using the slow cooker, and also, would I need to add the stated 1.2L of stock....because my slow cooker seems to make things quite liquidy. Thanks for any help- dying to try this out! :o)

mbennett's picture

Got this in the oven for the second time - friends coming over to eat this evening. If it turns out half as delicious as last time I will be delighted, not quite sure where my root ginger has gone? Must have fallen out of the supermarket trolley! Hey-ho. Going to use coriander this time, it just seems more apprpriate.

christinebrown's picture

My sister in law cooked this for us yesterday - absolutly delicious, I have printed the recipe out and can't wait to cook it myself!

jweg1210's picture

This did make a nice change from the usual lamb shanks recipe... smells lovely... kids happy to eat it... but it wasn't anywhere near as delicious as my usual one which uses white wine, garlic and carrots.
As other people have said, I would cook for longer than stated, and only add the sweet potato at the point where it will cook rather than disintegrate.

louiseabrantes's picture

WOW!!! :-)

1195seamus's picture

Wow, this is truly gorgeous - if I could give it 6 stars I would.

With the price of lamb as it is at the moment I felt I needed to treat my 2 small shanks with the respect one would normally pay to Dover sole, truffles or caviar - so rather than throwing them into the oven with some root veg and wine like I usually do, I searched for a really special recipe and found it here. The flavours are sublime, salty, sweet, tangy and fresh. My husband loved it and I can't wait to cook it on a special occasion for my friends and family. I tend to adapt any recipe according to taste or what I have in the kitchen at the time but the only changes I made were to cook at 150C for 5 hours in total [ Iprefer the meat to be meltingly tender ] I also substituted the sweet potato with butternut squash and added parnips and carrots after 2 hours and cooked for a further 3 hours so that the veg soaks up more of the lovely flavours.

mrskiedis's picture

Absolutely delicious. Have made this in our slow cooker as well, but add the sweet potatoes about an hour before the end or they turn to mush.

cheffling's picture

Beautiful dish, simple and very flavorful. I added an extra 30min to the cooking time at the original temperature. I also added a few cloves and a half cinnamon stick to pack in a little more flavor, also the lovely numbing of the cloves. Cannot wait to cook this again, what a great take on traditional shanks!

tellybwmbas's picture

karolek...chicken or vegetable stock are good substitutes.

This was gorgeous, a really nice variation for lamb shanks, and well worth the little effort to make it. The smells from the kitchen were wonderful!

karolka_k92's picture

Where do I get a lamb stock? Do I have to make it or buy it? Can I use something else? I want to try it because it sounds great but I'm not a very experienced cook so I hesitate to waste so much of lovely lamb.

adstabaker's picture

Some really nice flavours. I cooked on 150 degrees for 90mins then another 60 as the recipe said, but I think on this low heat it needs to be a fair bit longer, probably another 90mins as the meat did not fall off the bone easily and the fat did not melt away. This would be a gorgeous meal if cooked for longer

whitchypuss's picture

this is lovely and really easy, I made it and then let it cool so i could skim of the fat, then reheated it. it was surprisingly light and made a great change to my usual braised lamb shanks.

bungo38's picture

jayprime - the fish sauce adds a certain subtle complexity to southeast asian cookery but doesn't doesn't taste 'fishy' in the finished dish. sort of like blachan in malaysian food. however, when I make aubergine and broccoli laksa for my vegetarian son I substitute soy sauce.

haven't tried this one yet but will - sounds delish.

jayprime's picture

What is the purpose of the fish sauce?
Since many people are allergic to fish, what could be used instead?


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