The Uyghur are one of China’s largest ethnic minorities. In Kunming, they are known for their Chinese-Muslim cuisine – especially their beef or lamb skewers, cooked on the streets over glowing charcoal. Sadly, street food in Kunming is fast disappearing, as the local government has been cracking down on street vendors. However, I heard of a cook named Mr Shwee, whose family has been serving beef skewers for three generations. I had a hard time finding him: he hides his charcoal grill down a narrow alley, out of police view. His recipe is as secret as his location! I tried my best to replicate his marinade, and I think I’m almost there.






Skill level

Average: 3.7 (33 votes)


  • 1 kg beef sirloin
  • 125 ml vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 lemons, cut into wedges


  • 3 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 60 ml light soy sauce
  • 60 ml vegetable oil

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Marinating time 30 minutes

Soaking time 20 minutes

Cut the beef into 2.5 cm (1 inch) chunks, leaving on some of the fat. Place in a large mixing bowl, add the marinade ingredients and mix until the beef is well coated. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or overnight for a tastier result.

Soak 12 bamboo skewers in cold water for 20 minutes.

Heat a barbecue chargrill or chargrill pan to medium–high heat. Thread the beef onto the skewers. Chargrill for 3 minutes on each side, basting the beef with the vegetable oil to get some flame happening and impart a smoky flavour, and sprinkling with the chilli flakes and cumin. Transfer to a platter and serve with lemon wedges.