An Asian approach to grilling: Part 2
Memorial Day is already a few days behind us, so many people are well on their way to forgetting they ever cooked meals indoors. The pleasures of grilling are so enticing: the casual ease of tossing your food onto the hot grid over an open fire; the sound of sizzling juices; the fresh air mingling with the intoxicating aromas; and the incomparable flavors, especially when you've taken care to season your food imaginatively.
Last week, I encouraged you to journey beyond America's borders when grilling, and took you on a trip to Asia featuring skewers of shrimp cooked with lemongrass and ginger. This week, we'll explore Far Eastern flavors even more with a classic red meat recipe from my Asian fusion restaurant, Chinois: marinated lamb chops served with a quick condiment of aromatic fresh herbs.
The term "Asian fusion" refers to combining Asian seasonings or cooking techniques with those of the West, a perfect description of what goes on in my recipe here. It starts with two racks of lamb, which usually consist of seven or eight uncut rib chops each. Cooking them whole, as they would be in the classic French kitchen, rather than cutting them into individual chops before cooking, helps the meat stay juicier and more flavorful and tender. Brief marinating with Asian seasonings for just an hour before cooking adds even more flavor to the end results.
After the lamb racks finish grilling (I recommend medium-rare for the juiciest results, a doneness level you can easily check with the help of an instant-read thermometer), it's important to cover them with foil let them rest for about 10 minutes before you carve them between the bones into individual chops for serving. This resting time allows the hot juices that are bubbling away inside the meat to settle down a bit, so less of them flow out onto the carving board and more of them stay in every bite you enjoy.
While the cooked meat rests, you have the perfect amount of time to prepare the salsa that goes with it. You read that right: I wrote "salsa" to refer to the condiment for this fusion-style dish. That's because, although it features fresh herbs and spices commonly found in Asian kitchens, they are put together and presented in a way similar to Mexican salsas. In fact, this flavorful mixture also closely resembles another Latin American condiment served with grilled foods: the popular Argentine mixture of parsley, oregano, garlic, red pepper flakes, and oil known as chimichurri.
Whatever you call it, I'm sure you'll find the results of this recipe at once comfortingly familiar and excitingly new: just what you want to kick off a happy summer filled with delicious grilled meals.
CHINOIS MARINATED GRILLED LAMB CHOPS WITH CILANTRO-MINT SALSA
2 racks lamb, each about 2 pounds, trimmed