|Indian-spiced lamb chops.|
From April 2006 to January 2007 I was the executive chef and co-owner of Red Ginger Pan-Asian Kitchen on the coast just north of Half Moon Bay, California. We had a short, exciting run but sadly catastrophic events (which I will not enumerate here) conspired against us, forcing us to close sooner than any of us on Team Ginger would have liked.
Despite our premature closure, I think we found a measure of success in our little coastal community. We had many fans, and I say with some pride that the food we put out justified their appreciation. We had problems with creating a consistent product, we had issues finding talented staff both in front and in back of the house, we grappled with complications of product delivery and quality control. We had plumbing issues, service issues, financial worries. But we worked our asses off to create the best restaurant we could, the best food we could, the most pleasant and fun and inviting environment we could. We worked hard and we were proud of it.
I still get requests for recipes of the many dishes we served at Red Ginger, and only rarely do I trot them out, somewhat sheepishly. Much of the food I cooked there feels very personal to me. These are dishes that excited me at the time, that I challenged myself and my staff with, and while none of them feels particularly revelatory to me now, each recipe is so loaded with individual memories for me, good and bad, that to share them feels akin to confession. Well, I’m happy to unload.
Lillian is a good friend and former employee at Red Ginger. Since I started this blog she’s been after me to write up the recipe for what I used to call grilled lamb kashmir over coriander mashed potatoes with minty cucumber raita & pomegranate syrup. So too my father has mentioned a number of times over the past couple of years that he needs the definitive recipe for agedashi tofu. Digeann just recently asked for the cashew sauce we served with the vegetarian Buddha roll. Perhaps it was Kathy who remarked in conversation about the overly-generous tuna tartar we used to serve? I’ve also been thinking a lot recently of the Singapore Shrimp and crispy banana-marshmallow wontons.
Today’s recipe is for Lillian. I don’t know what Kashmir has to do with this lamb…nothing, to tell the truth. It just sounded kinda cool. A lot of the menu at Red Ginger was less about authenticity and more about capturing a feel or mood.
Okay, this is a recipe of several distinct parts:
• the spice rub, an Indian-spiced masala
• the pomegranate syrup
• the raita
• the lamb chops
• the baby tomatoes
• the mashed potatoes, which I won’t go into super-detail here
We’re going to move fast and quick…
MAKE THE MASALA first.
Combine in a bowl the following:
¼ cup curry powder
¼ cup kosher salt
¼ cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon ground cardamom
1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon 5-spice powder
1 teaspooon ground white pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Mix well. This makes about a cup. Keep in an airtight container and it’ll last several months.
Next make the POMEGRANATE SYRUP.
Combine in a small pot 1 cup of pomegranate juice, 1/3 cup of sugar, a pinch each of salt and pepper. Stir well. Bring up a to boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to make sure the sugar has melted. Reduce by about half over medium heat, about 20 minutes. It should be the consistency of maple syrup.
Next make the MINTY CUCUMBER RAITA.
Combine in a bowl the following:
1 cup plain whole milk yogurt, like a Greek yogurt
1 Persian cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely minced
1 garlic clove, smashed and finely minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon minced mint leaf
1 teaspoon minced dill
1 teaspoon minced cilantro
pinch ground cumin
pinch ground coriander
pinch kosher salt
cracked pepper to taste
Mix well and refrigerate until service.
Now DEAL WITH THE LAMB.
You’ll want lamb rib chops. Ask your meat guy to “French” them, which means to trim the meat neatly off the bone, creating a simple handle. You can of course buy lamb racks and break down the racks into individual chops; it’s pretty easy to do it yourself. You’ll need a sharp knife.
I recommend three to four chops per person. Sprinkle chops generously with the masala and let sit refrigerated one to three hours.
|Season lamb generously with masala.|
You can make a batch of mashed potatoes in the meantime. To make the coriander mashed potatoes I take basic creamy mashed potatoes and add a dash of ground coriander and a fistful of chopped fresh cilantro leaves. Mix it up nicely.
You can also prep the ROASTED BABY TOMATOES.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. In an oven-proof small pan heat a teaspoon of olive oil until smoking. Add baby tomatoes, about 6 per person. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stick the whole pan in the oven and cook for about ten minutes, or until the tomatoes are swollen and look just about to burst. Set the pan aside on the stove-top until you need the tomatoes.
Turn off the oven.
GRILL YOUR LAMB!
Heat the grill or a grill pan. Lightly coat the lamb chops with olive oil. Grill the lamb chops over a very high heat for about six minutes a side. A little char is nice.
|Yummy lamb chops.|
Now, assemble the plate! Put a mound of mashed potatoes in the center of the plate. Arrange grilled lamb chop artfully on the plate. Add dollops of the raita, drizzle some pomegranate syrup, and throw on a few roasted tomatoes.
Enjoy with a lovely zinfandel or pinot noir.
They say the flame that burns brightest burns but briefly.