One of the best buys at Costco are the loin lamb chops. You get 10 of them for about $17.00. The last time I looked at loin lamb chops at Fairway, they were over $17.00 a lb. I’ve been wanting to write about them and kept searching for something amazing to do with them. My usual preparation was just to douse them with lots of Lea and Perrin’s Worcestershire sauce, broil them quickly 6 minutes on one side, 4 on the other. They’re always delicious but I was looking for something “different” to share with you.
Then I found a recipe for Lamb Chops with Char Siu sauce, a Hong Kong favorite that I’ve used with brisket of beef to great effect. But I have to admit, it was a little more work and no more rewarding than the great taste achieved with the Worcestershire sauce. (There’s a new ‘Thick” version I can’t wait to try.)
But what I did for sides are two recipes that I really do want to turn you onto. Both are simple and rewarding. The first is from Bon Appetit, the second from Gourmet. And as Andrew says, it not always about what’s on the center of the plate that’s important. So I’ll share the Char Sui recipe but keep the Worcestershire idea and feel free to use it—I think it’s a very good counterpoint to both of these great sides.
I was in Chinatown for a meeting and cannot go there without shopping. One day soon, I’ll share with you the extraordinary amount of money you can save there on everything from soy sauce to, well, ginger. A huge knob of the stuff never costs more than $1.20. I just cringe when I see ginger in my supermarket for 3.99 a lb. It keeps a couple of weeks in the fridge. On this shopping excursion, I was drawn to the baby bok choy. It looked positively pretty with its yellow flowers just poking out of the top. So, for the first time ever, I cooked it. Andrew thought he wouldn’t like it and was amazed at how much he did. It was stir-fried in a large frying pan. Our Wok’s at the beach but you can easily achieve a great result without one.
The parmesan potatoes may appear to be a slightly odd choice with the Asian flavors of the Bok Choy. But they are crispy, crunchy and follow along in the Asian tradition of combining tastes that are sweet and sour and salty. They are very simple to do—a lot easier than French fries but they give you that kind of effect. Here are the recipes:
For Char Siu Glazed Lamb Chops
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce*
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (Chinese rice wine) or dry Sherry
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder**
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 loin lamb chops (about 1 pound), well trimmed
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon water
*Available in the Asian foods section of many supermarkets and at Asian markets.
**A spice blend that usually contains ground fennel seeds, Szechuan peppercorns, cinnamon, star anise, and cloves; available in the spice section of most supermarkets.
1. Whisk first 6 ingredients in small bowl. Transfer to large resealable plastic bag. Add lamb; seal bag and turn to coat. Marinate in refrigerator at least 4 hours or overnight.
2. Turn broiler on to high. Drain lamb, leaving some marinade clinging. Broil lamb until slightly charred and cooked to desired doneness, about 6 minutes on one side, 4 on the other for medium-rare. Transfer to platter.
3. Stir honey and 1 tablespoon water in small skillet over medium heat until warm. Brush over lamb chops.
For Stir-Fried Bok Choy with Ginger:
1 (2-inch) piece ginger, peeled
3/4 lb Shanghai bok choy or other baby bok choy (5 to 8 heads)
1/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon Chinese rice wine (preferably Shaoxing) or medium-dry Sherry
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
1. Cut half of ginger into very fine matchsticks (less than 1/8 inch thick; about 1 tablespoon) and reserve. Grate remaining ginger and squeeze pulp with your fingers to yield 1 teaspoon liquid, then discard pulp.
2. Remove any bruised or withered outer leaves from bok choy. Trim 1/8 inch from bottom of each bok choy, then cut each head into quarters. Wash bok choy in several changes of cold water and dry in a colander or salad spinner until dry to the touch.
3. Whisk together ginger juice, chicken broth, rice wine, soy sauce, cornstarch, salt, and sugar in a small bowl until cornstarch is dissolved.
4. Heat wok or skillet over high heat until a bead of water vaporizes within 1 to 2 seconds of contact. Pour oil into wok or skillet, then swirl oil, tilting to coat sides. Add ginger matchsticks and stir-fry 5 seconds. Add bok choy and stir-fry until leaves are bright green and just limp, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir broth mixture, then pour into wok and stir-fry until vegetables are crisp-tender and sauce is slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and drizzle with sesame oil, then stir to coat.
Recipe for Pan Fried Parmesan Potatoes:
8 medium red or fingerling potatoes (about 2 inches long; 1 3/4 pounds)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1. Generously cover potatoes with cold water in a 3-to 4-quart pot and add 1 tablespoon salt. Boil until almost tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain potatoes.
2. Transfer to a baking sheet and lightly crush to about 3/4 inch thick with a potato masher, keeping potatoes intact as much as possible.
3. Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Transfer potatoes with a spatula to skillet, then lower heat to medium-low and cook, turning once, until golden brown, about 20 minutes total. Serve sprinkled with cheese. Season generously with pepper.
This menu serves 2 and can easily be doubled.