Sticky Asian lamb

Sticky, sweet and spicy lamb cutlets, with a slightly astringent dipping sauce is a perfect starter for a dinner with friends – good friends, who don’t mind slurping and eating with their fingers to get every last morsel off the bone. It tastes best if the lamb can be marinated for several hours, or even overnight, to really let the flavours sing, but otherwise it’s simplicity itself to prepare and cook and returns significant benefit for a small investment of time and effort. This recipe took its inspiration from Australian chef Matt Moran.

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Serves 4 – 6

1 kg lamb cutlets
lime cheeks, to serve

2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons tamarind paste (available at supermarkets and Asian groceries)
2 teaspoons sambal olek
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 spring onions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons lime juice

Dipping sauce:
2-3 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablsepoon brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 small garlic clove, very finely chopped
1 long red chilli, de-seeded, and finely chopped

To make the marinade, place all the ingredients in a small food processor and process until a fairly smooth paste. You could also use a stick blender for this task. Coat the lamb cutlets with the marinade (use your hands) and then cover with cling wrap and put in the fridge for several hours or overnight.

To make the dipping sauce combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and mix well to ensure the sugar dissolves. Check for seasoning and add a little more lime juice or fish sauce if necessary to balance the flavours. It should taste neither too salty or sweet, and have just enough warmth from the chilli to cut through the richness of the meat.

Just before you are ready to serve, heat a grill pan or a BBQ to a medium heat and cook the chops for 2 – 3 minutes each side, turning once. Rest the lamb for a couple of minutes and then serve with the dipping sauce and lime cheeks (and napkins).

Wine choice: A cabernet sauvignon is a good match for the slightly sweet and spicy lamb.

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