Cuisine doesn't get any hotter than this. Food experts across the nation point to Pan-Asian flavors as the freshest trend of the year, taking note of the unique ways in which their flavors tickle the palate with brilliant ingredient pairings.
Mai Pham, award-winning cookbook author and owner of the nationally acclaimed Lemon Grass Restaurant in Sacramento, Calif., makes bold flavor statements with these tapas-style "small plates," which are perfect for entertaining as well as both casual and elegant meals. An expert in Vietnamese and Thai cuisine, Chef Pham marries flavors from across Asia with American Lamb and USA-grown peanuts, making a unique culinary statement.
"American Lamb and USA-grown peanuts offer wonderful flavors and textures integral to Pan-Asian dishes," Chef Pham says. She favors the sweet, mild taste and versatility of fresh American Lamb for showcasing Pan-Asian flavors. American Lamb's availability at the grocery store and butcher allows the creative cook to dish up trendy tastes year-round. If you don't find the cut you're looking for, just ask -- and preorder when possible. USA-grown peanuts, tremendously versatile, flavor-packed and widely available as well, are both familiar and exotic, making them a critical component in these inspired dishes.
Spicy Lemongrass American Lamb with Peanuts in Lettuce Cups can be assembled by guests or served as bundles. Whimsical adult finger food, Grilled American Lamb on Sugarcane with Sweet Chili-Peanut Sauce can be made on sticks of lemongrass, bamboo sticks or canned sugarcane. Asian American Lamb Noodle Salad with Peanuts is a study of contrasts between crunchy peanuts, tender American Lamb and chewy noodles. And, the flavors in all of these dishes shine at room temperature, making them perfect for entertaining.
Thrill your guests with these unique Pan-Asian-inspired offerings--their intriguing blends of fresh flavors and familiar ingredients are sure to garner praise.
Grilled American Lamb on Sugarcane with Sweet Chili-Peanut Sauce
2/3 cup finely chopped jícama, patted dry
In medium bowl, blend first 12 ingredients. Mix in lamb and 3 tablespoons peanuts. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes. To prepare each skewer, form 3 tablespoons lamb mixture into 1-inch-thick roll. Place upper half of stick or skewer lengthwise in center of lamb roll and press skewer into lamb, forming meat around skewer (moisten hands for easy preparation). Spray prepared sticks or skewers each with nonstick cooking spray. Cook on barbecue grill or in large skillet, turning every 2 minutes (about 6 minutes total) until lamb is no longer pink inside. Serve with Thai sweet chili sauce sprinkled with 2 tablespoon peanuts. Makes 20 appetizer servings.
Asian American Lamb Noodle Salad with Peanuts
10 green onions (white and pale green parts only), chopped
In medium bowl, combine green onions, 2 tablespoons sesame oil, rice wine or apple juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, oyster sauce and salt. Remove 2 tablespoons and mix into lamb. Cover, refrigerate and marinate for 30 minutes. Reserve remaining sauce. Prepare noodles according to package directions. Remove from heat, rinse, drain and toss with remaining 1 tablespoon sesame oil, set aside. In large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon peanut oil over medium heat. Add one-half of shallots and stir 10 seconds. Add lamb and cook, stirring occasionally until no longer pink (about 4 to 6 minutes.) Transfer to large bowl, keep warm. Wipe out skillet and add remaining 2 tablespoons peanut oil. Add remaining shallots and stir 10 seconds. Mix in noodles and reserved sauce, cooking 3 to 4 minutes or until sauce is absorbed. Add spinach, snow peas and carrots. Stir-fry 3 to 4 minutes or until spinach is just wilted. Pour over lamb. Add peanuts, toss and serve. Makes 16 appetizer servings.
Spicy Lemongrass American Lamb with Peanuts in Lettuce Cups
3 tablespoons fish sauce, divided
In medium bowl, combine 1 tablespoon each fish sauce and lime juice, 1 teaspoon garlic and cornstarch. Add lamb and blend well, set aside. In small bowl, combine remaining 2 tablespoons each fish sauce and lime juice, 1 teaspoon garlic, brown sugar and chilies. Stir well, set aside. In medium pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add shallots and cook 10 seconds. Add lamb, stir and cook until no longer pink (about 5 minutes). Mix in sauce. Just before serving, toss lamb with mint, jícama, red onion, cilantro, lemongrass, ginger and 1/4 cup peanuts. Invite guests to put 2 or 3 tablespoons lamb mixture on each lettuce leaf. Top with remaining peanuts, roll and enjoy. Makes 16 appetizer servings.