Asian Style Rack of Lamb with Sticky Risotto

An Asian rack of lamb might seem unusual to some, but China’s Hunan province is famous for its lamb dishes. The most well-known is probably a slightly spicy stir fry with loads of green onions. This take is more sophisticated and influenced somewhat by a rack of lamb I enjoyed at The Slanted Door, a Vietnamese-American restaurant in San Francisco. I love sticky rice, but it is sometimes hard to get, so I made this rice dish with arborio – the variety used for risotto – which ends up having a similar texture. The sauce is a typical spicy vinaigrette flavoured with Thai chili and plenty of mint to enhance the lamb. If you prefer less heat, you can remove the seeds from the chili pepper before you chop it.

Ready time: 1½ hours, including marinating time
Servings: 4

Lamb:

2 lamb racks, Frenched (8 chops each)

1/3 cup chopped shallots

1 tbsp grated lime rind

1 tbsp grated ginger

1 tsp chopped garlic

2 tbsp fish sauce

1 tsp ground star anise

3 tbsp vegetable oil

Sauce:

3 tbsp sugar

1/4 cup fish sauce

1 tsp chopped Thai chili

1/2 tsp chopped garlic

2 tbsp lime juice

2 tbsp chopped mint leaves

Sticky Risotto:

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1/4 cup chopped onions

1 tsp grated ginger

1 cup risotto rice

3 cups hot chicken stock

1/2 cup coconut milk

1/3 cup sliced green onions

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 tbsp vegetable oil

Garnish:

Mint leaves

Slivered green onions

Cut the lamb racks into 2-chop portions. Combine shallots, lime rind, ginger, garlic, fish sauce, star anise and oil. Pour over lamb and marinate at room temperature for 1 hour.

To make the sauce, dissolve sugar in 2 tbsp water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Let cool. Stir in fish sauce, chili, garlic, lime juice and chopped mint. Reserve.

To make the rice, heat oil in pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté for 2 minutes or until softened. Add ginger and then rice and turn in the oil until coated. Add 1 cup stock and bring to a boil, then simmer, stirring, until reduced (about 3 to 4 minutes). Add a second cup and continue cooking and stirring until rice is barely cooked (about 5 more minutes). Add remaining stock and cook, stirring, for 5 more minutes. Rice should be al dente. Add more stock if needed. Stir in coconut milk and green onions and cook until rice is quite sticky (about 2 minutes). Season well.

Preheat oven to 450 F. Scrape marinade off chops. Heat vegetable oil over high heat in a large skillet. Brown chops on each side (about 1 to 2 minutes a side). Arrange in a roasting pan.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until centre is slightly pink. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Place rice on a dish and top with 2 lamb portions per person. Drizzle over a little chili sauce. Scatter with mint leaves and thinly sliced green onions.