Lamb. Meh. There’s nothing that calls out to me less than lamb. I don’t know why that is. I am completely unmoved by laaaaaamb. Every time someone serves lamb at their dinner party or whatever event back home in Malaysia, my sweet Mum can’t stop talking about it. “Oh, we went to Uncle So-and-so’s place for his birthday dinner, and they had a roast leg of lamb and oh! it was JUST BEAUTIFUL! So tasty! And tender!” Seriously Mum? Yawn – do you have any good gossip for me? Who was wearing what scandalous outfit at the party? (Yes, we indulge in some good old girlie gossip, Mum and I! We know we are being wicked while we do it, but that doesn’t stop us.)
So, imagine my surprise when, at a recent Sunday dinner at the home of our good friends the Tolberts, these gorgeous little lamb pops called my name! First of all, they were the daintiest little things. Nothing puts me off as much as a giant hunk of meat on a serving dish or dinner plate. But these little beauties were so cute – I would guess that they were about four ounces each, and came with a convenient little handle with which to pick them up! Second of all, they were cooked in sambal. No, not any old sambal, but Auria’s Malaysian Kitchen Hot Chilli Sambal. If you haven’t figured out the difference between the two yet, you really ought to. Life is much more fun once you know!
Let me tell you about our lovely hostess, Kasia Tolbert. She runs the Tolbert household, where we are lucky to be invited to Sunday dinner once or twice a month. She is serene and reserved, but don’t be fooled – she’s as spicy as can be. I believe she buys up the entire stock of my Hot Chilli Sambal at Sahadi’s every Saturday on her weekly grocery shopping excursion. Doesn’t it make sense that someone so spicy would come up with a million and one creative ways to use my sambal? Late last summer, at one of their Sunday dinners, she tossed some peeled shrimp in sambal, wrapped them in bacon and threw them on the grill. Yum. I’ll take thirty more please! Here’s a picture of that fleeting magical moment:
So here’s the recipe for her brilliantly simple, and yet incredibly delicious baby lamb rib chops, which we’ve taken to calling “Lamb Pops”. I hope you’ll make it – unlike most Asian recipes, there isn’t an encyclopedic list of ingredients and fourteen different steps before you even get to actually cooking it. The hardest part of making this dish, is making enough. You’ll be surprised at how quickly they disappear off your serving platter.
Kasia Tolbert’s Super Simple Lamb Pops (serves 4)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons AMK Hot Chilli Sambal (or more to taste)
Salt to taste
1. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat.
2. Add the sambal and salt, using more or less to match your preferred level of spiciness. Spread the sambal around to coat the bottom of the pan as evenly as possible.
3. Lay lamb pops in pan. Cook until done, turning once. (About 2 – 3 minutes per side for medium-rare). Garnish with roughly chopped parsley.
Didn’t I say it was simple? Shortest recipe I ever wrote up for the blog. Cook this, and then come back and tell me all about it – did you make them super spicy, less spicy, what you served them with, and whether or not you’ll make them again!
Thank you Kasia, for letting me post this recipe (and the bacon-wrapped spicy shrimp idea too!) I have a feeling we’ll be seeing you on this blog again sometime!
Update, May 14th 2014: A few days after this recipe was posted, we had a BBQ for Mother’s Day at our house. Kasia brought over two packs of baby lamb rib chops, we marinated them in two heaping teaspoons of sambal and one teaspoon of kosher salt, then grilled them instead of pan-searing them. Ah. Mazing. Since it’s coming on BBQ season, do these on the grill please – they are absolutely to-die-for this way.