Ever since this recipe was featured in the New York Times , my family has enjoyed the delicious , complex flavor of this dish . This recipe is great both on the grill and under the broiler due to the sugart marinade that helps to brown the meat easily . Once grilled drizzle the tamarind sauce on to the ribs giving a really beautiful appearance and complex flavor , typical of Vietnamese food .
Adapted from The New York Times
Photograph by Rahul Mahtani
4 stalks lemon grass , trimmed and minced
4 shallots , peeled
2 Thai chilies , or 1 small jalapeno , stemmed and seeded or about 1 tsp crushed red chili flakes or to taste
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbs neutral oil , like corn or canola
2 tbs fish sauce
2 small racks of lamb , about 1 1/4 lbs each , cut into riblets
salt and pepper
Combine lemon grass with shallots , chilies , sugar and oil in a mortar and pestle or a food processor , or mince finely with a knife . Add fish sauce , sprinkle lamb with salt and pepper and marinate it in this mixture for 2 to 3 hours , wrapped and refridgerated .
Start grill . Rake coals so fire is quite hot on one side and cooler on the other ,and grill rack is about 4 inches from the heat . Grill lamb , starting on hot part of grill , until crusty , turning as necessary . move it to cooler part if it threatens to char. Cook until an instant read thermometer inserted into center of meat measures 125 to 130 degrees for rare ; this will take 10 to 15 minutes , serve hot , with tamarind sauce .
1/2 lb dried tamarind pods or 1 lb tamarind paste
1/2 cup sugar or to taste
2 tbs fish sauce or to taste
Simmer pods ( with their husks ) or paste in hot water to cover , stirring and mashing until soft , about 10 minutes for pods , 5 for paste . If you use pods , remove husks . Press pulp and seeds in a fine sieve .
While warm , stir in sugar and fish sauce to taste . Serve hot , with lamb ( sauce can be refridgerated for about a day and reheated just before serving ; add a little water or lime juice if necessary to thin it out )