Lamb of the Rising Son

A Southern chef's Asian adventures

Known more for its barbecue than fine dining, North Carolina may seem like an unlikely home to one of the best new Asian restaurants in America. But Charlotte-based chef Bryan Emperor has wooed diners with his menu at Kalu Asian Kitchen, where he expertly blends the cuisines of Japan, Korea and China. This boldly spiced lamb dish, for example, is inspired by the fearless flavors of Beijing street venders. Emperor then pairs the meat–fiery with a crust of cayenne and cumin–with a brilliant pickled potato salad for a high-impact (but low-effort) dinner.

Recipe adapted from Bryan Emperor, Kalu Asian Kitchen, Charlotte, NC

Shinjiang Lamb
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A spicy lamb recipe from chef Bryan Emperor's Kalu restaurant in Charlotte
Servings
4
servings
Ingredients
  • Pickled Potatoes
  • 4 small Idaho potatoes (about 1½ pounds), peeled and very thinly sliced
  • 1½ cups rice wine vinegar
  • 1½ cups water
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • Lamb
  • 4 two-rib lamb racks, (about 1½ pounds)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1½ teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 450°. In a medium saucepan, combine the vinegar, water, salt and sugar and bring to a rolling boil. Drop the potato slices into the vinegar mixture, cook until tender, about 5 to 10 minutes, and remove from the heat. Let the potatoes stand in the liquid while you cook the lamb.
  2. Season the lamb generously with salt and pepper. Place the racks, bone-side down, on a rimmed baking sheet and roast until the exterior has browned but the center remains very rare, about 12 minutes. Remove the lamb from the oven, brush it with the vegetable oil and dredge in the cumin and cayenne mixture to coat. Roast until the lamb registers 135° on an instant-read thermometer. Let the lamb rest for 5 minutes before serving.
  3. Drain the potatoes and discard the cooking liquid. Divide the potatoes among 4 plates. Slice each lamb rack in half, place the pieces on top of the potatoes and serve immediately.
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