Tuesday, January 20, 2009


On hot days when the kids were little we sometimes drove to Mandurah to take advantage of the public barbeques in the sea-breeze-cooled park on the estuary. During one of these outings, while I was cooking snags and chops, I was approached by a Vietnamese couple who wanted to use the barbeque when I finished – the couple was obviously intimidated by the assorted bogans using the other barbeques and felt I was the least threatening so they approached me. I suggested there was plenty of room so they could start cooking whenever they were ready.

My new friend pulled from his esky an old plastic ice cream carton filled with very cheap marinaded forequarter lamb chops. An unusual and intirguing smell filled the air as soon as the first chop hit the grill. Responding to my obvious interest my new friend immediately offered some chops for us to try. They were the best lamb I've ever tasted.

Here's the basics of the recipe provided by the very nice Vietnamese guy who shared his food with us.

What you'll need:
  • Lamb chops (however many you need, cheap or expensive – the more fat the better)
  • Beer (I prefer Cascade but suit yourself)
  • Sugar (the darker the sugar, the heavier the taste)
  • Onion (I prefer red but suit yourself)
  • Fish sauce (for cooking, the darker the better; if you plan to also use it as a condiment you'll want translucent, golden)
You'll have noticed no quantities are given. That's because you're going to measure the ingredients by eyeball.

Right, when the Cascade is icy cold pop one open and take a swig – barbequing completely sober is un-Australian. Now place the quantity of chops you'll need to feed your guests in an unreractive container (glass, plastic, ceramic, etc,. not metal) – the chops should just fit in the container in a single layer. Put the chops back in the fridge and have some more beer while you prepare the marinade.

Set up the food processor and throw in enough onion to cover the chops. Process the onion until it just starts to liquify. Pour in enough fish suace so that you got a nice slurry – don't worry, the chops will taste nothing like the smell. Now add as much sugar as you think will dissolve in the onion/fish sauce slurry. When fully mixed pour the slurry over the chops and return to the fridge. Allow to marinade for up to two hours – the first time you try this you might want to cook the chops after an hour; if you leave them longer they could be too salty for you. Turn the chops once, keeping their tops covered with the finely chopped onion bits.

Cook the chops at reasonably high temperature but not as hot as you'd use for blasting a steak; the sugar in the marinade will burn. When the fat is crisped to your likning they're done. And since you've by now had three or four beers they're going to be extra-tasty. Enjoy.


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