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CULINARY SOS

Ewe Heard It Here First

July 14, 1999

DEAR SOS: I'm hoping you can locate a recipe for lamb in peanut sauce that was served at Trader Vic's in Beverly Hills years ago. It's my fiance's favorite recipe, and I would like to prepare it for him.

CAROL A. PEDERSEN

Long Beach

DEAR CAROL: Unfortunately, that particular lamb dish is no longer served at Trader Vic's. Executive chef Tony Barans did, however, supply the restaurant's popular signature rack of lamb recipe. You will have to dash to a Thai or Asian food market for a few ingredients, including Thai whole basil leaves and the sriracha chile sauce. Barans suggests using regular basil and brandy, if neither Thai basil nor Shaoxing, a Chinese cooking wine, are available.

Trader Vic's Cha Shu Roasted Lamb Rack

Active Work Time: 30 minutes * Total Preparation Time: 1 hour 15 minutes plus 24 hours standing time

GUAJILLO CHILE PASTE

2 guajillo chiles

3/4 cup rice vinegar

1/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed

* Stem and seed chiles. Toast in dry skillet over medium-high heat 1 to 2 minutes.

* Simmer chiles, vinegar and sugar in saucepan 10 to 12 minutes. Puree mixture until smooth. Let stand 24 hours, covered, at room temperature, or prepare up to several weeks ahead and refrigerate.

GINGER OIL

1 (2-inch) piece ginger root

1/3 cup olive oil

* Bruise ginger root by smashing it with flat side of cleaver. In small pan, bring ginger and olive oil to a boil. Let cool to room temperature. Let stand 24 hours, covered, at room temperature, or prepare up to several weeks ahead and refrigerate.

LAMB

3 tablespoons oil

10 whole Thai basil leaves or large Italian basil leaves

3 cloves garlic, chopped

2 (11- to 12-ounce) racks of lamb

1/4 cup Shaoxing wine or brandy

Guajillo Chile Paste

3 tablespoons Sriracha chile sauce

* Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add basil leaves and garlic and cook until slightly browned, about 45 seconds. Remove from heat and set aside.

* In same skillet heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Brown lamb racks, about 1 minute each side. Discard oil. Reduce heat to medium, add wine or brandy and ignite, being careful to keep hands and clothing from contact. Let flames die down. Set lamb in baking pan.

* Combine Guajillo Chile Paste, chile sauce, Ginger Oil and wine reduction in a mixing bowl. Completely coat lamb with sauces. Cover surface of lamb with reserved basil leaves and garlic, using 5 whole leaves per lamb rack.

* Bake lamb at 300 degrees until done as desired (140 degrees for rare, 160 degrees for medium and 170 degrees for medium-well) or grill over hot coals until done as desired, about 20 minutes. Serve at once.

6 to 8 servings. Each of 8 servings: 342 calories; 117 mg sodium; 39 mg cholesterol; 26 grams fat; 10 grams carbohydrates; 8 grams protein; 0.23 gram fiber.

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