Miami is home to a plethora of Nikkei restaurants, blending the best of Peruvian and Japanese flavors and techniques. And for chef Fernando Salazar of prime steakhouse Platea, their preponderance in the Magic City is far from surprising.
“Miami is a mecca and melting pot of influence from all over the Americas and beyond into Asia,” Salazar explains, citing this culinary open-mindedness as a prime source of inspiration in the kitchen.
“I can use classic dishes and add a touch of my heritage,” he says, “as well as influence these dishes with new flavors inspired by the local community of chefs and restaurants.”
At his Platea, a signature Peruvian spice rub is used to season USDA Prime cuts, while classic steakhouse sides are given a bit of an edge, like a char-grilled romaine Caesar served with boquerones or Brussels sprouts spiced with a hefty helping of ginger. But there is perhaps no dish on the menu more emblematic of his approach than the rack of lamb, redolent with herbs like rosemary and oregano and aromatics like ginger, garlic and Peruvian chili paste, all suspended in a heady, umami-rich base of dark beer and soy sauce.
Given its rich flavor profile, this recipe is surprisingly hands-off. The marinade does most of the work, and after two days in the fridge, the lamb requires just a short trip through a very hot oven for maximum caramelization.
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It’s a recipe that, perhaps counter-intuitively, is actually inspired by a roast chicken recipe: Salazar’s childhood favorite, pollo a la brasa.
“The smell, the taste and the memories of the whole family gathering around the table to share such a simple dish is what I wanted to translate into this lamb dish,” he explains.
The flavors do indeed stand up just as well to gamier lamb, which, while popular in Peru, was a bit of a leap for the chef, who didn’t grow up enjoying this more assertive flavor profile. Nevertheless, he says, “seeing a rack of lamb chops nicely marinated and grilled to perfection was mouthwatering for me.”
“I sought to create a flavor that would go well with a gamey protein and complement it,” he adds, “as well as enhance it for anyone that ever doubted how good lamb could be.”
Doubt no longer. Below, Salazar’s recipe straight from the chef himself.
Platea's Roasted Rack of Lamb "a la Brasa"
Prep Time: Overnight
- 2 (18 to 28-oz.) racks of lamb
- For the marinade:
- 2 rosemary stems, remove the rosemary from the stem
- 1 Tbsp. dried oregano
- 8 garlic cloves
- 1 Tbsp. ground cumin
- 3 Tbsp. aji panca (Peruvian dried chili paste)
- Ginger, a small piece, equal to 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 Tbsp. whole black pepper
- 3 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 3½ Tbsp. salt
- 1 glass black (or lager) beer
- 2 Tbsp. white vinegar
Combine all the marinade ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.
Rub a portion of the marinade into the rack of lamb, and then place in a large plastic bag. Pour the remaining marinade over the meat, and swish around to evenly coat the pieces. Marinate for at least 6 hours or overnight. (I highly recommend 24-48 hours for an amazing flavor!)
If using a convection oven (that’s what I use for crispier skin): Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F and roast the lamb for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 325 degrees F and roast for another 15-20 minutes or until the internal temp reads 165 degrees F.
If using a conventional oven: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and roast the lamb chops on the middle rack of the oven until the internal temperature reads 160 degrees F, about 45 minutes. If the skin begins to brown too much, move the roasting pan to the bottom rack. You can also reduce the oven temperature.
Remove the lamb from the oven, slice into portions and serve.
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