Spicing It Up

A blend of bright, bold Asian flavors inspires chef Patricia Yeo’s al fresco dinner party.

The Menu

Lamb Tenderloin Satay, Uyghur-Style

Yeo prefers to use whole spices rather than pre-ground ones; the flavor is more intense and aromatic. Serve the skewers solo, or plate them with flatbread and wedges of fresh lime. (Lamb tenderloin can often be ordered from a good butcher; if you can’t find it, you can substitute beef.)

8 lamb tenderloins
1  ancho chili, seeds removed, cut into thin strips
1/4  c. toasted coriander seeds
2   tbsp. toasted cumin seeds
2   tbsp. black peppercorns
2   tbsp. chopped garlic
Juice of 2 oranges and 1 lemon

Cut lamb into bite-size pieces. Grind toasted spices and peppercorns in a spice mill or with a mortar and pestle. Mix with garlic, chili strips, and juices. Marinate lamb for 15 to 30 minutes, skewer, and grill.


Vietnamese Summer Rolls

These refreshing soft rolls are traditionally served only during the warmer season, whereas their fried cousins are served in cooler months. Yeo cuts them in half, making them a perfectly sized hors d’oeuvre.

1   package round rice-paper sheets (Yeo prefers Red Rose brand)
1   12-ounce bottle of beer, preferably a lager
8  leaves of Boston lettuce, center ribs removed
16  sprigs cilantro
4  (each) basil and mint leaves, torn into small pieces
1  carrot, julienned
1  red pepper, julienned
1  hothouse cucumber, julienned

16 poached shrimp

In a small saucepan, bring 2 cups of water and the beer to a simmer. Dip each piece of rice paper into warmed beer mixture to soften, and lay on a clean, flat surface. Top each piece with an equal portion of lettuce, vegetables, herbs, and shrimp, then roll up like a giant cigar and slice in half. If preparing the rolls in advance, they will keep very well at room temperature wrapped in a damp, lint-free towel. Serve with nuoc cham sauce.


Nuoc Cham Sauce

2  Thai bird chilies or jalapeños (or more, if you prefer it extra-spicy)
2  cloves garlic
1   carrot, grated
1/4  cup fish sauce (Yeo prefers Three Crabs brand)
Juice of 3 limes
Sugar to taste

In a food processor or blender, purée hot peppers and garlic with lime juice, fish sauce, and sugar. Add  cup water and fold in grated carrot. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Mini Banh Mi Sandwiches

Yeo makes her own roast pork and pâté in her restaurants, but for a quicker alternative, she suggests buying char siu, or Chinese barbecued pork belly, from Chinatown and using prepared pâté. The best mini baguettes for banh mi are light and crackly; she gets hers at Quinzani’s Bakery on Harrison Avenue. Just before assembling the sandwiches, slightly moisten the bread, then bake in a 500-degree oven for 10 minutes and cut while still warm.

8  mini baguettes
1   lb. roast pork or char siu
1/4  lb. country-style pâté
1   cucumber, peeled, seeds removed, and julienned
1/2  c. pickled carrots (recipe follows)
1/2  c. pickled jalapeños (recipe follows)
1   c. mayonnaise
8   sprigs fresh cilantro

Thinly slice roast pork. Spread cut baguettes generously with pâté and mayonnaise and stuff with roast pork, then top with pickled carrots and jalapeños, cucumber, and cilantro.