Over the past decade, Las Vegas has become one of the best gourmet restaurant cities in the world. Ever since Wolfgang Puck decided that his second Spago restaurant should be located inside the Forum Shops at Caesar's Palace, chefs from Thomas Keller of Napa Valley's French Laundry to Iron Chef Mario Batali (clogs and all) have opened up at least one restaurant in Sin City (at last count, Mario had three.) So, when it comes to finding the best cuisine that Las Vegas has to offer, you need not venture away from the strip and you should expect to spend beaucoup bucks, right? Not entirely.
Lotus of Siam (LOS for those in the know) has been named the best Thai restaurant in America multiple times by Gourmet magazine, and it is consistently ranked in the top 5 Las Vegas restaurants by Zagat's survey. The service is excellent, and you can have an authentic Thai feast for two, spending less than $75, including drinks. Here's the catch: As far as location goes, LOS leaves a bit to be desired. It's located in an old dark shopping center east of the strip, next to a wig shop and several other, um, Vegas-type establishments. The good news is that it is completely packed every night, so you should feel very safe, but I advise you to make reservations early, because they fill up quickly and there is no bar (and you don't want to go to the bar next door, trust me.)
We went to LOS last week with friends, and ever since, I have been craving some more spicy Thai cuisine. This recipe contains flavors typical in many Thai dishes: peanut, curry, and coconut. Just like when you dine at Thai restaurants, you can adjust the heat to your liking. The juicy mango helps to cool things down a bit too. Here are a few tips for these spicy skewers:
- If you prefer a little less spice in your food, reduce the amount of red curry paste that you use by half. Add a little more if you like your food extra spicy! You can find the paste in the Asian foods section of your grocery store, usually in a small jar.
- The peanut glaze can be refrigerated, covered, for up to one week.
- This sauce would also be great on grilled beef, spareribs, shrimp, or pork, or serve it alongside crudites as a dip. You can also mix it into rice noodles or stir-fries.
- If you find that the kebabs are becoming too charred while grilling, reduce the heat a bit or move them to the side of the grill so that they are not directly over the heat.
- Try substituting papayas, pineapple, or even peaches for the mangoes. You can also add fresh vegetables, such as peppers, onions, or zucchini to the kebabs.
Thai-Peanut Glazed Chicken and Mango Kebabs
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
6 tablespoons peanut butter
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce
2 large mangoes, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces, about 1/4 inch thick
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
Vegetable or canola oil for grilling
Lime wedges for serving (optional)
Prepare sauce: In a medium saucepan, heat the peanut oil. Add the shallot and garlic and cook over medium heat, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the curry paste and whisk for 1 minute. Add the brown sugar and stir until melted. Whisk in the peanut butter and then slowly whisk in the coconut milk. Simmer for 2 minutes and then remove from heat. Whisk in the lime juice and fish sauce and set aside.
Light a grill or preheat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Toss the mango and chicken with 1/4 cup of the peanut sauce and lightly season with salt and pepper. Loosely thread the mango and chicken onto 8 skewers, alternating the pieces. Brush the skewers with oil and grill, turning occasionally, until the chicken is lightly charred in spots and nearly cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Brush 2 tablespoons of the peanut sauce on the skewers and grill, turning, until lightly browned, about 2 minutes.
Serve with lime wedges, passing remaining sauce on the side.