Sticky pork spare ribs

Oh my lordy be, these sticky pork spare ribs are good. I reckon you could also do it to a whole piece of pork belly or to American style ribs, even beef ribs and get a sensational result.

There is a two step cooking process so you’re probably not making this on a school night but don’t let me stop you. We had it a couple of nights ago and there were leftovers (unheard of) (they were DELICIOUS cold too) but I’m already hankering for them again. I’ll going to experiment with different cuts of meat so I’ll keep you posted.

Asian pork spare ribs for #everyfuckingnight. What's on your plate?
Asian pork spare ribs for #everyfuckingnight. What’s on your plate?

Sticky pork spare ribs
 
A spicy sticky recipe for Chinese pork spare ribs
Author:
Ingredients
  • 12 Chinese pork spare ribs (these seem to be slightly different everywhere I get them, but they strips generally without a bone in them but sometimes a little bit of bone in them. Isn't that helpful. I now just get them at the Asian butcher because I figure it's gotta be right from there.)
  • 4 star anise
  • 4 slices ginger
Marinade
  • 1 cup kecap manis (a thick sweet soy sauce, most supermarkets now stock it)
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 tbsp finely grated ginger
  • 1 tbsp dried chilli flakes (it sounds like a lot and the result is spicy but not mind-blowingly so, and that's on my palate which doesn't tolerate stupidly spicy food. Oscar also eats them and he is a no go zone for spicy food. Weird huh.)
  • 2 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
Instructions
  1. Pop the pork, star anise and ginger into a saucepan and cover with cold water
  2. Bring it to the boil and then reduce to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes
  3. While the pork is cooking make the marinade by mixing it all together
  4. Preheat your oven to 180C
  5. Line 1-2 baking trays with baking paper
  6. Drain the ribs and lie them flat on the trays
  7. Using a pastry brush liberally cover the pork in the marinade on both sides
  8. Bake for 20 minutes, turning half way and basting with any left over marinade when the mood takes you (sometimes I completely forget the basting and guess what, still delicious!)
  9. Serve with steamed greens and rice
  10. Eat until your arteries clog.

 

Onward!

Hot January nights

Sydney summers are a trigger event for me which I attribute to being born in December 1972. It held the dubious honour of being the hottest month on record as well as host to the hottest Australian day on record. That is, until yesterday. Yesterday the national average temperature was 40.3THOUSAND degrees Celsius. At the moment weather forecasters in Australia are talking about a DOME OF HEAT which is COVERING THE ENTIRE CONTINENT. Just writing that sentence caused me to stop, shake out my hands, take a deep breath and reassure myself I am not going to die. (SHE LIES! DEATH IS IMMINENT)

There are not enough words for me to adequately express my comprehensive dissatisfaction with the concept and reality of summer. The word itself is a fine example of latin, greek, gaelic and chinese derivatives coming together as not one of them could generate a word off their own bat to truly describe a three month period that delivered sweat, chaffing and clothing with inadequate skin coverage. It is unacceptable.

As we approach summerhell Australians have a competition to see which broadcaster or media outlet will use the phrase “tinderbox” first. We have a record of savage bushfires which are remembered decades later with a reverence normally reserved for the horse race, remembrance and invasion day. It was Tasmania’s turn last week with more than 100 houses razed and 100 people still unaccounted for. One death is too many due to a bushfire but Tasmania is not a big state. Such loss is profound.

In the midst of our own Hades Day yesterday I somehow mustered energy to make a proper dinner for the first time in what felt like months. I know it hasn’t been months but it occurred to me that about 80% if the boys’ diet in the last month has been Fruit Loops* and 2-minute noodles. As my mate Jane said, palm oil and sugar, the food stuffs of champions.

I instagramed the shit out of because, quite frankly, that’s what I do and if we’re NOT instagraming the shit out of dinner then did we really have dinner at all?

 

Hot summer nights dinner
Hot summer nights dinner

 

A lovely follower @clareanna01 left  a message on the pic:

Please tell me that you made this and that you will add it to your recipe list on your blog? It’s been a sh*thouse [isn’t that adorable, she did that asterix] couple of weeks down in Tassie and for the first time since last Thurs (when the bushfires started) you’ve made me hungry.

I promised her I’d post the recipes that night and then promptly fell into a codeine induced coma (until I woke up and read from about 1am to 4am because I AM READING AGAIN, thank you Nexus table that I got for my 40th!). Nice work Kim, bring someone traumatised back to the table, make promises and then leave them hungry.

So here we go, a day late but here. A dinner for hot summer nights.

Lime and mint chicken

  • 1kg chicken thighs, cut into strips (depending on how big they are)
  • 1 lime, cut into rough wedges which you then, using your hands, squeeze the juice out of over the chicken and then add the rinds to the bowl
  • couple of garlic cloves you’ve just smashed with the side of a knife so you can lose the skins
  • handful of sprigs of mint you’ve roughly torn up or chopped
  • pinch of salt, couple of turns of the pepper grinder and a few lugs of olive oil
  1. Get your hands in there and smoosh it all together then let it marinate for as long as you’ve got – I gave it a couple of hours in a rare moment of foresight.
  2. Cook on the bbq until done.

Bogan salad

I have no idea if this salad is an Australian invention. It smacks of something that Americans would go giddy over and I really don’t want it to be something this country can claim ownership of. It is NOT in the league of the lamington, the pavlova or the ANZAC biscuit although granted it is just as addictive.

It’s officially called Chang’s Noodle Salad I call it The Bogan Salad because COME ON, the ONLY salad ingredient in this is the wombok cabbage. There are shallots in it as well but let’s face it, that we’re listing that as evidence it is a salad is evidence THIS IS NOT A SALAD. What it is is a vehicle for fried noodles, toasted nuts and a dressing made of a LOT of oil, sugar and some more oil.

Hence, bogan salad.

  • 1/2 wombok cabbages, finely shredded
  • 125g packed slivered almonds, toasted
  • 4 shallots, finely sliced
  • 1 packet Chang’s fried noodles
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2tbsp soy sauce
  • 2tsp sesame oil
  1. Combine the “salad” ingredients in a bowl
  2. Combine the dressing ingredients in a jar and shake until the sugar is dissolved. Don’t try to see if you can reduce the sugar amounts or the oil, just embrace it for what it is and don’t make it every day.
  3. Combine and eat until your head falls off.

 

Jamie Oliver’s quick pickled cucumber salad

Now, there’s a cucumber salad in the same vein in both Jamie’s 30-minute and his 15-minute meals books. The 30-minute meal one is better and this is the recipe from that book.

  • 1 telegraph cucumber that you’ve peeled into ribbons using a vegetable peeler
  • a thumb size piece of ginger, about 2cm – although use less depending on your love of ginger
  • 3tbsp olive oil (I don’t bother with this at all anymore)
  • 1tbsp soy sauce
  • 1tsp sesame oil
  • 1 lime
  • fresh coriander
  • fresh red chilli – if you want to
  1. Mix the dressing stuff together – and have a taste – add a bit more soy or lime depending on how it tastes. I tend to hold back on the ginger and then add more if it needs it.
  2. Just before you’re going to sit down to eat, toss the ribbons of cucumber in the dressing and sprinkle with coriander all fancy like.
Check out my buns
Check out my buns

Jamie Oliver’s 15-minute meals coconut buns

OK, I have to fess up. Someone posted a pic of these on Instagram the night before and all of the above was made basically so I could make – and eat – these. Offering up these little puppies shifts a pretty tasty but fairly normal dinner in this house to fancy, fancy, fancy, f-fancy. And look, I know I say these things are a snap and those of you less comfortable in the kitchen roll your eyes and say on the inside, like I’m ever going to make that.

You need to make these. They’re not that coconutty which I found disappointing. I suspect it’s because he uses light coconut milk but I’m really just guessing. Next time I am contemplating putting a few drops of coconut essence in as well. We shall see.

Now, Jamie whips the dough up in a food processor which is just madness. I LOVE my food processor but hate having to wash it up with a passion I normally reserve for Mythbusters. It’s a ridiculous avoidance-inducing hatred because really, it’s not that hard to wash up. I think it’s a shape thing. Let’s file this under #notsane and not mention it again.

 

Basically the dough is a SNAP – very similar to that I use for the spring onion (or shallots) pancakes and you can whip it up by hand in minutes without having to wash up weird food processor bowls and lids with funnels. They’re doughy – you’re going to tear a bit off, whack a bit of chicken on it with a piece of gingery vinergary cucumber and forget that it’s still 38C at 7:30pm.

  • 400ml tin of lite coconut milk
  • 2 tinfuls of SR flour
  • pinch of salt
  1. Combine everything until it comes together and knead it slightly until it’s  smooth. This is not like a bread or pizza dough, I’m talking like a minute or two. In hindsight I probably could have kneaded mine for a minute or two longer but seriously, COCONUT BUNS!
  2. Roll it into a log, cut it into 8 pieces and roll them into balls.
  3. Place each one inside 2 muffin cases then in an Asian steamer – I didn’t have muffin cases so just bunged them in the steamer that I’d lined with baking paper. Worked a charm.
  4. Then steam them for about 7-8 minutes. You’ll know if they’re done by just pulling them apart slightly and seeing if they’re cooked or still doughy.

It actually feels criminal calling that a recipe.

 

So there you have it. The perfect dinner for hot summer nights.

 

ONWARD!

 

 

*only ever purchased in the holidays and this time around conveniently on special. At last count I think we’d gone through eight boxes.

 

Sushi at home – make your own sushi

Sushi prep
Chopping showcase

Sushi

The boys ADORE sushi. Going to sushi train for us is ex.pen.sive. Up there with yum cha in that they have NO off switch. Still – I reconcile their addiction with the fact they’re relatively easy to make at home and fall into the “really good for you” category.

The unspoken simply expected rule in this house is that I will make fried chicken to go in the rolls. I could pretty much fry anything and the boys would eat it but MY GOODNESS put some fried strips of chicken in front of them and it’s like twilight at the watering hole.

I’ll give you a quite guide to the fried chicken:

– marinate it in some teriyaki or soy and it lifts the flavour very nicely

– get a little station set up with a bowl of POTATO starch (have to have to have to use this – it is THE flour to use when it comes to frying stuff if you want a cripsy outer shell. Yes cornflour will work but it’s not the same), a bowl of lightly beaten eggs, a bowl of your crumb of choice. In the picture below I just used packet breadcrumbs (I know, I know. I even HAD homemade breadcrumbs in the freezer but in this case a fine crumb works best) but they really are in a different league if you use panko crumbs. My local supermarket doesn’t stock them. It irritates me.

– Get your wok all fired up and pour in enough oil to come up the sides and give the chicken room to move once you start cooking. Now here’s another COMPLETE revelation to me thanks to Ruth at Gourmet Girlfriend – Rice Bran Oil. It has REVOLUTIONISED my frying capabilities and basically eradicated my fear of the fry. It has a much higher smoking point which means stuff cooks better in it without burning the outside and being raw inside, I think.

And I must say here – frying is not the healthiest option in the universe, but in making this chicken when I drain the oil out of the wok afterwards it is obvious that the amount of oil absorbed by the chicken is minimal.

– Make a lot of chicken in one go. Yes it is time consuming but it means you will have left-overs for lunches and/or dinner the next day. I file this under ‘winning’.

Chicken strips
Chicken crack

So, you’ve got your chicken which you’re going to slice into thinner strips and all your other fillings – carrot, cucumber, shallots, baby corn, capsicum, whatever takes your fancy.

The rice

  • 4 cups rice
  • 1 litre water
  • 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 4tblsp caster sugar
  • 1tsp salt
  1. Mix the rice wine vinegar, caster sugar and salt together and set aside.
  2. Rinse the rice until the water runs clear the place in a saucepan with the water. Bring it to the boil and once you see little tunnels in the rice appear and most of the water is absorbed turn the heat right down, put the lid on and steam for 10 minutes. Then take off the heat, keep the lid on and let it sit for another 5 minutes.
  3. Tip the rice into a shallow tray and pour over the vinegar mixture. Keep turning the rice to ensure it’s all covered and to cool the rice down.
Sushi rolls
rolled up goodness

So now you’re going to take your seaweed sheet and spread rice over most of the sheet. Leave a small line at the end which is handy for when you roll it up. Don’t be stingy with the rice and don’t overload either – you’ll work it out.

Then choose your fillings and lie them in a row across the rice about 1/3 of the way from the bottom. Don’t go crazy – one single width of each filling if you’re using a variety, a few more if just going with one.

Take the bottom of the roll and then turn over the filling – don’t stress about this step, you’ll be using your fingertips to keep the fillings in place as your palms and thumbs pull the seaweed sheet over them.

You want the roll to be nice and tight so when you eat it it doesn’t fall apart.

But you know what? If it falls apart it is OK. You’ll get more adept at it with each roll.

And there you have it – you made your own sushi! Serve with a little dipping dish of soy, some wasabi, pickled ginger and a cup of delicate Japanese green tea.

Get onto it will you?

OH, other things that you can make to round the meal out:

Spring onion pancakes

Pork dumplings/gyoza

Chicken moon dumplings

Dumpling dipping sauce

 

 

 

ONWARD!

Szechuan style eggplant

HOLY SMOKE peeps, these are on.the.money. if you’re looking for something hot, something vegetarian and something addictive that is not chocolate or doughnuts. And well, savoury.

I first tried these at an amazing eatery in Melbourne. Technically they should be way too hot for my palate but they work their own magic in making have another, and then another and then another. I then craved them for for ever and it was only sifting through Neil Perry’s book that I thought, hang on a minute, I think that’s them. I’m still yet to replicate that dish I had in Melbourne but it’s bloody close and that’ll have to do.

Here is my biggest tip in the whole Asian cooking thing. As far as I’m concerned it is the zenith for mis-en-place. Have all your ducks lined up in a row people, have it beside the stove and go go go. GO!

Shallots, garlic and ginger
The starting point
Eggplants, chilli bean paste, vinegar, szechuan peppers
Penis eggplants!
Frying eggplant
Deep frying makes everything better
Fried eggplant
A thing of beauty
Sauce for Szechuan eggplant
Cooking off the sauce.
Szechuan-style eggplant
Heaven on a plate

Szechuan-style eggplant
 
Spicy fried eggplants. Highly addictive.
Author:
Ingredients
  • 550 g Japanese eggplants
  • 500 ml vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • ½ knob ginger, finely chopped
  • 3 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 3 tbsp shaoxing
  • 3 tbsp hot bean paste
  • 2½ tbsp yellow bean soy sauce (I just used dark soy)
  • 100 ml rice vinegar
  • 65g (1/3 cup) crushed yellow rock sugar
  • ½ tsp ground Szechuan pepper
Instructions
  1. Cut the eggplants in half lengthways while the oil is heating in the wok
  2. Once it's smoking then deep-fry the eggplants until golden brown. This doesn't take that long, and I just turned them every so often. I often find deep-frying quite stressful with the whole, is it cooked enough, is the oil hot enough, too hot, blah blah blah. Now I use rice bran oil (much higher smoking point so good for deep frying) and wait until it's really smoking and then wing it. That's great advice hey. Just back yourself, ok? Ok.
  3. Discard the oil you cooked the eggplants in
  4. Pour about 2 tablespoons of oil in the pan and once smoking add the shallots, ginger and garlic. Keep them moving and once you can really smell their goodness then add the shaoxing.
  5. Then add the chilli paste, soy, vinegar and sugar. (Have this all measured and in a bowl together so you can just toss it in.)
  6. Bring to the boil and cook for two minutes.
  7. Add the eggplants, mashing them slightly so they absorb more of the flavour and cook for another two minutes.
  8. Turn onto a plate and scatter over some more shallots and ground Szechuan pepper.
  9. Devour.

 

Chilli bean paste
Current chilli addiction.

Onward!

 

Come here my little dumpling…

Dumplings make everything better. That’s it really. I had a complete brain fart the other week but a dumplings session with Woogs, Sarah and the world righted itself toot sweet.

And don’t be nervous about working with the gow gee wrappers, they are remarkable robust and if sealing them with the little fancy folds is too intimidating then just moisten the edges fold the pastry over and voila, gorgeous half moons of goodness.

Now, what follows is two recipes for you. The first is the one I have always used in the past, the other from Adam Liaw, winner of Season 2 of MasterChef Australia. I made this on the weekend and think it worth including here. The flavour is a lot more delicate and look, it’s just so easy.

I tend to make a big batch of the filling and then freeze containers of what is left over so I can whip up another batch down the track. Sorted.

Goodness on a plate.

Pork and garlic chive dumplings

  • 250g fatty minced pork (do not come over all healthy on me, you need the fat for flavour)
  • 1 egg
  • 1tbsp very finely grated ginger
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped garlic chives
  • 2tbsp Shaoxing wine
  • 40 gow gee wrappers
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well, for a good 10 minutes and season well
All about flavour

Adam Liaw’s pork dumpling filling

  • 1kg fatty pork
  • 1 cup finely chopped and blanched Chinese cabbage
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2tsp grated ginger
  • 1tbsp white vinegar
  • 2tbsp cornstarch
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1/2tsp white pepper
  1. Mix all the ingredients together and knead for about 10 minutes. Refrigerate for 30 minutes
  2. Use it as is or add other flavourings now. (I’ve used some rehydrated Chinese mushrooms finely chopped and finely chopped water chestnuts)

To assemble and cook:

  1. Place a heaped teaspoon of mix in the centre of the wrapper, dab water around the edge and seal. Make sure there’s no air in the pocket with the meat. Either seal as a half moon shape or then bring the bottom of one side up, and again and again to make a little parcel.
  2. If using in a soup or to simply boil, drop into boiling water and once they rise to the surface cook for a further two minutes and then remove.
  3. For pot stickers – heat a little oil in the frypan and add the dumplings. Brown a little and then add water half way up the sides of the dumplings. Keep cooking, shaking the pan a little every now and then until the water has evaporated and the dumplings are left to fry again.
  4. Serve with the dipping sauce.
Ready for cooking

 

Pot stickers, gyoza, whatever you call them they’re tasty