Jasmine Braised Chinese Beef Ribs

Bank holiday Monday morning and I found myself rummaging through the freezer for some meat to cook. It’s always at this point that I get annoyed with myself for hardly ever writing on the brown paper packages at least some form of hint as to their contents. There’s mostly guess work involved trying to figure out if that roundish looking parcel is ox liver or cheek just by feeling the frozen bumps and texture through the paper. I really should use up some more of that beef tallow that I’ve got stored in there as it’s just annoying the hell out of me now, new rule: nothing goes in the freezer that I can’t eat or drink.

Anyway, I pulled out a bag of beef ribs that I had actually remembered to write on with a Sharpie. I have no potatoes or pasta in the house today so rice was going to be my carbs, therefore a Chinese inspired dish for this grey, windy holiday was in order.

If I took all the jars out of my fridge at the moment there would just be milk and a bit of Grana Padano cheese left staring back at me. Many of these jars are Chinese preserved and fermented vegetables that can turn what looks like a few sad vegetables lying in the salad drawer into a quick and tasty dinner in under 15 minutes.

I defrosted the ribs and set about making my marinade for them. I would need a bit of braising sauce for their long cook in the oven and as I had no sherry I decided to use jasmine tea as a base. It turned out that it really worked well with the dense beef, it was subtle but you could definitely tell it was there (although I did sex it up with a bit of lapsang souchong for a touch of smokiness).

                  Defrosting, marinading and after 4 1/2 hrs slow braise under foil

Ingredients:

  • Beef ribs
  • lime (to serve)
  • rice

For the marinade:

  • 1 heaped teaspoon Chinese 5 Spice
  • 3 balls preserved stem ginger, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dried garlic slivers
  • 1 teaspoon dried ginger
  • 1 heaped teaspoon hot fermented black bean paste
  • 1 heaped teaspoon Hong You Dou Ban (hot broadbean paste)
  • 3 tablespoons syrupy blackberry vinegar

For the braising liquid:

  • 3 Jasmine teabags
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon good lapsang souchong tea strands
  • 1 teaspoon Essential Cuisine powdered beef stock

Method:

Combine the marinade ingredients then cover the ribs and leave for about an hour. Put a bit of oil in a roasting pan and heat it on the hob, add your ribs and turn every now and again until all the sides are caramelised then add your braising liquid, cover tightly with foil and put in an oven preheated to 170C. Cook for about 4 hours, basting every now and again. Serve with steamed rice and spoon over the incredible pan juices. A squeeze of lime over the top will cut through the richness perfectly (unless you have calamansi then use that).

 

 

 

Quick Kelp Noodles and Fermented Coconut Nectar

Having lived in both Hong Kong and Japan and spent many months in the Philippines, it surprises me that whilst Chinese and Japanese food is widely eaten in the UK, Filipino food has never really caught on. It’s a shame as Filipino culture really is centred around food and family and if you haven’t tried it then you really are missing out on a feast of culinary delights.

I’m going to write a separate blog post all about Philippine food but for now this is my favourite quick noodle dish that incorporates Chinese, Japanese and Filipino products beautifully and is amazing at using up leftover salad leaves and veg.

My cupboards are full of sauces, condiments and pickles from around the world. This noodle dish uses dried kelp and Japanese noodles called Demae Ramen made by Nissin and they have been my favourite noodles since I was about 10 years old.  We had them for breakfast most days before school in Hong Kong and their chicken noodles remain my favourite breakfast and, when called for, most reliable hangover remedy to date! Spiced fermented coconut water is not for the feint hearted.  The coconut water has been fermented with chillies, garlic, ginger, salt and sweet peppers to produce a potent sweet-spicy vinegar that is completely addictive (well for me anyway).

Just take a handful of dried kelp strands and add them to water that has had the noodle flavour sachet added and cook for a few minutes before adding your noodles.  Chuck in any leftover bits of veg – broccoli, peas, cabbage, whatever is floating in the bottom of your fridge really.  Cook for a minute then tip into a big bowl, cover with leftover salad, pour over your spiced fermented coconut water, some Chinese chillies preserved in oil and some dried garlic slivers and you have an amazing bowl of loveliness.