Sticky, sweet and spicy Chinese style ribs

When you fancy a Chinese takeaway the lure of the ribs on the menu tends to be strong… well at least in my mind anyway. Try making your own so you can make them as sweet, savoury or as spicy as you want- or all three! A rack of pork ribs is inexpensive and an average sized rack feeds two people so it’s a bargain! Keep your eyes out for a rack that has plenty of meat on it as some can be a little scrawny and that only brings disappointment rather than pure porky joy!

If you cast your eye down the list of ingredients you will notice that one of them is not Chinese, but Korean: gochujang. When I was putting the marinade together I thought what would give a deep chilli flavour but stand up to the other ingredients so it was settled.

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Ingredients- serves 4
2 racks of pork ribs
120ml oyster or hoisin sauce
60ml dark soy sauce
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
3 tbsp dark brown sugar
2 tbsp runny honey
1 tbsp gochujang
2 cm piece fresh ginger- grated
2 garlic cloves- crushed
1 tbsp ground five spice

1. Ideally the ribs would have around 3 hours in the fridge marinating but overnight is perfect if you have a bit more time. Simply mix together all the ingredients in a bowl and pour most of the marinade over the racks. Cover and place in the fridge to marinate.

2. When you are ready to cook the ribs, preheat the oven to 160c/ 140 fan. Wrap the racks of ribs in foil parcels and make sure they are tightly sealed. Cook in the oven for around 3 hours (depending on the size of the racks). After this time the racks should be tender and flexible so you know they are nearly all set.

3. For the last step, turn up the oven to 200c/ 180 fan. Peel back the foil and brush the last of the marinade over the ribs and cook for a further 10- 15 minutes until sticky and unctuous. Use a knife to separate the ribs and grab a stack of napkins (you’ll need them!); serve the ribs immediately.

Chinese takeaway style ribs- let’s face it, there’s no elegant way to eat these but dive in!

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Asian spicy braised pork belly

Who can resist the tenderness of pork belly, the umami flavour of Asian ingredients and the punch of chilli in a recipe? Certainly not me! This sticky braised pork belly takes inspiration from Asia to give a straightforward meal idea that everyone can achieve.

This recipe cannot necessarily be pinned down to one specific Asian cuisine but I have mixed and matched my favourite ingredients to give the perfect balance of flavour. I have used gochujang which is a spicy paste made from fermented soya beans. You can buy this online at http://www.souschef.co.uk or find it at your local Asian supermarkets if you have one.

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Ingredients- serves 2-3 
300g lean pork belly
2 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons sake or shaoxing wine
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon gochujang (Korean chilli paste)
450ml water

1.To begin, cut the pork belly into inch sized pieces. Bring a pan of water to the boil and blanch the pork belly chunks for 2 minutes to draw out any impurities before removing from the pan with a slotted spoon and setting aside.

2. Heat a wok over a low to medium heat and add in the oil and sugar. Cook until the sugar is melting before adding the pork chunks. Cook until the pork is beginning to turn golden- remember to brown off on each side of the pork chunks for an even colour and flavour.

3. At this stage, lower the temperature of the wok back to low and add in both kinds of soy sauce, the sake or shaoxing wine (whichever you are using) and water. Cover the wok with a lid and simmer the pork for approximately 1 hour 30 minutes to 1 hour 45 minutes until the pork belly is meltingly tender. Remember to check the pork from time to time during the cooking process and add a splash more water if it starting to stick to the pan or becoming too dry. If, at the end of the cooking, you have excess sauce then simply remove the lid of the wok, increase the heat slightly and reduce so it ends up being a glossy, sticky glaze over the pork and that’s all there is to it! Serve with rice and Asian greens if you like and dig in!

Asian inspired sticky braised pork belly- a recipe you will come back to time and time again!

 

 

Smoky Hungarian pork goulash

In honour of an upcoming trip to Budapest I thought it was only right to get into the spirit of things with a warming, spicy goulash. I have used pork here but you can use beef if you prefer. Much like a lot of traditional recipes, there is no definitive goulash recipe but this is my take on it. I slow cooked this in the oven for 3 hours but you could do it in a slow cooker if you like.

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Ingredients- serves 4

400-500g diced pork
1 large onion- chopped
2 garlic cloves- finely chopped or crushed
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp hot paprika
1 tsp caraway seeds
Pinch of all spice
Pinch cinnamon
150g button mushrooms- halved
1 tbsp tomato puree
2 tins of chopped tomatoes (use 1 if using a slow cooker)
400ml chicken stock
1 dried ancho chilli

1. Preheat the oven to 160c/ 140fan while you get cracking on the pork. Take a large casserole pan and heat a glug of oil over a medium to high heat. When the oil is hot, brown off the pork pieces a few at a time until sealed off and golden. Remove from the pan and set aside.

2. In the same pan, cook off the onion and garlic until softening. Next up goes the spices. I used a combination of smoked and hot paprika but you can adjust these to taste if you want a bit more heat. Goulash comes in a range of heats so play around! Cook the spices for a minute before adding the tomato puree for an additional minute. I also added a dried ancho chilli to give a fruity, smoked flavour which worked perfectly alongside the blend of spices.

3. Add the pork back into the pan along with the mushroom, chopped tomatoes and stock. Bring to a gentle boil before popping in the oven for 3 hours. The pork is ready when it is tender and falls apart under gentle pressure.

Serve with soured cream, sauerkraut and rice or potatoes.

A Hungarian classic that will leave everyone Hungary for more!

Pork cheek chilli

Time for another pork cheek recipe I feel! This time I have used it in a chilli which has a delicate balance between smoky and spicy flavours and the tender pork. Yet again, it’s all about low and slow cooking so don’t rush this!

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Ingredients- serves 4
4 pork cheeks- trimmed and cut into inch pieces
1 large onion- chopped
2 garlic cloves- crushed
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 dried ancho chillies
2-3 dried arbol chillies
1 tin of kidney beans
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
600ml chicken or vegetable stock
1 tbsp treacle

1. Start by preheating the oven to 160c/ 140 fan. Take a glug of oil in a large heavy casserole pan and brown off the pork cheeks for a few minutes before setting aside. Next up, fry the onion and garlic together until softened and about to turn golden.

2. Combine the coriander, cumin, oregano, cayenne and paprika and add to the onions. Cook together for a couple of minutes before returning the pork to the pan and coating it in the spice mix. At the stage I prick the dried chillies and pop them in the pan too. The ancho chillies bring smokiness to the chilli alongside the paprika and the arbol give it a kick! Add the kidney beans, making sure they too are well coated, before the tomaotes and stock goes in. I tend to put half of the stock in at this stage and reserve the rest for during cooking if it needs a bit of extra moisture. In goes the treacle to add a great depth of flavour alongside the savoury chillies.

3. Bring the chilli to the boil on the hob before placing in the oven for 2 1/2- 3 hours until the cheeks are tender and the sauce is thick and unctuous. Check the pork every now and again as it cooks and add extra stock if needed. Finish with some roughly chopped coriander leaves, serve with rice and dig right in!

A cheeky chilli fit for every table!

Indonesian style stir fried rice

Perk up your tastebuds with this flavoursome rice recipe. It uses a crunchy combination of vegetables as well as succulent prawns and pork which go well with Indonesian spice. Ketjap manis features in this recipe to give a further tang- this can now be found in supermarkets and is a thicker, spiced version of soya sauce.

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Ingredients- serves 4
250g long grain rice- precooked as per pack instructions
1 red chilli- finely chopped
1 banana shallot- finely chopped
2 garlic cloves- finely chopped
3cm piece of fresh ginger- finely chopped
50g sugar snap peas- sliced thinly longways
1 large carrot- grated
200g raw king prawns- deveined
200g pork loin or similar- cut into bite size pieces
3 tbsp ketjap manis
Handful of fresh coriander- chopped

1. Get a large wok and place a glug of vegetable or groundnut oil and heat. When the oil is hot, add in the chilli, shallot, garlic and ginger and cook for a minute. Next in goes the sugar snap pea slices and carrot for a further minute.

2. Pop in the pork and prawns for a two minutes before stirring the precooked rice in well to combine everything. Leave on the heat as you add the ketjap manis and keep it cooking. Taste as you go and adjust the amount of ketjap manis if needed. I also made a wafer thin omelette which I then thinly sliced and stirred through the rice. When the prawns and pork are cooked through finish with a final flourish of fresh coriander and serve.

A tasty stir fried rice- perfect to brighten up a dull January day!

Ultimate slow cooked pork cheek ragu

Pork cheek is an inexpensive and underused cut of meat which really should be on our menus more often. When cooked low and slow the meat simply melts in your mouth. This ragu is rich and intense and is sure to please.

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Ingredients- serves 2-3
4 pork cheeks- trimmed and cut into inch chunks
1 tbsp oil
1 onion- chopped
1 garlic clove- crushed or finely chopped
1 celery stick- finely chopped
1 small carrot- finely chopped
1 tbsp tomato puree
2-3 anchovy fillets
60ml red wine
200ml beef stock
400ml chopped tinned tomatoes
2 bay leaves
3 sprigs of thyme
Salt and pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 140c/120 fan. Start by heating the oil over a medium/high heat and brown off the pork chunks. Make sure you brown them well all over to make a rich, dark ragu. When ready, remove from the pan and set aside.

2. Next up goes the onion to soften for a couple of minutes before adding the garlic, celery and carrot for another couple of minutes. Stir through the tomato puree and anchovy fillets and make sure the mix is well coated. Pop in the wine and cook until the wine has reduced by half.

3. Add in the stock and tomatoes as well as the bay and thyme. In go the pork cheeks and bring the sauce up to a gentle boil before popping in the preheated oven for 2 1/2- 3 hours. When the ragu is ready the pork cheeks should feel soft to the touch. Serve with pasta, such as rigatoni, tortiglioni, pappardelle, or polenta and dive straight in!

Indulgent, rich pork cheek ragu- worth the time to discover a new cut!