Photo by: Jonathan Lovekin

Bourbon-glazed spare ribs with smoked corn salad

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1kg pork baby back ribs, cut into 12 equal small racks (of 2 or 3 ribs per rack)
80g coarse sea salt
4cm piece of ginger, peeled and julienned (35g)
1 medium onion, roughly chopped (120g)
6 garlic cloves, crushed
8 whole star anise
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp black peppercorns
1.5 litres chicken stock
100ml Shaoxing rice wine
100ml rice vinegar
Smoked corn salad
4 large corn cobs, with husks (1kg) or without (900g)
15g sprigs of lemon thyme
3 tbsp lime juice
2 tsp maple syrup
60ml olive oil
1 green chilli, de-seeded and thinly sliced
20g coriander leaves
20g mint leaves
20g parsley leaves
4 spring onions, thinly sliced (45g)
coarse sea salt

Glaze:
3 banana shallots, thinly sliced (130g)
350ml bourbon
60ml maple syrup
2 tsp Szechuan peppercorns
11/2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp sesame oil
3 tbsp tomato ketchup
11/2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 dried red chillies
2 garlic cloves, lightly crushed

In recipes like this, where only half the stock reduction is called for, the remainder can be frozen and used as the base for another sauce or soup, or added to the braising liquid for a dish such as the Pig’s cheeks (see page 198 and left). The glaze here is also great for marinating other things: barbecued chicken wings, for example, or cubes of tuna or tofu before they’re chargrilled.


Beyond a large saucepan or wok, a roll of tin foil and a good ventilator (or open window), you don’t need any special equipment to smoke food at home. It’s not for everyone, though, so skip this stage if you like. The ribs also work well alongside a salad where the corn kernels are just blanched for a minute and refreshed, before being mixed with the remaining salad ingredients.


If you do make the smoked corn salad, though, it can be used as a side for all sorts of other dishes: some simply grilled tiger prawns and slices of pancetta, for example. It’s also delicious just by itself.


If your cob comes with the husks already removed, you can use rice for smoking the kernals instead. Line the base of your pan or wok with a big sheet of tin foil and spread 200g of uncooked rice (along with the lemon thyme) on top. The initial cooking time, if you do this, will need to be reduced from 5 to 3 minutes. Precise timings for the smoking are important here: just a minute too long and the smoky flavour becomes far too dominant.


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Method

1 Place the ribs in a large bowl with the salt. Rub it all over the meat and set aside for an hour.
2 Rinse the ribs well under cold water, gently rubbing off all the salt, and pat dry. Put them into a large saucepan, for which you have a lid, and add the ginger, onion, garlic, star anise, cinnamon and peppercorns. Pour over the stock, along with the cooking wine and rice vinegar. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer gently, covered, for an hour.
3 Lift out the pork and set it aside. If you are not serving them in the next couple of hours, let the ribs cool and store them in the fridge, covered, until ready to use. If you do this, make sure you bring them back to room temperature before you coat them in the glaze before serving.
4 Strain the liquid, discarding the onion, garlic and spices, and return it to the pan. Place on a high heat and cook for 30–35 minutes, until the liquid has reduced to just 200ml. Remove from the heat and set aside. Chill if you are not serving the ribs in the next 2 hours.
5 Remove the husks from the corn and use them to line the base of a large saucepan or wok which is deep enough to fit a colander or metal steaming basket inside, and for which you have a lid. Add the sprigs of thyme and place the pan on a high heat.
Once the husks and thyme begin to smoke, after about 6 minutes, place the colander in the pan and place the corn cobs inside it. Use a lid to seal the pan – then smoke for 5 minutes (or 3, if you are using rice in the base of the pan; see introduction). Remove from the heat and set aside, covered, for another 5 minutes. Remove the lid and set aside to cool.
6 Stand each corn cob on a chopping board and use a large sharp knife to shave off rows of kernels, cutting from top to bottom. Cut deep enough into the cob so that some of the kernels remain in clusters: this isn’t essential, it just looks good. Set the corn kernels aside and discard the cobs.
7 About 45 minutes before you are ready to serve, place all the ingredients for the glaze, along with 100ml of the stock reduction, in a large pan. Bring to the boil, then simmer on a medium-high heat for 20–25 minutes, until the liquid has reduced to about 200ml and has the consistency of syrup. Return the pork ribs to the sauce and stir gently so they all get coated. Cook for about 7 more minutes on a medium heat, stirring once or twice, until the ribs are warmed through and sticky.
8 Just before serving, finish the salad by placing the lime juice, maple syrup, olive oil and chilli in a large bowl with 1 teaspoon of salt. Whisk to combine, then add the corn kernels, herbs and spring onion and mix together. Place two small racks of ribs on each plate – one leaning against the other – and serve with the corn salad alongside.

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