One of our favourite cookbook authors is Anna Jones, whose vegetarian recipes are imaginative, tasty and versatile. We have cooked this recipe a few times, and it’s perfect for an easy weeknight dinner, or a relaxed dinner with friends. We love the way corn is used three ways in this recipe; the spiced popcorn, caramelised corn salsa and corn tortillas. The cayenne pepper adds a nice warm glow to the dish without overpowering the flavours, and the crunch factor of the popcorn makes these tacos extra special. It’s also a fun novelty to serve and always impresses our friends, eve though it’s so easy to make.
We have adapted this recipe from Anna Jones’ “A Modern Way To Eat”. It serves 2 hungry people as a main, or 4 people if you’re serving some appetisers as well.
- olive oil
- 3 Tbsp popcorn kernels
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 Tbsp honey
Caramelised Corn Salsa:
- 4 corn on the cob
- olive oil
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- grated zest and juice of 1 lime
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 red or green chilli, finely chopped
- 100ml natural yoghurt
- 2 avocados
- juice of ½ a lime
- 8 small corn or wheat tortillas, or 4 large tortillas
- 100g feta cheese, drained and crumbled
- a bunch of coriander, chopped
- For the popcorn, place a pan on low heat and add a little oil and the popcorn kernels. Put the lid on and shake the pan every now and then to stop the kernels from burning. After a few minutes, the corn will start to pop. Continue shaking the pan every minute or so until the popping stops. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool while you mix together the popcorn spices and honey in a small pan. Warm and mix over a low heat. Toss the honey mixture with the popcorn until it is well coated. Set aside.
- Cut the kernels from the corn cobs. Heat a little oil in a frying pan, and fry the kernels over a high heat until they become charred and caramelised. Add the salt and pepper, lime zest and juice, and the cayenne and chilli. Remove from the heat and stir in a tablespoon of the yoghurt. Set aside, covering with aluminium foil to keep the corn warm.
- Remove the flesh from the avocados and place in a small bowl. Squeeze over the lime juice and mash together.
- Warm your tortillas in a dry frying pan.
- To serve, fill each tortilla with some avocado, corn kernels and a dollop of yoghurt. Top with some crumbled feta, a pinch of coriander and a scattering of popcorn. Fold up in your hand and enjoy!
This week we continued to draw inspiration from Yotam Ottolenghi & Ramael Scully’s Nopi cookbook. As always, we were inspired by the flavours these chefs use, and this recipe contained a new technique for us, smoking the corn. This was surprisingly easy, there was no fancy equipment required. Simply place the corn cobs in a colander or steaming basket (we used a bamboo steaming basket) inside a large pot sealed with a lid. The smoke comes from burning the husks of the corn in the base of the pot. If you struggle to find corn with the husks still attached, you could use rice instead. Just line the base of the pan with aluminium foil and spread 200g of uncooked rice across the base. If you do this, the cooking time will need to be reduced from 5 minutes to 3 minutes. The cooking times for smoking need to be precise: cook for too long and the smoky flavour can become overpowering.
The real star of this dish is the ribs though, be prepared to get messy and enjoy the delicious glaze and tender pork ribs!
Serves six people.
- 1kg pork spare ribs, cut into 12 equal small racks of 2 or 3 ribs per rack.
- 80g coarse sea salt
- 35g ginger, peeled and julienned
- 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
- 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
- 15g lemon thyme sprigs
- 3 Tbsp lime juice
- 2 tsp maple syrup
- 60ml olive oil
- 1 green chilli, deseeded and thinly sliced
- 1 tsp coarse sea salt
- 20g coriander leaves
- 20g mint leaves
- 20g parsley leaves
- 2 spring onions, white part only, thinly sliced
- 130g shallots, thinly sliced
- 350ml bourbon
- 60ml maple syrup
- 2 tsp Szechuan peppercorns
- 1 ½ Tbsp lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp sesame oil
- 3 Tbsp tomato sauce/ketchup
- 1 ½ Tbsp rice vinegar
- 2 dried red chillies
- 2 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
- Place the ribs in a large bowl with the salt. Rub the ribs all over with the salt and set aside for an hour.
- Rinse the salt from the ribs under cold water, then pat dry. Put the ribs 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, Shaoxing wine and rice vinegar. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for an hour.
- Remove the pork and set aside. Strain the liquid, discarding the solids and return to the pan. Place on a high heat and reduce the liquid to 200ml. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- 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 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 begin to smoke, place the the corn cobs inside the colander or steaming basket, and place this inside the pan. Seal the pan with a lid and smoke for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside, still covered, for another 5 minutes. Remove the lid and set aside to cool.
- Stand each corn cob on a cutting board and use a large knife to shave the corn kernels from the cob. Make sure you cut deeply enough that some of the kernels remain in clusters. Set the corn kernels aside and discard the cobs.
- About 45 minutes before you are ready to serve, place all of the ingredients for the glaze, along with 100ml of the stock reduction in a large pan. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a medium-high heat and simmer until the liquid has reduced to 200ml and has the consistency of a syrup, about 20 minutes. Return the pork ribs to the sauce and stir gently so they are coated in the syrup. Cook for about 7 minutes more, until the ribs are warmed through and sticky.
- Just before serving, prepare the salad in a large bowl by whisking together the lime juice, maple syrup, olive oil, chilli and salt. Add the corn kernels, herbs and spring onion and mix well.
- To serve, on each plate lean two small racks of ribs against each other and serve with the salad alongside. Garnish with a few sprigs of lemon thyme, if you like.