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.
Two of our main reasons for starting this blog were to find ways to challenge ourselves, and to cook with ingredients we haven’t used before. This week’s recipe certainly achieved those two goals! We were both a little scared of cooking octopus, but it turned out to be not very difficult and the results were delicious. This would be a great dinner party dish as you can do almost all of the work in advance and leave the octopus to marinate in the fridge overnight. This recipe is adapted from Ottolenghi and Scully’s Nopi cookbook, and like all of Ottolenghi’s recipes, the flavours of each component is perfect. We’ve never found kale particularly tasty, but this stir-fried kale is delicious and would work well as a side dish to any of your favourite mains. If the octopus challenge is too much for you, the salsa and kale would also work well with some fried fish fillets.
We took Ottolenghi’s advice and bought a frozen octopus, which we de-frosted before cooking. This helps to tenderise the meat and prevent it becoming chewy. If you buy a fresh octopus you could tenderise it by bashing it with a rolling pin, or by blanching the tentacles a few times in boiling water. We watched some helpful youtube videos on preparing the octopus (we recommend the videos from Sydney Fish Market for any kind of seafood preparation), as we were unsure if ours had been prepared or not. In the end all we had to do was cut out the eyes and we were ready to start cooking.
- 1 large frozen octopus, with head and tentacles (about 1.5kg)
- 1 small celery stick, roughly chopped
- 1 small fennel, trimmed and stalk removed, roughly chopped. Reserve the fronds for garnishing.
- 1 small leek, trimmed and sliced
- 2 thyme sprigs
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 500ml white wine
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp harissa
- ½ tsp rose water
- 1 ½ Tbsp lemon juice
- sea salt
- 50g golden raisins
- 1 small red onion, finely diced (110g)
- 100g pitted kalamata olives, finely sliced into circles
- 1 ½ Tbsp sherry vinegar
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 10g mint leaves
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 10g unsalted butter
- 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
- 300g kale, stalks removed and discarded, roughly chopped
- 80ml vegetable stock
- 80ml white wine
- If you need to clean the octopus, cut the head from the body just below the eyes and discard the head. Remove the beak from the top of the tentacles by turning the tentacles inside out and pushing the beak through. Peel and discard any excess skin, leaving the tentacles intact and still held together at the top.
- Put the celery, fennel, leeks, thyme, bay leaves, peppercorns, coriander seeds, white wine and 1 teaspoon of salt into a large deep pot. Add 1.2 litres of water, bring to the boil, then reduce to a medium low heat. Using a pair of tongs, plunge the whole octopus into the hot water for about 5 seconds. Lift out, then repeat this process twice more. You will see the tentacles beginning to curl up with each plunge. This will also prevent the skin from peeling during cooking. Return the octopus to the water and submerge completely. Cover with a cartouche (a round of baking paper the same size as the pot) and cover with a large plate to ensure the octopus remains submerged. Simmer over a medium heat for 40 to 50 minutes, until the octopus is cooked through. The cooking time will vary depending on the size of the octopus, you will know it is cooked when the flesh is tender but retains a little bite.
- Remove the octopus from the pot. Set it aside to cool and then transfer to the fridge for an hour or so, until chilled. You should now have about 650g of cooked octopus. Discard the stock and vegetables.
- Slice the octopus, leaving the tentacles untouched and cutting into the body to make 2cm thick slices. Place the octopus in a bowl with the olive oil, harissa and rose water. Stir to coat everything well, then refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.
- To make the salsa: place the raisins in a saucepan with 80ml of water. Bring to the boil, then remove from the heat and set aside for 1 hour. Drain any remaining liquid and place the raisins in a bowl with the rest of the salsa ingredients, except the mint. Add a grind of black pepper, mix well and set aside until ready to serve.
- To cook the kale: add the olive oil and butter to a frypan and place on a medium high heat. Once hot, add the garlic and cook until just brown, stirring constantly. Add the kale and keep stirring while you add the stock and wine. Add ½ teaspoon of salt and some black pepper to taste. Cooke for 3-4 minutes, until the kale has wilted. Drain the kale, shaking it in a colander to dry. Keep warm until ready to serve.
- Just before serving, place a griddle or frying pan over a high heat. Toss the octopus in the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Once the griddle is smoking hot, add the octopus and grill for 1-2 minutes, turning it over halfway through. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan by working in batches if necessary. Once the octopus is charred and warmed through, transfer to a bowl and toss immediately in the lemon juice.
- Shred the mint and stir it through the salsa.
- To plate: place some of the kale in a small circle on each plate. Add two small circles of the salsa to each plate. Gently place a piece of octopus over each of the little piles of kale and salsa you have created. Garnish with the reserved fennel fronds and some halved Kalamata olives (optional).