ribsweb

Easy Braised Pork Ribs Recipe

By | Recipes | 6 Comments

There is hardly a cut of pork that suits this style of cooking as well as ribs do. Within 2 hours of cooking, what starts off as tough pork ribs boiling away in a thin soup ends up being a brilliantly tender braise with a thick, sweet sauce. Really, with soy, mirin (sweet cooking sake), garlic and ginger, you can’t go wrong. Start off by browning 1.5 kilos of pork ribs in a heavy cast iron pot. I used leftover lard for the browning and browned the meat in 2 batches. Tip off any rendered fat, add 100 ml of soy sauce (I used gluten-free tamari), 100 ml of mirin, 400ml pork of beef stock, 2 finely chopped cloves of garlic, 5 star anise (optional) and 2 tablespoons of grated ginger. Bring to the boil and then turn down to a gentle simmer and cover for 2.5 hours. You are looking for the pork to be falling from the bone and for the sauce to have thickened. If the pork is still not tender enough and the sauce already looks too thick, add a little water and cook covered until the pork is done. If the opposite happens and the pork is already done while the sauce is too thin, uncover the pot and take the heat up, stirring often until the sauce thickens. Stir the pork to glaze it with the sauce. I ate this dish as is, with no accompaniment, since I rarely eat grains; but for those of you who do, rice would go perfectly well.

sauerkrautsalad

How to get the best out of your sauerkraut

By | Recipes | 10 Comments

Some fantastic news for those of you who are fans of sauerkraut: my experiment with vacuum bag sauerkraut was a success! Forget all about those recipes that call for jars and sauerkraut pressing. Vacuum bag sauerkraut is a set and forget method: shred some cabbage, salt it, put it in a vacuum bag and vacuum seal it. Two or three weeks later, and the kraut is made! And once you do make it, there’s no turning back to store-bought sauerkraut. Let me know if you decide to make sauerkraut and how it turned out.

For many, the flavour of sauerkraut is a bit too much like vinegar and is off-putting. I happen to like vinegar and therefore sauerkraut, but I also like a bit of variety, so I’ve come up with a recipe to turn my sauerkraut into a delicious salad. Drain some sauerkraut and dress it with olive oil, a few drops of sesame seed oil and sprinkle it with isot pepper (or any chili you like) and sesame seeds. This sauerkraut salad is the bomb. I like eating it on its own but it goes brilliantly with roasted meats.

labnagoodliving

Memories are made of this – The Food Blog in the SMH Good Living

By | Interviews and Media | 12 Comments

Below is an article about me and my labna/labneh making that was published in the Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Living last Tuesday, written by the lovely Carli Ratcliff. If you haven’t made your own labna, you must start now. It’s so easy, there’s really no excuse. A nifty trick I recently learned from my good friend Lili from Pikelet and Pie, which was subsequently verified by the wonderful Charlotte from How to Shuck an Oyster, is to incubate the mixture in a thermos. That way, the temperature is always steady and the yoghurt will be a guaranteed success. Of course you can use store-bought yoghurt to make your labna, but making your own is much more fun. I mean, who doesn’t want to father/mother billions of probiotic bacteria? You can read my previous labna post here, and my post on yoghurt here.

 

omani

Omani Tourism Dinner – Photos

By | Events | 5 Comments

Above is a collage of photos from the dinner I planned and executed for Omani Tourism. We had the dinner at the beautiful Embers Mezze Bar in Darlinghurst. My main man was head chef Simon Zalloua – a brilliant Lebanese-Australian chef who trained at Rockpool and who brings much needed discipline, skill and technique to Sydney’s Middle-Eastern scene. I totally encourage you to go try out Simon’s food. It’s contemporary and clever without being pretentious. I included some of Simon’s dishes for the event and they worked perfectly with mine.

From top left:

  • Baba Ghanouj with Green Chili Pistachio Relish and Pomegranates
  • Puy Lentil Salad with Hazelnuts, Roast Pumpkin, Thyme and Isot Pepper
  • Shanklish Sambousek with Preserved Lemon Salsa (Simon’s Recipe)
  • Lentil Salad
  • Scallops
  • Scallop Moghrabieh with Chickpeas and Caraway Jus
  • Spatchcocked Poussin with Shish Tawook Spices (Simon’s Recipe) & Muhammara (my recipe)
  • Chef Simon dishing out the Slow-cooked Lamb Shoulder with Cardamom and Cinnamon Pilaf, topped with Crisp Onions, Barberries and Almonds
  • Embers’ Trifle: Sumac Strawberries, Rose and Lychee Jelly with Peanut Brittle (Simon’s recipe and one hell of a dessert)

 

 

lentil salad with hazelnuts, thyme, preserved lemon and pumpkins

Puy Lentil Salad with Hazelnuts, Preserved Lemons, Thyme and Isot Pepper

By | Recipes | 5 Comments

I’ve been commissioned to organise a Middle-Eastern feast for a cool PR event and this dish is one of the first on the menu. I always attempt to use ingredients that are typical in the Middle East but rarely seen in restaurants. I feel people get a sense of authenticity, despite any contemporary take on the ingredient. This dish, for instance, is not one you would find anywhere in the Middle East. The ingredients are eclectic and not singularly regional. But they work.

This salad is all about balance, freshness and texture. The lentils need to be cooked just after the al dente stage, the pumpkin needs to be creamy, and roasted hazelnuts add crunch and nuttiness. Oven-dried tomatoes are a great alternative to fresh tomatoes: they’re sweet and not overly moist. Preserved lemons and fresh thyme contribute that “je ne sais quoi” element, where the flavour is somewhat fleeting and exotic, only identifiable by an experienced palate. The real kicker here is isot pepper – one of my favourite all time chilis, second only to Maras chili. I went crazy for isot in Turkey and am always well stocked. Find a Turkish shop and buy some. That smoky sweet flavour of isot pepper goes with anything.

Puy Lentil Salad with Hazelnuts, Preserved Lemons, Thyme and Isot Pepper – Recipe

Since this is a salad, quantities and proportions are up to you. Want a bit more kick? Add some more isot pepper. Love preserved lemons? Go crazy!

Mix the following ingredients together:

  • 2 cups puy lentils, boiled until just after al dente. I added a bouquet garni in there but you can omit. Also, I couldn’t find puy lentils, so I bought something labeled “french lentils” which are brown in colour but tastes like puy.
  • 1/2 cup roast pumpkins, cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 cup oven-dried tomatoes – Make your own or use good quality semi-dried tomatoes – coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbsp preserved lemon peel – rinsed and finely chopped
  • A handful or two of roasted hazelnuts, peeled
  • 1 tbsp isot pepper
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • olive oil and salt – to taste
sauerkraut

Homemade Sauerkraut

By | Eating for Health, Recipes | 4 Comments

In effort to further learn how to make specialty foods from scratch, I gave sauerkraut a go around 2 weeks ago. I’ve been eating sauerkraut in serious quantities ever since I switched to a Paleolithic diet. It ticks many boxes – sauerkraut is very low in carbohydrates, its acidity helps when eating copious amounts of butter and meat, and it’s full of beneficial bacteria that are supposed to help with gut flora population and all that. My go-to brand was a German-style sauerkraut from my local supermarket, but then I read somewhere that most, if not all, supermarket sauerkraut are actually pasteurised. In essence, my sauerkraut was dead, killed by heat. The beneficial bacteria I thought I was consuming were no longer there.

That upset me for a while, but then I decided to look on the bright side and that it was a chance to have a go at making it myself. I bought half an organic cabbage from Eveleigh markets and took it home. My experience with fermented food had so far been limited to yoghurt and beer, both of which need the bacteria/yeast to be introduced from an external source. Sauerkraut is somewhat magical: its starter bacteria grow on the cabbage leaves while the cabbage is still in the field. Sauerkraut can be made flavoured by using caraway seeds, juniper berries or the like, but for my first go I decided to stick with plain sauerkraut. I tried the traditional method of fermenting the cabbage in a jar, and I also came up with a different approach and fermented the cabbage in vacuum bags. I’m yet to taste the vacuum bag patch (if that works, I’ll certainly be doing that from now on), but have tucked into the jar and it’s unlike any other sauerkraut I’ve ever tasted. There’s a delicate flavour of vinegar, but overall the flavour is earthy and somehow malty, similar to a beer. It’s delicious and the leaves are still crunchy and crisp. Making sauerkraut is easy and recipes abound on the Internet, so I won’t give detailed instructions. Find a recipe that appeals to you and try it (here’s the one I followed). But at a high level, you simply chop up the cabbage leaves and rub them with salt. Then, you put them in a clean jar, press them down and close the jar. A few weeks later, you have sauerkraut – healthy, living sauerkraut. And you become the god of millions, if not billions, of beneficial bacteria. It might be useful for you to know that my sauerkraut did not develop a bloom or scum like the recipe suggested would happen. I’m not sure if that is due to winter temperatures or anything else. In any case, the recipe worked really well is and is worth following.

Got any tips to share on making your own sauerkraut? Leave a comment below. We’d love to hear from you.