Asian-inspired Peanut Butter & Hoisin Ribs


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Hello again from sunny Singapore! This weekend I was inspired to do something a little more akin to what the name of this blog suggests. Big Green ASIAN Egg… So I looked for a recipe to try out that was anything but standard.

Now you have to understand that our family are “rib connoisseurs” and when I suggest something new, eyebrows are raised as if to say, “if it isn’t broken, why fix it?”  That’s the fun in trying something new.

So for the brave, here’s an Asian inspired recipe that will surely please your friends when you suggest going off topic!

What you’ll need:

  • 2 racks of St Louis cut pork ribs – membrane removed
  • 3/4 cups hoisin sauce
  • 1/2 cup of crunchy peanut butter (we used Skippy)
  • 1/2 plum sauce
  • 1/4 cup oyster sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup dark soy sauce (the really thick kind!)
  • 2 tbsp dark sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp Thai chili sauce
  • 5 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 2 tbsp of finely minced old ginger

Combine by whisking the above ingredients, except for the ribs of course, in a medium sized glass bowl. You don’t want a reactive metal or a white plastic bowl as it will definitely stain.

Once done, reserve about 3 or 4 heaping spoons of the marinade for later. Leave it covered at room temperature. Now take your ribs, slice each rack in half and place them into a double bagged set of zip-top bags. You need to as the ribs are likely to punch a hole through the plastic. Having a second layer is just good insurance.

Spoon the thick, dark, tasty mixture into the bag and make sure you coats all sides of the ribs. Give it a good massage and then place the bags into a bowl and into the fridge. Normally I’d leave it overnight but alas I only had an hour before I had to put them on the grill. Still tasted amazing despite the hour long marination.

Set up your grill for indirect heat and place a water pan under the grid. This helps with catching the drippings but also provides a humid environment, leaving your ribs incredibly moist and juicy.

I used a handful of plum wood chips for this recipe. You can use anything you like but go easy on the smoke.

Remove the ribs from the bag and place them on a raised grill rack. All four will fit nicely. Set your ambient temperature to 225F (107C), place the ribs over the drip pan and close the lid. You’ll let these smoke for 2 hours.

Once done, carefully take the grill rack off the grid and wrap each rib section in a double layer of aluminium foil. I added a bit of apple juice to each packet for extra moisture during this stage. Now place the packets back onto the rack and back on the grid. Again, keeping a temperature of 225F (107C), close the lid and let them steep for 1 hour.

When the timer pings, remove the rack and carefully open each of the packets and place the ribs onto a place. Careful here as there’s a lot of steam and juices that will remain in the packet. Save that for basting! It’s ok to leave the ribs sitting uncovered for a while while you fire up the grill to SUPER HOT!

Using my trusty grill grates, I set the internal temperature up to about 500F (260C) for the final stage. When you’re ready, place the ribs meat side up onto the scorching hot grates. Keep your dome open during this stage as you don’t want the ribs to burn. Give the meaty side a baste with the marinade you set aside earlier. Keep flipping the ribs until you get a really nice char on both sides. Again, careful not to burn the sauce!

We served the ribs up with a radish, beetroot, carrot miso slaw and grilled corn with lime, mint, parmesan cheese.

The result was amazing! I got dinged on overall points because Heather ended up taking a fatty chunk of ribs. She’s not a fan of fatty ribs and neither should you! Not every rack of ribs will be award winning. Personally, I loved these ribs. They were juicy and super messy to eat. Great fun if you just don’t care about making a lip smacking mess!

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Overall Heather Rating: 8.5/10

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Veggie Burgers – Who Knew?


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Who knew is right! Anyone who knows us is well aware that vegetarian dishes aren’t really our forte. I must admit I do love grilled/smoked meat but I wanted to try something challenging this past weekend so I found a great recipe for purely vegetarian burgers.

The beauty of this recipe is that it’s so simple its not funny. Its also a great dish to serve at your next backyard get-together for your friends and family that are more inclined to vegetarianism.

To serve 8 people, here’s what you’ll need insofar as ingredients go:

For your patties:

  • 1 cup of cooked and chilled brown rice
  • 2 (15 oz) cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup of your favourite bbq sauce – I used my KC sauce
  • 1/2 cup of diced portobello mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup of quick cook oats
  • 4 tbsp of minced roasted beetroot – cool before you mince 
  • 4 tbsp of finely chopped soltanas
  • 2 tbsp of minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp of grated yellow onion
  • 2 tsp of chili powder
  • 2 tsp of smoked paprika (an awesome addition!)
  • 2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

For your glaze:

  • 4 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 2 tbsp molasses

The trick to making this super easy recipe is getting ready ahead of time. The term is called “mise en place” – click here for more info.

Once you’ve got all your ingredients ready, here’s what you’ll do. Using a medium sized bowl, simply mix everything for the patties in the order written above. Make sure you really squish the “mince” well to incorporate everything. It should look and feel like beef mince when you’re done. Once finished, pop the mixture into the fridge for about 15 minutes to allow it to set.

In the meantime, go make your glaze. Simply mix all three ingredients together and set it aside and leave it at room temperature.

When you’re ready to make your patties, measure out a ball of “v-meat” that’s about 100-125 g. I made my patties 200 g each and they were HUGE! Best to dial it back a smidge and make more patties. They don’t shrink at all (like meat does) so no need to make them too big. Line your patties up on a cooking sheet lined with grease proof paper.

At this point, put the patties back in the fridge or if you’re ready, get them on the grill!

You should set up your grill for direct heat and aim for an internal grill temperature of 350F (177C). If you have grill grates, use them! They are amazing to use for this recipe and frankly for any recipe that calls for char marks. I through in a few plum wood chips for an added smokiness. Go easy on the smoke though!

Place your patties on the grill and close the dome. After 1.5 minutes gently turn the patties 45 degrees to get a nice diamond shaped char going. At the three minute mark, flip the burgers and repeat. Once you’ve flipped them, brush on the glaze that you made earlier.

After 6-8 minutes your burgers are pretty much done. They’ll be nicely heated through and the glaze will be nice and hot. Make sure you baste both sides of the patties.

If you’re serving with buns, cut them leaving a bit of a hinge. Spread some room temperature butter or olive oil on them and put them on the hot grill for no more than 30 seconds to get a great set of char marks.

We served these burgers up with some lettuce, tomato and all the condiments we’d normally use on beef burgers.

So the result? AMAZING! I never thought in a million years that I’d actually say that! Our 6 year old daughter couldn’t believe these weren’t beef burgers! The soltanas, beetroot and rice really give it a similar texture to beef mince.

As an additional test I took a patty to work the next morning and shared it with some of my vegetarian colleagues. They helped validate the success of these burgers with rave reviews! Thanks Aparna, Vishal and Max!

Check out the process from start to finish with these photos:

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Overall Heather Rating: 10/10 (“for a vegetable!“)

 

 

Smoked Pork Belly Burnt Ends – Bánh Mì


 

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So first and foremost, my apologies for the prolonged absence on this page. In fact, I’m a day short of 1 year since my last post. Don’t judge me. It’s just that I find microblogging on FB is a lot easier and done from the phone. That said though, I woke up early this morning, eager to tell you all about a new recipe we tried yesterday. Pork belly ‘burnt ends’ Bánh Mì. Its a mouthful to say and write but boy what a mouthful of taste when you bite into one of these succulent Vietnamese style sandwiches.

Bánh mì (/ˈbɑːn ˌmiː/[1][2][3][4] or /ˈbæn ˌmiː/;[5][4] Vietnamese pronunciation: [ɓǎɲ mî]) is the Vietnamese word for bread. Bread, or more specifically the baguette, was introduced by the French during the colonial period in Vietnam.[6] The bread most commonly found in Vietnamese cuisine is a single-serving baguette that is usually airier than its Western counterpart, with a thinner crust. Unlike the traditional French baguette, the Vietnamese baguette is made with rice flour along with wheat flour (see rice bread).

In Vietnamese cuisine, bánh mì is typically made into a sandwich known as bánh mì kẹp or bánh mì Sài Gòn, eaten alongside dishes such as bò kho (a beef stew) and phá lấu, or dipped in condensed milk (see Sữa Ông Thọ). In the Western Hemisphere, especially in areas with substantial Vietnamese expatriate communities, the term bánh mì is used as a synecdoche for the sandwich, which is sold in Vietnamese bakeries.

This recipe hit my inbox about a week ago from our good friends over at Amazingribs.com. When I saw it, I said to Heather, this is a MUST DO and a MUST BLOG type of dish. Well, I wasn’t far off!

Here’s what you’ll need to make a simple but killer dish for your family and friends.

The protein:

  • 1.5 kg pork belly, skin removed and sliced into 1.5″ cubes

The rub:

  • 1 teaspoon five spice powder
  • 1 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Quick Pickled Vegetables

  • 1/4 cup unseasoned rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1/2 cup radishes cut into matchsticks
  • 1/2 cup carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

Special sauce:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon soy sauce

The glaze:

  • 1/3 cup high quality honey
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce (pick your favourite one)

The bread and garnish

  • 24″ baguette cut into 6″ lengths
  • 2 thin sliced green jalapeno peppers
  • 1/4 cup cilantro – chopped
  • 6″ of thinly sliced cucumber
  • 1/2 cup shredded cabbage

Start by trimming off all the skin from your pork belly. I got mine at NTUC Fair Price in Boon Lay and it was about $4.90 for a packet of 4-5 slices. Save the skin and fry it up later to make some pork crackling…goes great with a cold beer on a hot day.

Once you’ve taken the skin off, trim the pieces to make 1.5″ cubes, If you’re dealing with a whole belly, take a sharp knife and carefully cube it all up.

Mix the rub together and coat your pork belly cubes liberally. You don’t need to oil them but do get them a bit wet with a bit of water. The rub will stick better. Once coated, place the cubes onto a rack and get them ready for smoking.

Set up your smoker (or grill) for indirect heat at 225F (about 107C). Just before you’re ready to smoke, chuck on about two fist-fulls of wood. I used plumb this time around and it’s subtlety was amazing!

Now place your pork belly onto the smoker and set your timer for an hour. Once it pings, simply rotate the rack and let it smoke for one more hour. In the meantime you can prepare your sauce and put it in the fridge. You can also make the glaze and leave that covered at room temperature.

The quick pickled vegetables are super simple to make and taste amazing with the pork belly burnt ends. Simply julienne the carrot and radish and thinly slice up the red onion. In a medium pan, bring the water, vinegar, salt and sugar to a boil. Once done, take it off the heat and place the vegetables into the pot, cover it and let it steep for 30 minutes. Let it cool and transfer the veg to a bowl and refrigerate.

So, two hours have gone by now. Carefully remove the rack containing all the pork belly cubes and transfer them to a dutch oven or a aluminium tray. I love to use my cast iron gear when I can and I prefer it to wasting alumimium trays. Pour the glaze all over the pork belly cubes and make sure you coat them thoroughly. Give them a good stir. I then put an extra two layers of aluminium foil over the dutch oven followed by the lid. Let that steep for 90 minutes.

So now the pork belly cubes are starting to look more like burnt ends. One last step but it’s a tricky one is to crisp up the cubes. Take the dutch oven off the grill and set up for direct heat but use grill grates if you have them. They are essential when doing work like this because you’ll never lose a piece of belly to the roaring flames below.  Trust me, you want every scrap of pork.

Remove the cubes from the dutch oven but keep all that amazing glaze in there. You’ll drop the cubes back in once they’re crispy. Once you’ve got a hot grill ready, place the cubes on top and keep the dome of your grill open. Move the cubes around for about 15 minutes ensuring you don’t burn them. All that hard work could easily go to waste if you’re not careful here.

Once crispy, put the cubes back into the glaze and give them a final coating. Slice your baguette lengthwise leaving a hinge. Smear the mayo-sauce then load of some shredded cabbage, cucumber slices and the pickled vegetables. Now load up your pork belly burnt ends and sprinkle with chopped cilantro and jalapeno peppers.

Prepare to be amazed! Bite into that sandwich and you’ll experience and explosion of flavour that has no equal. Enjoy this great recipe and please let me know how you get on with it.

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Overall Heather Rating: 11/10