PORK RIBS BROTH WITH CORN & DAIKON
Sometimes living in a city with restricted Asian ingredients can mean it forces you to use what's available at your local supermarket. This dish is exactly that. It takes only a couple of hours to get this rich yet subtle porky broth, rendered from the fat and cartilage that is so in abundance on a rib cut. Daikon layers another kind of sweetness to the sweetcorn that is so intense yet so, so....dam porky-good.
Did I mention it's simple? All you'll need is:
[ serves 2 ]
500gm Pork Ribs
1 medium size Daikon
2 Fresh Corn Cobs
(words on vacuum packed corn - I wouldn't use it unless it's prescribed by the doctor because my left toe is falling off)
1.5 tsp of the best Salt you can find
Taiwanese sticky soya sauce for dipping and drizzling (regular Japanese Soya Sauce can also work)
This step in preparing a bone broth is quite common in Chinese cooking. Basically we extract the impurities from the bones by covering the meat and bone in cold water and bring it to boil for 10 minutes. Often you'll see light brown foam starting to form at the surface. Drain away the water and start a fresh bath with the pork ribs in cold water, and in a bigger pot anticipating the corn and daikon.
While the purification boil is happening, peel the daikon and cut them into bite sized chunks. Daikon keeps it's form quite well after long boils. Depending on the variety, some can have quite thick skins especially if it's a bit on the old side. You want to peel that netty looking layer off to get to the delicate textured part.
Chopping corn cobs can get messy, and ugly if you're not careful with the knife. Use a heavy knife to help you along, you want to section them into small rings so you can pick one up with chopsticks - as not to get your hands dirty of course - about four to five kernels across is a good size. Wedge your blade in the position you want to chop down on, bring the cob up with the knife and give it a bit of a velocity as you bring both down to the chopping board. The bottom kernels might be a little smashed, but hey, that'll just add to the rich flavour of the broth.
If the ribs starts to boil - while you're trying not the cut your thumb off - its ok. Just dial down the heat and let it simmer way.
Whenever the corn and daikon are prepared, just add them into the pot and make sure they are well covered with water, to the point where they are happily swimming in their bath of porkyness.
Bring to boil then dial down again to simmer with the lid on for about 2 hours. You'll start to smell the rich flavours as the bones release all that intense marrow and the fat is rendered in the broth.
Taste the unsalted broth first for it's natural sweetness before adding salt to season. And for you outrageous types, even half a teaspoon of white pepper is a great option here if you're into that kind of kink.
Remove the ribs from the broth and discard all bones. Here is where it gets interesting-
"To (eat) cartilage or not to (eat) cartilage? That is the question."
I love it. But I'm pretty sure it's an Asian thang.
Texture plays a huge part in Chinese cuisine. Duck oesophagus as a hotpot item for example, was a new adventure I was privy to in Beijing for the first time a few years ago. It tastes of nothing, but is eaten purely for the pleasure of its texture. Same can be said for Jellyfish, and pig's ears - both dear to my heart. But that's another story for another bed time.
To continue...chop up the meat into chopstick friendly pieces and drizzle over with sticky soya sauce. Ladle the broth together with corn and daikon into a side bowl and enjoy!
Wait. Hold it. I have a need to talk about that bit - how to enjoy it - bit.
It's all gotta dance in your mouth to a certain sequence. A little step to the back, a little to the side, a step to the front and Pas de Bourree. Translating to: first a slice of the meat dipped slightly in sauce. Then a spoon full of broth to wash the saltiness down. A cube of daikon that melts in your mouth to cleanse the pallet. Rise & Repeat. Leaving the corn either at the end or in the middle for a change of texture and eye-squirting fun.
Ok. NOW throw your hands in the air and enjoy the broth.