How to master finger food
Sticky pork ribs.
This is food that begs to be picked up by hand and devoured. Just add good company – and plenty of napkins.
STICKY PORK RIBS
The secret to this dish is to get the ribs really well caramelised before you add any of the other ingredients. As they braise in the oven, all that colour will turn into the most amazing flavour. The glaze is packed full of vibrant, citrusy flavours, with the sweetness of the honey counteracting the spices.
2kg pork ribs, separated
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
olive oil, for frying
6-8 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
10cm piece ginger, peeled and sliced
2-4 tsp dried chilli flakes, to taste
8 whole star anise
2 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
8 tbsp honey
300ml soy sauce
4-5 tbsp rice vinegar
600ml Shaoxing rice wine or medium-dry sherry
10 spring onions, trimmed and sliced
800ml chicken stock
Preheat oven to 180°C. Season the ribs with salt and pepper, pushing the seasoning into the meat. Heat a roasting tray on the stove top with a little olive oil and brown the ribs for 5-10 minutes until they are coloured on all sides. Add the garlic, ginger, chilli flakes, star anise, Sichuan peppercorns and honey and continue to cook over the heat for 2 minutes until the honey begins to caramelise. Add the soy sauce, rice vinegar and Shaoxing wine and bring to the boil, simmering for 1 minute. Taste and adjust the flavours, adding a little extra vinegar if necessary.
Add the spring onions and stock and bring to the boil. Place in the preheated oven and cook for 1 hour until tender, turning the ribs halfway through the cooking time. Remove the pan from the oven and place back on the stove top. Heat the marinade and reduce for 8-10 minutes until the sauce is thick and syrupy. Turn the ribs in the sauce to coat them well, then serve.
GRILLED CORN WITH CHIPOTLE CHILLI BUTTER
In Mexico, you'll find street vendors selling grilled sweetcorn on every corner.
olive oil, for frying
4 whole corn on the cob, husks removed
80g butter, softened
1-2 dried chipotle chillies, rehydrated and finely chopped
2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tbsp crumbled Lancashire cheese or a crumbly aged cheddar
lime wedges, to serve
Heat a large, heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat. Add a little oil and gently cook the cobs in the pan for about 5 minutes until coloured and lightly charred all over. Add 3-4 tbsp of water to the pan and continue to cook over a medium heat for about 8 minutes until the liquid has evaporated and the corn is cooked through (turn down the heat if it starts to colour too much).
Meanwhile, mix together the butter, chillies, coriander and a little seasoning. Once the corn is cooked, remove and cover with knobs of the chipotle butter, allowing it to melt over the corn. Sprinkle the cheese over the cobs and serve with wedges of lime.
As the name suggests, blondies are a white chocolate version of brownies. I find them a bit more subtle in flavour.
230g butter, plus extra for greasing
340g dark brown sugar
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs, lightly beaten
280g plain flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
240g white chocolate, chopped into small chunks
4 tbsp dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 180°C. Lightly butter a 23cm square cake tin and line with greaseproof paper. Melt the butter in a saucepan and whisk in the sugar and salt. (A good whisk now will make the mixture slightly lighter and fluffier.) Add the vanilla extract and whisk again. Remove from the heat.
Add the eggs to the butter mixture and stir well. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder into a large bowl, then whisk in the egg and butter mixture a little at a time. It's important to do this in stages so that you don't get any lumps.
Leave the mixture to cool slightly, then fold in the white chocolate chunks and the cranberries. (If the mixture is too hot, the chocolate will melt.) Spoon into the prepared cake tin and spread out evenly. Bake for 35-40 minutes until the outer edges are firm and the middle still a little soft.
Leave to cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes, then cut into squares before serving. Once cooled, the blondies will keep in an airtight container for up to a week.
Photography by Anders Schønnemann. Recipes from Gordon Ramsay's Ultimate Cookery Course by Gordon Ramsay (Hodder & Stoughton, $40).