tea smoked ribs

I mentally tucked this recipe away in my head a few weekends ago.  In typical fashion I was flicking through all my books, magazines and Pinterest trying to figure out what I felt like making for dinner.  Flicked past this recipe and thought yum- but not today maybe in a few weeks time.

This recipe is from Neil Perry’s spice temple cook book but I’m sure if you google you could find a similar recipe online. Recipe seemed pretty straightforward- simmer the ribs in aromatics and cool, tea smoke the ribs and then stir fry in a sticky delicious sauce. Simple!

So for the first part of the process I took no photos, and for a good reason.  Water, salt, ginger, garlic, spring onions and the ribs are combined, brought to the boil, simmered for a few minutes and then left to cool in the liquid.  Reason for no photo?  Boiled pork ribs are really ugly- they ain’t pretty.

Let’s move onto something a little more photogenic- making the tea smoking mixture.  This is something I’ve wanted to try for years so I was looking forward to giving it a go.

Making the smoking mix is straightforward- mix brown sugar, jasmine rice (uncooked) and jasmine tea together- done!

The next bit took a while- setting up the smoking station.  I made a wide bowl out of foil, popped it on the bottom of the wok and tipped the smoking mixture in.  Popped a lid on top, turned the heat to high and then patiently waited until the mixture started smoking. Unfortunately I didn’t have a small wire rack that could sit inside the wok so I had to get creative.  

Once the mixture was smoking I balanced the wire rack on top of the wok, assembled the ribs over the smoke mixture and then delicately placed the lid over the top of the ribs.  I had exposed sides all around the edge of the wok which mean I was losing smoke out the sides- so out came the foil and I patched it up.

Ribs smoked for 5 minutes and then you switched off the heat and left it for another few minutes- longer if you wanted them pretty smoky- I found just waiting another 4 minutes was more than enough- they smelt amazing!  However even with the range hood fan cranked up the house was a little smoky- just a warning!

Here’s what the smoking mixture looked like afterwards- charry around the edges and it had solidified- I think that the sugar had probably melted and glued everything together!

Last step- make the caramel and stir fry the ribs in it.  Stir fried garlic and ginger, stirred in sugar and waited until it became a deep caramel colour.  Stir in black vinegar, dark soy sauce and a small amount of chicken stock and cook until slightly thickened.  Add the ribs and continue to stir (this is hard with ribs, so in my case stirring ribs was more like picking up and moving them in the wok with some tongs, less chance of them going overboard!) Cook until the mixture coats the ribs and looks lovely and glossy.

Action shot- look at the caramel bubbling up at the sides.

Pile onto a platter, sprinkle with sesame oil and sesame seeds.  Get plenty of napkins ready because this is messy but worthwhile work- also helps if you have a spare bowl to toss the bones into.

These were really good- the smoke flavour was really pronounced and the sticky soy vinegar sauce was so good.  Only thing next time might be boiling the ribs for a little less time- only criticism was that these were a little dry but that didn’t stop us from hoovering them down!

Definitely want to try tea smoking again but I think I need to sort out a better arrangement for next time! Also wishing I had more ribs now instead of the dishes to do….

Ah well – have you tea smoked anything?  Let me know!