finger lickin’ good: pork ribs with aniseed and garlic


oh dear, it seems that i’m going to have to write about another dish that has shown me that pork is not the bland and tasteless meat that i have previously accused it of being.

nigel slater is responsible for this and, as happened when i cooked his chickpea and pumpkin curry last week, i had the pleasure of eating food that sent me into raptures. 

the dish in question is pork ribs with aniseed and garlic. or, more particularly, it is pork ribs which have been rubbed with chinese five spice and are then slow-roasted with a tomatoey sauce that has been spiked with ginger and garlic.

the result is meltingly tender pork, a piquant finger lickin’ good sauce, sticky fingers, sighs of delight, an ever-growing pile of gnawed-upon ribs, full bellies and smiling faces all round. we ate our ribs with bowls of jasmine rice (there is just enough of the tomatoey sauce to justify this) and barely cooked tenderstem broccoli.

i shall be making this recipe again very soon.

nigel slater’s pork ribs with aniseed and garlic (serves 4-6*)

1.5kg pork ribs**

2 tablespoons sea salt flakes

2 teaspoons five-spice powder

4 medium onions

olive oil

3 large cloves garlic

a large thumb ginger

800g tin of chopped tomatoes (this is double what nigel suggests)

2 tablespoons dark soy sauce

1 heaped tablespoon thick honey

preheat the oven to 180c.

peel and roughly chop the onions, put them in a large pan with a glug of oil then add the peeled and chopped garlic. peel and shred the ginger into fine matchsticks, then stir into the softening onions together with the chopped tomatoes, soy sauce and honey, and seasoning of pepper and salt. bring to the boil, turn the heat down and leave to simmer for 10 minutes.

rub the ribs with the five-spice and salt then place them on a baking tray. pour the sauce over the ribs and toss them in it. cover with foil, then bake for an hour and a half until the fat is soft and the meat is tender. remove the foil for the last 25 minutes. you will be left with melting meat and wobbly fat with barely any sauce. the only way to eat them is with your hands, caveman-style.

* we had 750g ribs between two of us and, although we ate them, we really didn’t need to.

** try to buy them as 3 or 4 single pieces and then cut them into individual ribs so you don’t miss out on any meat. this is a fabulously cheap cut – mine cost a mere £3 for 750g from the ginger pig.