Experiment: Steamed Ribs with Curry Leaves
This will be my first real experiment with Curry Leaves , other than cooking them with rice for the ‘Spices’ post they featured in some time ago ago. After considering a number of possibilities, I decided on a dish that was fairly simple in its flavorings, as I really wanted to be able to experience the full effect of the curry leaves without a lot of interference. The dish I came up with, Steamed ribs, is obviously quite Chinese in spirit, but the flavor palate is definitely East-Indian…
- ½ lb. Pork Spareribs
- ½ a small onion, thinly sliced
- ½ cup Curry Leaves
- 2 tbsp. Flour
- 1 ½ tsp. Turmeric
- 1 small Red Chili, sliced
- Pinch Salt
- ¼ cup Chicken Stock or Water (not shown)
By the way, as you can see in the picture, the ribs were first browned in a little oil. They are still pink inside, though. You can omit this preliminary step if you like (although maybe steam them for a little longer) but I find it makes for a much nicer end result.
Toss the ribs in flour and then rub it in until it all gets absorbed. Repeat this with the Turmeric and sprinkle on the salt.
Add all the other ingredients and then transfer everything to a steaming dish and sprinkle over the stock, making sure all the pieces of ribs get moistened. If you don’t have stock, you can just use water instead. Now, put the plate on to steam for a good thirty minutes or so until the ribs are tender. Serve hot.
When I featured these leaves in my ‘Spices’ post, I mentioned a component of their aroma and taste that I could only describe as a cross between dark toast and coconut husks. In the raw state, this is fairly mild but while I was steaming the ribs, that quality was really apparent in the aroma and it made the whole kitchen smell wonderful. As for the taste in the finished dish, however, I can’t say that the flavor was very assertive at all. Indeed, unless you actually had a leaf as part of a mouthful, they didn’t add much to the meat itself. Still, the flavor that was there was quite nice and I look forward to trying the leaves in a few other dishes.
A couple of points… First, contrary to my expectations, the leaves were not at all difficult to chew. They are quite tough, almost like bay leaves, when raw but they became quite tender after cooking. Secondly, I would counsel against trying to follow this recipe as is. The whole point of the experiment was to see how the curry leaves worked in the dish and so it was intentionally a little blander than I would have otherwise made it. You may wish to jazz things up a little with some cumin, coriander seed or black pepper, to suggest a few additions. If you hit upon a nice spice blend for this, please let me know…