|Welcome to the Kingdom of Wonder|
One of the first things I got to do was check out the great Central market here and check out what kind of food was available. To say I'm impressed with the selection and quality of the produce, meat and seafood here would be an understatement. The butchers seem skilled and the pork cuts especially looked great. Seeing a really nice rack of ribs I couldn't help but grab them and then run around and find some stuff to go with them. I love to take something I know well and then put a local twist on it with some of the nicer ingredients found locally.
Pineapple & Tamarind BBQ Ribs
Marinading the Ribs
One of the other great things about Cambodia is that liquor is absurdly cheap. Bourbon costs the same as a bottle of wine. What this means is that it's cheap to cook with plenty of liquor which can add some really nice flavor to food. so once home i rubbed the ribs down in salt, pepper and oil and then marinaded it in a mixture of oil, vinegar and bourbon.
1 Part Apple Cider Vinegar
2 Parts Sunflower/Olive Oil
4 Parts Bourbon
Added a bit more salt, pepper and some sweet chili powder.
Mixed it all together and set the ribs aside in the refrigerator for a while
I love fresh tamarind and you just don't find too much of it outside of Southeast Asia. Instead of using tons of brown sugar I instead used pineapple as a natural sweetener and supplemented it with some palm sugar which has a really nice almost caramel like flavor.
First thing to do was to make a paste out of the tamarind. I softened it up by simmering it in a 50/50 solution of bourbon/water and then once cooled a bit took the pits out and mashed it up in one of the worlds best traveled mortar and pestles (it's now traveled from Nepal to the UK to the US back to the UK and then back to the US before getting to Cambodia). With the pulp made it was time to get the rest of the ingredients together.
Fresh Chili, thinly sliced
Ginger, julienne cuts
Fresh Pineapple, sliced and rough chopped
Apple Cider Vinegar
In one pan saute the shallots, garlic chili and ginger in a bit of oil until it browns. In another pan mix the pineapple, tomatoes, tamarind paste in some bourbon and toss in a healthy amount of palm sugar. Cook until the tomatoes dissolve and then mix in the sauteed mixture as well as a spoonful of mustard, a good couple glugs of Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco and a bit of vinegar. Cook until the sauce thickens a bit. Let it cool a bit and then toss it in the blender.
Cooking the Ribs
I would have used a grill, but I only had my newly picked up large toaster oven. In any case preheat something to a lower heat, around 285-300F. Heat some oil and sear the ribs briefly on either side. Coat them in sauce and place in oven or grill. I cooked them for 2 hours and applied more sauce about every 30 minutes.
The seafood at the market was excellent; squid, scallops, prawn, skates, plenty of fish and so much more. Not able to resist some good looking prawn I decided to mix them in with a light mix of thinly sliced cucumber, avocado, diced tomato and a light citrusy Honey-lime and chili dressing.
1 part lime juice
1 part honey
a glug or two of fish sauce
thinly sliced red chili
Salt & Pepper
Mix the dressing ingredients and let it sit as long as you can as it lets the chili diffuse. The prawn can just be boiled in a bit of water, I usually add some lime and salt to the water as well. Prawn just need to cook for about 8 minutes or so. Once removed from the water, just let them chill in the refrigerator.
I find that for salads like this a really thin cut on the cucumber is nice and, depending on the consistency, for the avocado as well. Add the diced tomato and then toss it all in the dressing. Some of the avocado will dissolve a bit making a bit of a nice creamy dressing. Throw prawn in around the side, they were quite tasty with that dressing.