Sweet and Sour Lamb Ribs

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Complex

  • Serves

    4–6

Appears in

Lamb ribs are seriously underrated as a cut. We always think to go with pork, but lamb ribs are fatty, sticky and gelatinous – everything you want in a rib and also, the perfect beer companion. The sweet and sour sauce keeps well in the fridge and is handy to have on hand for when the mood strikes.

Ingredients

Sweet and Sour Sauce

  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 150 ml (5 fl oz) Chinkiang black vinegar
  • 170 ml ( fl oz/ cup) fish sauce
  • 150 g (5 oz) soy paste
  • 3 lemongrass stems, pale part only, very finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped ginger
  • 10 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 small long red chillies, very finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin

Lamb Ribs

  • 5 racks of lamb ribs
  • 6 litres (210 fl oz/24 cups) Chinese masterstock (Essentials)
  • vegetable oil, for deep-frying
  • 1 small handful of coriander (cilantro) leaves, roughly chopped, to garnish
  • 1 small handful of mint leaves, roughly chopped, to garnish
  • 1 small handful of Vietnamese mint leaves, roughly chopped
  • lime wedges, to serve

Method

Sweet and Sour Sauce

To make the caramel, add the sugar and 100 ml ( fl oz) water to a heavy-based saucepan over a high heat. Resist the urge to stir, just allow the heat to begin to transform the sugar. Gently swirl the water to move things around a little bit, and use a wet pastry brush to brush down the sides if crystals start to appear.

Once a light caramel is achieved (about 245°C/475°F on a sugar thermometer), add the remaining ingredients. Be careful as the mixture may spit. At this point, the sugar will start to solidify. Bring the mixture to the boil again and simmer until the sugar has re-melted and you have a uniform sauce. Cool, then transfer to an airtight container and set aside.

Lamb Ribs

Preheat the oven to 160°C (315°F/Gas 2–3). Put the lamb ribs in a large ovenproof braising saucepan, cover with the masterstock and heat over a high heat. When the stock reaches boiling point, remove from the heat, cover with a lid, and transfer the dish to the oven. Bake for 3½ hours.

You can tell when the meat is done as it will be meltingly tender and falling away from the bone. Leave the ribs in the liquid until they are cool enough to handle. Spread them out on a tray, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, cut the ribs into individual pieces. Heat the oil in a deep-fryer to 180°C (350°F). Deep-fry the ribs in batches for about 4 minutes, or until they go dark and crispy. Put the ribs in a bowl with the herbs and a generous amount of the sweet and sour sauce. Toss to coat, making sure you coat the ribs generously with the sauce.

To Serve

Transfer to a platter, scatter with the herbs and serve with lime wedges.

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