Ask Peter: Miso beef ribs
We were privileged to join you for Savour Niue, a truly wonderful four days! I’ve already cooked many of the recipes from your book but would love to try the delicious miso beef ribs. Would you be willing to share? Patsy
Oh those beef ribs. They were hugely popular and also hugely practical. In order to provide a variety of menus for my Savour Niue events, I had to take a lot of ingredients with me on the Air New Zealand flight from Auckland.
Whilst Niue has the most amazing honey, vanilla, fish and hydroponic veges and herbs, as well as seasonal bread fruit, cassava, taro and pawpaw, it was going to be a struggle to get the lamb, beef and other components locally, so I prepared the ribs at The Sugar Club.
A few days before we packed the ingredients I would take, I realised I’d need ice packs to keep everything chilled in the plane’s hold but also knew this would be a terrible waste of fuel. After all, frozen water packs would then have to be thrown out in Niue once we arrived.
I decided to freeze the beef and it became my ice packs! This was a trick I remember my father Bruce using when we had our long annual drive from Whanganui to the Coromandel for Christmas holidays, with the chilly bins full of food, some of it frozen. Thanks, Dad.
The beef was marinated in den miso before cooking. This is the sweet, cooked Japanese miso paste that I first encountered about 20 years ago at legendary Nobu restaurant, near Park Lane in London.
This paste transforms foods by making them taste perfectly seasoned in both a salty and a sweet way. It’s packed full of umami and although it’s a traditional Japanese seasoning/ingredient, I have also used a version of it mixed into a vanilla icecream base that I served with mango and passionfruit, and am currently using it drizzled over a double chocolate brownie before baking it at The Providores in London.
The dish that made it famous was Nobu Matsuhisa’s famous black cod. The fish is marinated, still on its skin, for a few days before being wiped off and grilled. It’s totally delicious and you can get something similar in Auckland at Masu.
The beef I used was bone-in short ribs. I rubbed den miso over the meat and marinated it for 36 hours in sous vide plastic bags. These were then steamed for 8 hours, cooled, the bones pulled out, the meat repacked and pressed. But here’s a method more easily done at home.
1 Trim off excess fat from 4kg beef ribs (lamb ribs are also delicious but will need less cooking). Don’t go crazy as fat is flavour, but any excessive fat can go. Rub the beef generously with 300g of den miso (get the recipe here) and place in an oven bag, removing most air and sealing it. Place the bag in a roasting dish, one that allows the beef to be in one layer. If that’s impossible you might like to cook this in 2 roasting bags in 2 roasting dishes. Marinate the beef for 36 hours, turning the bag over every 12 hours.
2 Add 1 cup water to the roasting dish to prevent the meat burning on the bottom. Cover with a double layer of foil, seal tightly, and put into an oven set to 200C (fan). Bake 30 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 130C and bake for 4 hours.
3 Carefully take the tray from the oven, remove the foil, cut the bag open (don’t worry if the juices run into the roasting dish) and cook another 60 minutes.
4 At this point the beef should be really tender with the meat shrinking away from the bones. Using tongs and an egg flip, you can now carefully remove it from the cooking liquid (and bag). Place on a clean tray and grill to colour the ribs. Strain the sauce, skim off any fat, and gently boil it to reduce until thickened and use this as a gravy. Or you can leave the ribs to cool to body temperature in the cooking juices, then remove the bones (they will slide out easily). Place in a dish lined with baking paper just large enough to hold all the boneless pieces. Lay a piece of baking paper on top then sit another same-sized dish on top and gently press for a few hours in the fridge till firm. When you are ready to serve, just cut into portions, lay on a baking paper-lined tray, spoon over half a cup of the strained and reduced cooking juices and bake at 200C until the beef is coloured and sizzling.
As for that bat I mentioned I ate in last week’s column...
Bats are a seasonal food like our own titi (mutton birds) and we were lucky to experience them cooked in an umu (hangi), having been frozen in advance. They tasted like a very gamey Scottish grouse, a wild bird that eats whatever it can get.
Unlike titi they aren’t salty as they are not preserved, and they don’t eat regurgitated fish from their parent’s mouth! If you get the chance to try them, then you should, but I’d suggest you don’t look them in the eye — as they look like a baby Godzilla with their teeth all white and pointy!
In our Ask Peter series, executive chef Peter Gordon answers your curly culinary questions. If you're stumped over something food-related, send your question to firstname.lastname@example.org and keep checking in for answers. You can read more on Peter on his website, have a read of his Ask Peter articles or check out his recipes on our site.