Rhubarb

First things First I love Rhubarb, I’m not entirely sure why I love it so much, it may be my Yorkshire heritage coming to the surface, my enthusiasm for all things spring or maybe just that many of my favourite flavours are sweet and sour.

So when it appeared last week in the farmers market I rather enthusiastically bought 3 large bunches of the lovely pink stems. I then had a very enjoyable Sunday playing with recipes for the barb, watching old movies (How to marry a millionaire anyone?) and fuelling myself by eating the spare stems how I used to at my grans house, dipped into a pot of sugar that slowly turned pink through the day.

After having my mums AMAZING Vietnamese beef salad a few weeks ago (a huge platter of crunchy vegetables, rice noodles, tangy dressing and searing hot marinated beef) I knew I needed to have a go at making something similar, so when I saw a lovely piece of free range belly pork at a very reasonable price at the market I knew I had my starting point.

Many sweet and sour type sauces use pineapple to provide the fruity tanginess the sauce needs properties that are abundant in rhubarb – which has the added benefit of not being flown half way across the world to reach us!

For the salad – really just use any crunchy vegetables you have to hand the below is just what I had available in the fridge.

Rhubarb Sweet and Sour Noodle Salad

Serves 4

For the sweet and sour sauce:

  • 250g rhubarb roughly chopped
  • 1 chilli
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 inch of fresh ginger
  • Juice of ½ a lime
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce

1 mid size piece of pork belly – roughly 30 by 20 cm – diced into cubes

For the salad dressing

  • 3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 3 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • Optional addition of chilli.

For the salad

  • 3 nests of rice noodles
  • 1 bunch spring onions
  • 3 carrots in thin strips
  • 10 radish thinly sliced
  • 2 golden beetroot thinly sliced
  • 1 handful of mangetout
  • 1 romaine lettuce
  • 3 tbsp chopped mint
  • 3 tbsp chopped coriander

 

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Ahead of time you need to marinate the pork belly in the sauce, I left mine about 4 hours, but the longer the better.

For the sweet and sour sauce add all ingredients to a blender, blend and pour over your pork belly cubes ensuring everything is coated then cover and pop in the fridge. After your meat has marinated pop with all the sauce into an oven proof dish, cover in foil and pop it in the over at 150 degrees for about 90 mins.

To cook the rice noodles add to a bowl, cover in boiling water, leave for 5 mins then drain and allow to cool.

For the dressing add all ingredients to a bowl and stir until the sugar melts.

From this point it is really just an assembly job – On a large platter (this is much nicer as a sharing type dish) combine your noodles with the vegetables, lettuce and most of the herbs (hold a few back for arty Jamie Oliver style scattering).

Remove the meat from the oven, heat a large frying pan or wok then add the strained meat to the pan on a high heat just for 2-3 mins moving them over as you go so all sides get crispy.

Add your dressing to the platter at the last minute, spread the meat over the top and scatter the herbs over the top in pre-mentioned arty fashion.

What I really like about this dish is you can have everything prepared in advance, if you had guests over all you would have to do is fry the meat at the last minute and combine the salad with the dressing.

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