Thursday, 11 April 2013

Lemon and ginger pork skewers

Lemon and ginger are natural bedfellows, providing a blast of heat and sweet-sour contrast. I used to buy a ready-made marinating paste when I lived in France but on my last couple of trips back I've not been able to find it. I've been experimenting for some time with a homemade version.

It's nice to be back, by the way. I've not been living on takeaways in my absence (well, ok, one or two) - it's just that life got in the way.

What you need:
125g fresh ginger
2-3 very thin-skinned lemons
Vegetable oil
Sea salt
2 slices belly pork

What to do: 
Make the lemon and ginger paste. Peel the ginger and cut it into small chunks. Chop the lemons and discard all the pips. If a lot of juice runs off, set it aside. Put the ginger and lemons into a food processor, with a generous pinch of salt and a good glug of the oil, then blitz into a smooth paste. Thin it with a little lemon juice if very stiff.

Cut the pork into bite-sized chunks, put into a bowl and rub a heaped tablespoon of the paste in. Leave in the fridge to marinate for 2-3 hours minimum, overnight if possible.

Thread onto 2 metal kebab skewers and grill for about 10 minutes, turning frequently. Serve with sweet potato and coriander mash.

Cook's tips: 
The easiest way to peel ginger root is to scrape the skin off with the tip of a teaspoon. It comes off very fast. The lemons need to be very thin-skinned because they have almost no pith and this uses whole lemons. If you can't find thin-skinned ones, you could use preserved lemons, but the paste will be much sharper in taste. Don't be afraid to tinker with the proportions if you want more heat or more lemon. And you may need to add more salt to taste.

This makes about two jam jars' worth of paste. It'll keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks and it freezes well. You can stir it into tagines and curries, or pretty much anything where you want a hit of heat and sour. It's also very nice with chicken, either grilled fillets or rubbed into slow-cooked thighs (slash the meat to get the paste right in). I've even rubbed it over a whole chicken for roasting.

Use pork fillet if you prefer a leaner cut, just be sure to reduce the grilling time so the meat doesn't overcook and turn dry.