Cook it slow or wok it up fast - either way, an exotic bouquet of sense-sating spices will bring these dishes to life.
CHINESE-STYLE BRAISED BEEF RIBS
1.5kg beef ribs
1/2 cup coriander leaves
10 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
4 long spring onions, roughly chopped
1 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
90ml light soy sauce
60ml Shaoxing (Chinese cooking wine)
18 red dates
3/4 cup roasted peanuts, unsalted
3 whole star anise
1 cinnamon stick
2 large pieces of orange peel (using a peeler)
3 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 tbsp rock sugar, crushed (available from Asian supermarkets)
Serves 4 as a shared meal
To make the marinade, mix the garlic and hoisin together to create a paste. Combine the ribs with the marinade and set aside overnight in the fridge.
For the braising stock, pound the shallots and ginger in a mortar and place in a heavy-based saucepan with remaining ingredients. Add the beef, ensuring the liquid just covers the beef.
Bring to the boil over high heat, stirring to combine. Reduce heat to low, cover tightly and simmer very gently for about 2 hours or until meat is tender. If the sauce has not reduced to desired consistency, remove the lid and continue to simmer gently and allow sauce to reduce.
Check the balance of flavours, sprinkle with coriander and serve (in the pot in which it was cooked, if desired, or transferred to a large bowl).
HOT AND FRAGRANT PRAWNS
16 large green prawns, peeled
1/2 cup Shaoxing (Chinese cooking wine)
2 tbsp grapeseed oil
2 tbsp ginger, finely chopped
1 1/2 tbsp garlic, crushed
2 long red chillies, split, seeds removed, finely sliced lengthways
1/2 cup chilli bean sauce
3/4 cup chicken stock
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
1/2 cup fresh coriander leaves
2 spring onions, both white and green parts cut in julienne
Serves 4 as a shared meal
Marinate the prawns in the Shaoxing for 5 minutes and then drain.
Place a wok over high heat and add 1 tbsp of grapeseed oil. When very hot, add the prawns, cook about for about 2 minutes and remove. Add the remaining grapeseed oil to the wok and, when hot, add ginger, garlic and chilli. Stir fry until fragrant then add the chilli bean sauce, the chicken stock and dark soy sauce.
When thickened, put the prawns back in and cook for 1 minute.
Transfer to a large plate, sprinkle over the coriander and spring onions, and serve immediately.
* The rib recipe is also tasty with oxtail; likewise pork shoulder or chicken thigh with the bone in.
* The prawns can be replaced by scallops, bugs, lobster or chunks of white-fleshed fish.
* To moderate the spiciness of the prawns you can take out the fresh chilli but leave the chilli bean sauce in, as it adds a lot of flavour.
* Serve these dishes with steamed greens in oyster sauce and steamed rice.
SOMETHING TO DRINK
The light texture and sweetness of Dr Loosen's 2012 Blue Slate ($19) will balance out the spiciness of the prawn dish. This riesling from Germany's Mosel Valley has flavours of honey, lemon and apple.
Photography by William Meppem. Food styling by Hannah Meppem. Food preparation by Nick Banbury.