Confit lamb ribs with date syrup and toasted spices
Prep 20 mins
Cook 2 ¼ hrs
“I came across some crisp-fried lamb ribs in Chinatown in Queens once when I was eating my way through New York City,” says Analiese Gregory. “The dish was served as a whole piece of fatty ribs and belly, crispy on the outside and absolutely smothered by a pile of toasted sesame and cumin seeds that I thought would be overpowering, but which actually cut through the meat perfectly. Later, when I was in Morocco, where spices, date syrup and lamb were some of the readily available ingredients in the medina where I would shop every day, I created this version.” You’ll need to begin this recipe a day ahead to season the lamb ribs.
1.5 kg lamb ribs
50 g salt
Olive oil, as needed for cooking the ribs, plus 2 tablespoons for the breadcrumbs
15 g fennel seeds
15 g cumin seeds
120 g panko breadcrumbs
100 ml date syrup
1. Sprinkle the lamb ribs all over with the salt. Arrange them on a tray and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
2. Preheat the oven to 120°C. Wash the ribs, pat dry and put in an ovenproof pot, drenching them in olive oil. Bring the heat up slowly on the stove until the olive oil starts to bubble. Transfer to the oven and cook, covered, for approximately 2 hours, or until the ribs are tender and the meat comes easily away from the bone. Take the ribs out of the oil and chill down in the fridge until firm.
3. Combine the spices in a frying pan over a low heat and toast until fragrant, then pour into a bowl to cool down. Put the panko crumbs and 2 tablespoons oil in the pan and cook, stirring constantly, until crispy and golden. Add the crumbs to the spices, mix together and season with sea salt.
4. Preheat a deep fryer or stovetop pot of oil to 180°C. You’ll need enough oil to cover the ribs. Take the ribs and cut down between the bones to make individual ribs. Deep fry until brown and crispy on the outside (about 5 minutes; be careful of hot oil spitting). Drain and toss them in a bowl with the date syrup. To serve, arrange on a plate and cover with the spiced crumbs.
This is an edited extract from How Wild Things Are by Analiese Gregory, published by Hardie Grant Books, RRP $45. Available in stores nationally. Photography ©Adam Gibson.