Today I have a delightfully tasty curry for you that marries rich spareribs and juicy daikon radish in a curry that’s redolent of spices from across the Asian continent. The ribs end up fall off the bone tender, but because it’s full of connective tissue that melt-away into lubricating gelatin, the meat stays supple and moist.
To balance the rich spareribs and spicy curry, I like adding big chunks of daikon radish. Daikon is a giant winter radish that can get as long as 24-inches, with a diameter of up to 4-inches. Like all radishes, the bottom (towards the root) tends to be the spiciest, while the top (towards the stems) is the mildest, but because of its size, the difference is quite pronounced. This is why I usually use the top half raw (either sliced or julienned) in salads, while the bottom half gets simmered until tender.
Unlike potatoes, which are loaded with starch; or carrots, which are loaded with sugar; daikon is mostly water suspended in fiber, which makes it a great low-carb alternative to other root vegetables. It absorbs flavors like a sponge, while being able to retain its shape, making it a delicious vegetable to add to soups or stews. Cooking daikon tames its peppery kick, and leaves it with a satiny smooth texture, that bursts into a pool of flavorful juice as you bite into it.
If you’re going to be adding daikon to something with a delicate flavor (like clear chicken soup), it’s a good idea to boil it separately at first, as it can have a pungent flavor that can overpower lighter stocks. But in this case, the ample spices and aromatics in the curry are potent enough that there’s no need to par-boil it.
By using a pressure cooker or an Instant Pot, you can cut the simmering time down from 2 1/2 hours to about 35 minutes, but if you don’t have one, just make this in a heavy bottomed pot and quadruple the simmering times. Like most curries, this tastes better the next day, so either make this ahead, or be sure to keep some leftovers to enjoy the next day.
- Sprinkle the spare ribs with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper on all sides.
- Heat a pressure cooker over medium heat until hot. Add the oil and the spareribs in a single layer and brown on 2 sides (about five minutes per side). Transfer the ribs to a bowl.
- Add the star anise, cloves and green cardamom to the pot and fry until fragrant.
- Add the garlic and ginger and continue frying until they're caramelized and fragrant.
- Add the onions and fry, stirring constantly until the onions are soft and caramelized.
- Return the spareribs to the pot and then add the vegetable stock, curry powder, fish sauce, and salt. Seal the lid, turn up the heat, and bring the cooker up to high pressure. Once the pressure cooker comes up to pressure, adjust the heat to maintain a steady stream of steam and set the timer for 25 minutes.
- When the timer goes off, use the quick-release function of your pressure cooker to quickly reduce the pressure and open the lid. Add the daikon and then seal the lid and bring the cooker back up to pressure again. This time, set the timer for 10 minutes.
- When the timer goes off, use the quick-release function of your cooker and open the lid. Adjust salt to taste and serve the sparerib and daikon curry with rice.