Tag Archives: ginger

……… And Yet More Rhubarb

spiced rhubarb and grilled mackerelAt last a chance to cook up one of my favourite combinations. Lovely Kate gave me a huge pile of rhubarb from her garden a couple of days ago and the slightly milder weather has lured back the mackerel, they virtually jumped off the slab at the fishmonger’s this morning. So dinner was decided in a moment.

Grilled Mackerel with Spiced Rhubarb

I medium mackerel per person, gutted and trimmed of fins
A splash of rapeseed oil
salt and pepper

For the sauce (for 4)
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
3-4 shallots, finely diced
1 cm piece of ginger, finely diced
1-2 red chillis, finely diced (do check how hot they are)
1 star Anise
About 4 sticks of rhubarb
Juice of 1 orange
2 tbsp sugar
1-2 tbsp Tamari or Soy Sauce

Pre-heat the oven or grill to its highest setting. Line your tray with a bit of foil, to save on washing up later, & then splash on the oil. Turn the fish in the oil and then season. Set the fish aside whilst you get the sauce done.

This sauce is a cinch.  Just fry the shallot, ginger, chilli and star anise for about 10 minutes until slightly golden and very fragrant. Add the rhubarb, orange juice, sugar and a splash of Tamari. Simmer gently until the rhubarb is soft but still intact. If you do have a disaster and the rhubarb collapses into a stringy mess then it’s best to puree the sauce completely. Balance the sauce with more sugar or Tamari if necessary.

Cook the mackerel in the oven or under the grill until just cooked through and coming away from the bone. We had new potatoes and a fresh green salad with ours this evening. Very, very nice indeed.

The sauce is also stunning with pork belly and I’m up for trying it with roast duck next time around.

Rhubarb Cordial

I still had mounds of rhubarb and decided to make some cordial. I wasn’t expecting the fabulous girly-pink juice that I’ve seen in magazines since most of the sticks were rather green (and no Kate, I am NOT complaining). But, I have to admit to being pretty chuffed with the stunning peachy-pink of my cordial, which is good news since I think that boiling up the expensive, early forced rhubarb really would be too much of an extravagance.

I’ve tinkered with my recipe a little because the cordial could do with being a a bit more intense. It really only worked at a 50/50 dilution so I’ve cut down on the water in my recipe below. So yours could come out an even more amazing colour.

rhubarb cordialAbout 500g rhubarb, chopped into smallish logs
Juice of 2 orange
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
200 g raw castor sugar
200 ml water

Fling everything in the pan and simmer until the rhubarb has just collapsed and looks rather slimy and revolting.

Strain the rhubarb mixture through a sieve and resist from stirring, prodding and squashing (or you will end up with a cloudy syrup). The cordial will drip through slowly. You could leave it to strain in the fridge overnight if you have room. I never do, my fridge is a nightmare; an avalanche just waiting to happen.

Bottle the cordial, keep in the fridge and use within a week. If you really do have a massive rhubarb crop on your hands you could stir in about a tablespoon of citric acid (available from shops that sell home-brewing kit) to the rhubarb just before straining  and then you’ll be able to keep it for months. It’s delicious with some stem ginger syrup added too.

Try your cordial with:

Fizzy water and fresh mint. With Prosecco, an English spin on the Harry’s Bar Bellini. With a shot of vanilla vodka (recipe to come at a later date) Or make a jelly…see below

And the leftover rhubarb mush

The rather unattractive sludge left in your sieve is fantastic stirred into some Greek yoghurt for breakfast. You could even layer it in a glass with some cream/custard and crumbled ginger nuts for a simple supper dessert.

Rhubarb Jelly

Rhubarb Jelly is fabulous using your cordial. Check the size of your dariole moulds, rabbit, racing car, other jelly moulds or perhaps you’re just using glasses. Fill up the mould with water and tip into your measuring jug and multiply by however many you’re making. Take enough sheets of gelatine to set said amount of liquid and place them in a bowl of cold water to soak.

Remember not to dilute the cordial too much, your jelly needs to be much sweeter and stronger tasting than a drink would be. Heat up about 1/4 of your diluted cordial. Remove the floppy sheets of gelatine from their water, give them a squeeze and then add to the hot liquid. They’ll dissolve in an instant. Add the remaining liquid for your jelly and tip into the moulds. Leave for a few hours to set.

Dip the jelly moulds into some hot water, just for as few seconds, and turn out onto plates.

rhubarb jelly

Rhubarb, Rhubarb


I can’t help muttering “rhubarb, rhubarb” every time I decide to cook some. It’s rather like shrieking “Basoool” in a Sybil Fawlty-esque voice whenever I make some pesto. It’s really not funny but there are certain bits of ridiculous British humour that have become lodged in my brain for life. I’ve not seen the Eric Sykes film Rhubarb, Rhubarb for decades. I’m not even sure that a farcical game of golf between a policeman and a vicar (whose only words “rhubarb, rhubarb” are repeated many, many times) would be that amusing any more, but now I’m determined to track the film down just to see.

I’m especially in love with rhubarb at this time of year when the stalks are still slender, tender and lurid pink. I loathed it as a child. It was the school pudding that did it;  slimy mush topped with undercooked pastry, all floating in a pool of lumpy Bird’s custard. Now I just can’t get enough of the stuff whether it’s the stunning Barbie-pink forced stems or the more sturdy garden varieties.

So, I had my big bunch of rhubarb and had already decided that the finer pieces would end up on top of a gingery meringue whilst I made a zippy sauce with the stumpier pieces to go with some wonderful fresh mackerel. Disaster, no mackerel. We’re not the only ones who are throughly peed off with the shockingly cold spring. The freezing easterly winds have sent the mackerel in the English Channel packing, seeking refuge in deeper waters, and only some milder westerly weather will bring them back. Thankfully David Smith, my fantastic fishmonger, does stock some delicious smoked mackerel from the local Severn and Wye Smokery too.

I changed tack and decided to try a dish using raw rhubarb. A Dutch friend had told me that he used to munch at the stems dipped in sugar when he was little. I tried it today. Not bad but rather like the super-sour sweets that children pretend to relish. I’m sure that they’re the junior equivalent of the posturing male’s Vindaloo curry, managing to look like you enjoy them brings some bizarre form of kudos amongst peers. I was more up for trying the traditional Iranian salad of salted rhubarb and cucumber that I’d found in Paula Wolfert’s brilliant book The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen. The tart, fresh crunch was a great combination with the rich oily fish. I swapped watercress for the rocket, did add a pinch of sugar, a splash of rapeseed oil and of course the smoked mackerel.

rhubarb and mackerel salad

Smoked Mackerel and Raw Rhubarb Salad

Serves 4 as a starter or 2 as a light lunch

2-3 stalks of rhubarb
1 small or 1/2 a large cucumber
2 tbsp salt
1 large bunch of watercress
2 fillets of smoked mackerel, skin removed
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
Black pepper and a pinch of sugar

Slice the rhubarb and the cucumber as thinly as possible (mandolin or knife, that’s your choice). I’d only bother to peel the cucumber if I was using one of the delicious, but tougher skinned, continental varieties & maybe thicker garden rhubarb would be best peeled too.

Put the rhubarb and cucumber in a colander and toss with the salt. Leave for 10 minutes and then rinse and drain it.

Now throw the salad together in a bowl, shredding the mackerel flesh in with the rhubarb, cucumber and watercress. Add the mint, lemon juice, rapeseed oil and pepper. Balance up the flavours with a pinch of sugar or salt, or maybe both.

Delicious with some sourdough bread and plenty of butter.

rhubarb and ginger pavlova


Mini Rhubarb and Ginger Pavlovas

The rather decadent mini pavlovas went ahead as planned. The classic combination of rhubarb and ginger is heaven. I really did pile the dried ginger into the meringue mixture, as well as serving some little chunks of the fiery crystalised stuff on the top. The pinky, pink rhubarb really looks beautiful. Save fools and crumbles for later in the season when it’s lost its good looks but still tastes great.

Serves 4 (with 4-6 left over meringues for another day – keep in a sealed bag/box/tin)

4 medium egg whites
225 g caster sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp cornflour

For the top
3-4 sticks of rhubarb, cut into 5cm-ish pieces
150 ml double cream, whipped until just stiff
8 pieces of crystalized ginger, sliced

Pre heat the oven to 180c. And line 2 baking sheets with baking paper.

Take an oven proof dish and place the rhubarb in 1 layer, sprinkle over the sugar and then cover with foil. Cook in the oven for anything between about 8 and 15 minutes until just tender (timings will depend on the thickness of the stalks). Watch it like a hawk as it can turn into a rather messy looking mush if you leave it just a couple of minutes too long. Set aside to cool.

Now for the meringue. Whisk up the egg whites until stiff and then whisk in the sugar a few tablespoons at a time until the meringue is really firm and glossy. Add the ginger, vanilla, vinegar and cornflour and whisk those in too.

Use a small blob of the meringue underneath the paper to stick it to the tray. Divide the meringue into 8 or 10 circles, leaving some space in between them as they will expand a little. Flatten the meringues, making a bit of a dip in the centre.

Place the trays in the oven and turn the heat down to 120 c. Bake for about an hour until crisp and golden.  Cool.

Serve the pavlovas piled with double cream, the fabulously pink rhubarb and a few pieces of chewy ginger.

Other Ways with Rhubarb

You’ll have to hold out for the rhubarb sauce (the one for the fresh mackerel) as my friend Kate   has promised me some stems from her garden this week so I’ll post about that recipe if the Mackerel have been lured back by the warmer weekend (although it was hardly balmy).

Rhubarb coulis. Cook up thicker rhubarb in a saucepan with a couple of oranges (juice and zest) and good dose of sugar. Once tender, puree with hand held blender until smooth. Try adding a few strawberries or better still raspberries for extra flavour and colour later in the season. Fabulous with vanilla ice cream and you crumble over some Ginger Nut biscuits for a bit of crunch.

And of course there’s fool, there’s crumble, there’s pie. There’s another post waiting to happen.