Monday, 3 August 2009

Summer Fest - Spiced Red Plum, Ginger and Rhubarb Relish

I read about this year's Summer Fest on the White on Rice Couple's blog and as it so happened, I had plans to cook up a plum and rhubarb relish this weekend anyway, so I thought I'd kill two birds with one stone and join in the super summer food fest fun (say that 20 times fast)!

On our trip to Borough Market on Saturday, we picked up what turned out to be an incredibly fatty and overpriced hunk of pork belly. I adore roast pork belly and I'd been wanting an excuse to try out the Ottolenghi recipe for ages, so this weekend seemed like a good time. The meat was delicious but I've definitely learnt a few lessons - the way they cooked it is massively over complicated for a domestic kitchen and rubbing on minced garlic then roasting for 3 hours leads to inedible pan juices. So so acrid. Not to mention wasting a whole bottle of wine... So anyway, I'm not going to give you the recipe as is because I think it needs some major tweaking, but I shall definitely persevere - if anyone has any tips for how to achieve the incredible crackling on top and the super soft meat underneath, please do let me know!

So the pork was fine, but the success story was the relish. Oh, it's good. And I don't like rhubarb. It's sweet and sticky with the plums, but the rhubarb tartness cuts through it and makes it the perfect pairing for a fatty cut like belly pork. The star anise, ginger and cinnamon give it an oriental (or JJ thinks more Christmasy) twist plus the slight heat of the chilli adds a great depth of flavour. I'm sure this would work equally well with any number of other roasted meats - I can imagine it with something fairly robust like duck or something even gamey like pheasant. Might try pan fried duck later this week... Sounds awesome! It will keep in a sealed jar for 1-2 weeks.
I'm probably guessing this would make a better autumnal dish than mid summer, but the UK's not really feeling that summery at the mo anyway! Actually, can you get rhubarb in the autumn? Spot the novice gardener!

Spiced Red Plum, Ginger and Rhubarb Relish

(Adapted from Ottolenghi, the Cookbook)

5 red plums, stoned and cut into quarters
1 red chilli, halved and seeded
2 cinnamon sticks
1 star anise
100ml red wine vinegar (we only had a little left so ended up being mostly white wine vinegar which worked just fine)
200g caster sugar
4 stalks rhubarb cut into 3cm lengths
2" knob of ginger, very thinly sliced and then cut into tiny strips

Heat the oven to 150C/Gas mark 2.

Place the plums and chilli in a heavy based saucepan and add the cinnamon, star anise, vinegar and half the sugar. Stir well, bring to the boil and boil gently for 25-30 mins, stirring occasionally. The plums should have a jam-like consistency. To check this, chill a plate and place a teaspoon full of the chutney on it. Run your finger through it and if it stays apart it's ready. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.

While the plums are simmering away, place the rhubarb, ginger and remaining sugar in an ovenproof dish. Rub them together with your hands and place in the oven. Cook for 20-30 minutes, stirring from time to time, until the rhubarb is tender. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Combine the plums and rhubarb and mix well. Remove the chilli and transfer the chutney to a jar. Either serve straight away or store in the fridge where it will keep for a week or two.

Enjoy! Rosy xx


  1. I LOVE relish and this looks delicious! I also am a rhubarb addict, it grows well in NY in our cool climates. I can't wait to try this, I think I might pair it with cheese.

  2. That looks delicious! And probably fantastic with something like cornmeal pancakes, too!

    Found your post on Margaret Roach's blog, so thought I'd leave you a comment and a link to one of my stone-fruit posts, a cherry salsa I did earlier this summer.

  3. Thank you! I bet it would be fab with cheese. I would love to know what a cornmeal pancake is but it sounds like it would work a treat! To be honest, I've been eating it from the jar with a spoon while JJ's not looking... Well it only lasts 2 weeks and I don't want it to go to waste! x
    ps love the cherry salsa - always on the look out for stuff like that to jazz up grilled fish. So original!

  4. Rhubarb is a spring thing, so any in Autumn is probably going to be frozen, but as you are making it in to relish it probably won't make too much difference!

    I love the photo of the star anise and cinnamon with the plums in the background too!

  5. Wow... it looks so good:)