I hate Marmite. Loathe, despise and abhor the stuff. I run in the opposite direction from it. Until you cook it that is, and then something magical happens. The sharp bitterness mellows into a soft salty tingle that gives depth and layers to food like a rich umami gateway drug. But because I think Marmite on toast is the worst thing ever, I often forget about the other qualities of this oh so British spread.
When I marinaded some pork ribs last week in search of a serious savoury meat hit, I used miso as a base and was disappointed to find it lacked depth and left a strange powdery texture I disliked. I rummaged through the cupboards to find something to add the depth I needed, discarding fish sauce, barbecue sauce and soy sauce as just not quite right. And then I realised after 12 years of living in England, the thing my life was missing was Marmite. (I never knew anyone to keep Marmite in the house back in Belfast…)
This time I used some beautiful fat beef shortribs and rubbed them with a sticky Marmitey marinade for 36 hours, cooking them for 8 hours in the slow cooker and bingo! Dark delicious savoury meat that converted two people who don’t really like ribs usually to have second helpings.
Marmite Rubbed Ribs: serves 4
- 1 kg beef short ribs
- 1.5″ piece of ginger, grated finely
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup or rice bran syrup
- 2 heaped dessertspoons Marmite
- 1 tablespoon kicap manis (Malaysian sweet soy sauce)
- juice of one lime
- 1 tablespoon five spice powder (check for rogue garlic powder in cheap ones)
- salt and pepper
Make your marinade by mixing all the ingredients together in a shallow dish. If you don’t have maple syrup, you could use treacle instead. You could subsititute the kicap manis with soy sauce but if you have a Marks and Spencer nearby, they stock a lovely version. You want the marinade thick enough to stick to the meat but not gloopy so add or subtract lime juice as needed.
Then rub the marinade into the ribs well and leave in the fridge to work its magic. I left them for 36 hours, but overnight would be fine. Don’t forget to turn them to make sure the meat is evenly coated. My short ribs came cut into small squat sections with bone rather than a rack, making it easy to do this.
When you are almost ready to cook the ribs, take them out of the fridge about an hour before and allow to come to room temperature. If using the oven at 160℃ , pour the excess marinade off, cover the dish with foil and cook for 3 hours. I put mine into the slow cooker, added no liquid and put the lid on and left them for 8 hours on low.
On return the meat was falling off the bone and a lot of seriously beefy liquid had gathered in the pot. I’m sure you could make a fabulous sauce or gravy with it, but I like my food sauceless so I didn’t bother. I simply put the ribs in a dish, left them to cool to room temperature and we ate the tender meat with our fingers in front of Eurovision. I also had leftovers the next day on Lebanese flatbread with yoghurt, mint and cucumber and wished I’d cooked the other kilo I’d bought as well I enjoyed them so much. A definite win for Marmite this time!