James Wong's - Homegrown Revolution


Posted on: December 12th, 2012 by James Wong 4 Comments

Crisp, bright & with an almost tropical fruitiness, raw rhubarb is a truly unexpected treat. Swap the simmering for an overnight soaking & transform a ration book staple into something altogether more far-away & exotic.


Despite having been grown for millennia for its medicinal roots, rhubarb’s edible charms were surprisingly only discovered two hundred years ago right here in Old Blighty, making it one of the world’s most modern food crops. This comparatively tiny history as a cook’s ingredient, means that we have only just started tapping into its true culinary potential & amazing versatility – as crisp, raw vegetable for instance. Skeptical? Give a couple of these recipe a go & let me know what you think.

RAW RHUBARB ACHAR – with pineapple, chilies & cashews

Raw rhubarb achar

A cross between a fruity salsa & crisp veggie pickles, Achar is a Malaysian salad that adds a bright, zingy note to rich curries, grilled fish  & satay. Here is my fusion take that uses rhubarb much like green mangos or green papayas to add a fresh zesty note to an old-school street food favourite.

Serves 4 as a side dish

What you need:

2 sticks of forced winter rhubarb (summer rhubarb can be a little tough & stringy), sliced very thinly

1/4 cucumber, finely sliced into bite-sized pieces

1/4 pineapple, finely sliced into bite-sized pieces

1/4 red onion, finely sliced

1 red chili, finely slice

1 tbsp of sugar

1/4 tsp of salt

2 tbsp of white vinegar

1 small sprig of mint, finely chopped

2 tbsp of roast cashews, finely chopped.

What to do:

1. Combine all the ingredients, except for the cashews, in a large mixing bowl and toss together to combine.

2.Cover and pop in the fridge for the flavours to meld overnight (or for at least 2 hours). The vinegar will part pickle the vegetables, with the sugar and salt will drawing out the excess moisture & making them firmer and crisper.

3.Before serving, drain off the excess liquid & scatter over the roast cashews.

4.Serve cold with grilled fish, rich curries or satay.

RAW RHUBARB COMPOTE – with candied ginger & pistachios

Fresh & zesty this super-simple raw compote is a world away from the soggy, over-boiled school dinner version.

Serves 4

What you need:

2 sticks of forced winter rhubarb, sliced very thinly

5 dried apricots, finely diced

2 tbsp of sultanas, finely chopped

1 tbsp candied ginger

1 tbsp honey

1 tbsp sugar

The juice & zest of 1/2 a lime

2 tbsp pistachios, halved

What to do:

1. Tip all the ingredients together in a small mixing bowl and toss to combine.

2. Cover and place in the fridge overnight (or for at least 2 hours) to let the flavours meld.

3. Serve with greek yoghurt & granola, with french toast & clotted cream or even as a sweet chutney with cheese and crackers.

RAW RHUBARB DAIQUIRI – with rosewater & strawberries

Raw rhubarb & rosewater daiquiri

For a glimpse of summer right in the depths of winter, nothing beats this concoction of rhubarb, rosewater & strawberries.

Makes 4 glasses

What you need:

4 sticks of forced winter rhubarb, sliced into chunks

The juice and zest of 1 lime

100g of caster sugar

5 frozen strawberries (fresh will work just fine too)

2 tsp rosewater

100ml tonic water

2 shots of white rum

What to do:

1.Whizz all the ingredients in a blender until you get a smooth pulp.

2.Strain the pulp through a sieve & pour over glasses full of ice.

3.Scatter over a few thin shards of rhubarb and lime slices.


4 Responses

  1. Nikita says:

    It looks so yummy, but unfortunately we don’t have rhubarb in Bandung, Indonesia >_<'''
    (at least I never see one either in modern supermarket nor in traditional market).
    We have the similar achar here, but it's only cucumber, carrot, red onion, cayenne pepper, white vinegar, sugar and salt. We also have it together as side dish with satay (usually) but we use it for another dish too.
    In my experience, when you make a fresh batch, the taste not quite 'there' yet. But, if you put it in the refrigerator for one night, then tomorrow the flavour will really come out (^o^)

  2. Claire says:

    I had never considered rhubarb raw previously. We always have more than we need on the allotment so will give this a try this year.


  3. Rachel K says:

    Super! Wasn’t going to grow rhubarb, but might have to now. Glad to see some raw recipes as I try to eat around 50% raw fruit and veg as it’s reputed to be so much better for you than cooked. Am enjoying your book by the way and am grateful that you’ve given me some great ideas beyond boring allotment veg. Have made a list of new varieties to try, can’t wait for the weather to improve now so the adventures can begin.

  4. Julie says:

    When we were kids as a snack we use to have a stick of rhubarb and a wee dish of sugar which we dipped the rhubarb into, yum!

Leave a Reply