Soft, crisp, gelatinous, salty, sour, sweet, chewy. To the Chinese, balance is mandatory to the perfect meal.
On Saturday I parked in the oven a Warialda Belted Galloway Beef cheek in Chinese millet vinegar and leftover Vietnamese pho soup with a dice of daikon and onion, star anise, mandarin peel, and Sichuan pepper. It cooked for three hours on low heat. It came out wonderfully rich and gelatinous, but outside of a traditional Chinese meal with a bowl of rice and side dishes, I wasn’t quite sure how else to serve it.
But tonight I realised that because it was a North/Central Chinese style dish it would be a perfect companion to the Flower Thread Mantou, a traditional version of the steamed rice flour bun made popular by NYC Chef David Chang of Momofuku). The Flower Thread bun is rolled into a scroll and can contain shallots. I had some in the freezer, as they can readily be bought in Chinese grocery stores. I then added some fresh spring onion to relieve the gelatinous intensity against the soft, faintly sweet, yielding bread.
To balance it, I added crisp, creamy Warialda sweetbreads rolled in homemade breadcrumbs made by blitzing some leftover crusts in the food processor. Super fresh sweetbreads are easy to prepare, remove any suet (fat) from around them, then soak the creamy bundles in salted water for an hour and drain before cooking. My tip is to refrigerate the crumbed morsels for at least 10minutes before shallow frying.
The vegies included some home grown salad greens, a sweet blanched homegrown baby beet and a mini Japanese turnip. I just put them in a container of boiling water and cover with a lid. No stovetop cooking required.
Sounds complicated? No, it was dead easy. I did it all sitting down in my tiny kitchen. Being composed of ‘nose to tail’ style secondary cuts and home grown vegetables it was really flavourful and kinder on the budget than prime cuts. As Mr Sticki says “Looks like restaurant food….but it’s is better than a bought one”. Homecooked Slow Food rocks.