Just as soon as Anthony Bourdain’s paean to Melbourne’s food had scratched the travel itch into submission, Lifestyle Food popped Gary Rhodes into my just-home-from-work TV slot with his travels around China. Thanks. From reading Fuschia Dunlop’s Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper, I did know that there was a world of food beyond the eastern cities we visited, but actually seeing them activated acute travel regret.
Gary’s a personable TV presence and, as he did in his “Indian road trip”, he took a student role to local chef mentors as he learned about the dishes specific to each of the regions he visited. His “sous chefs” – I missed the beginning of the first episode, so it took me some time to figure out that they weren’t actually chefs he’d brought from his kitchen, but a couple of lucky applicants – did some colour pieces and investigations into local ingredients.
Anyway, we were particularly interested in seeing the Yangzhou segment and the method the local chef used for his Lion’s Head Meatballs. The home chef then did a mashup of his recipe and the Fuschia Dunlop version and we had them for dinner last weekend. It’s difficult to say whether it was the alterations to the recipe that made it even better than last time because for this effort he also hand-minced the pork. In order to make a final decision on which recipe reigns supreme, we’d have to make the original one again, with hand-minced pork. Perhaps…
In the meantime, I’ve posted the mashup recipe over on our shopping/recipe list blog.