Resetting the Table: Celebrating the Year of the Ox with Mei Lin

Recipe| January 20 2021

Photo by Tanveer Badal

Chinese-born Los Angeles-based chef Mei Lin’s Lunar New Year menu includes three wagyu-focused dishes to launch the Year of the Ox.  

Photo by Tanveer Badal

It’s a heartfelt meal, imbued with Mei’s careful, considered, no-waste approach to cooking and eating meat. She uses wagyu three ways, making the most of the fillet, trim and fat. Rump cap (coulotte) is grilled and served with a lucky tangerine sauce. Trim from that dish is mixed with eggplant and sticky rice and steamed in lotus leaves to form flavourful parcels. And rendered wagyu fat is used to season wok-tossed vegetables.  

Not only are each of these dishes delicious, they are linked by a common ingredient – our wagyu – and Mei’s philosophy.  



 

This is the fifth video in our Resetting the Table series, showing top chefs rethinking special occasions for challenging times. It’s a time for nostalgia and hope, remembering times past and forging a bold future. In Mei’s case, she talks us through some of the New Year traditions she grew up with while presenting a meal that speaks to today. 

 

Mei is owner and chef of Los Angeles’ Nightshade restaurant, which is currently closed due to the pandemic.  

Grilled Wagyu with Tangerine Sauce  

Photo by Tanveer Badal

Our wagyu rump cap (also known as coulotte or picanha) is beautifully marbled with a fat cap that renders beautifully on the grill. For her Lunar New Year menu Mei Lin serves it with a tangerine sauce. Tangerines (and oranges) are considered lucky in China because their name (cheng) sounds the same as the word for ‘success’. 

“Tangerine beef is traditionally a stir-fried dish with tangerine peel and ginger,” says Mei. “But this is my version. Instead of doing a stir fry, I do a kind of blend between a roast and a grilled steak. We use a roasting cut, the coulotte (or rump cap), cut into quarters and seared on the grill, then warmed through in the oven to a perfect medium rare.” The tangerine element is tweaked too. “Instead of a high-sugar marinade, I confit the tangerine peel to create an aromatic syrup and infuse it into a sauce with ginger, garlic, shallots and soy.” 

Mei uses a small Japanese charcoal grill known as a konro (or shichirin or hibachi). The konro uses binchotan charcoal, which is pure, porous and burns to a white ash. It’s prized for its clean burn and fragrant smoke. This style of cooking works wonderfully well for wagyu but if you don’t have a konro, you can use a barbecue or cast iron pan. 

Serves 8 people 

Time: 1 hour (plus 1 hour confit tangerine peel)  

Ingredients

Wagyu

1 piece rump cap (also known as coulotte or picanha), approx. 1.5kg (3.3lb) 
kosher salt 

Confit Tangerine Peel

8 tangerines * 
2 cups white sugar 

Tangerine Sauce

2 tbsp vegetable oil 
8 Thai shallots, trimmed 
8 garlic cloves, finely sliced 
3 tbsp ginger, peeled and finely sliced 
500 ml (2 cups) Shaoxing wine 
2 cups reduced tangerine juice (start with 3 cups and reduce to 2 cups) 
⅛ cup dark soy sauce 
⅛ cup confited tangerine peel 

Method

Wagyu 

  1. Preheat oven to 95C (200F). Carefully score the fat cap, cutting on the diagonal to create 1cm (½ inch) squares, ensuring you only cut into the fat, not the meat itself. 
  1. Portion meat into four large chunks and season each piece very well on all sides with kosher salt. 
  1. Set your konro grill with binchotan ¾ full on one side and heat until it’s red-orange in colour. Place the steak on the grill rack and let it brown for about a minute. Quickly flip to the other side for another minute so that it browns evenly. If there is any flare up, move the meat to the other end of the grill so it can relax away from the heat. You want to brown all sides of the steak and bring it to rare. 
  1. Place wagyu on a rack over a tray and transfer to the preheated oven until it reaches medium-rare, with an internal temperature of 54-57C (130-135F), or to your liking. (You can reserve rendered wagyu fat that drips onto the tray for Yu Choy recipe below.) 
  1. Remove meat from the oven and rest in a warm place for at least 10 minutes before slicing and dressing with Tangerine Sauce (recipe below). 

Confit Tangerine Peel 

  1. Peel the tangerines with a vegetable peeler and cut the peel into thin strips. 
  1. Place into a medium saucepan, generously cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Boil for five minutes, then drain. 
  1. Place sugar and 2 cups water in saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add peel and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Transfer peel and liquid to a jar and store in refrigerator. 

Tangerine Sauce 

  1. Heat a heavy-bottomed saucepan until it starts to smoke. Add oil, shallots and garlic, stirring until they start to turn golden-brown and toasty. Ensure they don’t darken too much because they will taste bitter. 
  1. Add ginger, stir, and then add the wine to deglaze. Reduce heat and simmer to burn off the alcohol, cooking for about 5 minutes. 
  1. Add the tangerine juice and cook until nice and glossy, with a thicker consistency. 
  1. Finish with dark soy and ⅛ cup confited tangerine peel. Stir to meld flavours, then spoon generously over sliced wagyu on a serving platter. Serve extra sauce at the table. 

NOTES 

  • If you can’t find tangerines, they can be replaced with oranges (6) or mandarins (8). 
  • The Confit Tangerine Peel can be made up to a week ahead of time. 

Wagyu Eggplant Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaf 

Photo by Tanveer Badal

“This is kind of like my Chinese rice tamale,” says Mei. She trimmed the rump cap (coulotte) before grilling it for the tangerine dish, above, and saved the trim for these sticky rice parcels. “I try to use everything in its entirety and minimise waste,” she says. “I sauteed the wagyu with eggplant, garlic and dark soy, teamed it with sticky rice, folded it together and steamed it in a lotus leaf.” 

Makes 10 parcels 

Time: 1½ hours, plus 4 hours rice soaking and 1 hour lotus leaf soaking 

Ingredients 

2 cups glutinous rice * 
1 tbsp grapeseed oil, plus extra for brushing 
1.5 cups wagyu fillet, in 2cm (½ in) dice 
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced 
1 tbsp ginger, minced 
4 long eggplants, cut into small pieces and sprinkled with salt 
1 tbsp sugar 
½ cup Shaoshing wine 
2 tbsp dark soy sauce 
2 tbsp oyster sauce 
½ tsp ground white pepper 
½ cup shallot tops or scallions, sliced 
5 whole lotus leaves, soaked in warm water for 1 hour, rinsed, stems trimmed, and cut in half  

Method

  1. In a medium bowl, soak the sticky rice in cold water for at least 4 hours, then drain.  
  1. Using a steamer, steam the sticky rice for 15-20 minutes. Set aside to cool. 
  1. Over high heat, add 1 tbsp grapeseed oil to a saute pan. When the pan is smoking slightly, add the wagyu and stir until browned 
  1. Add garlic, ginger and eggplant. Saute until browned, tender, and most of the moisture has evaporated. 
  1. Add sugar and quickly deglaze with Shaoshing wine until the alcohol burns off. 
  1. Add soy, oyster sauce, pepper and shallot tops and stir through. 
  1. Mix wagyu mixture with the cooked sticky rice.  
  1. Now you’re ready to make your lotus leaf wraps! Brush a thin layer of oil on a small section of one end of each of the 10 leaf halves. Put about ¾ cup of the mixture on the oiled area. Wrap each into a rectangle. 
  1. Steam in a bamboo steamer for 30 minutes. Enjoy straight out of the steamer. 

Notes  

  • Baking parchment can be used instead of lotus leaves. 
  • Glutinous rice is often sold as ‘Thai sticky rice’. 
  • Rice can be made a day ahead.

Yu Choy with Rendered Wagyu Fat and Salted Soybeans  

Mei Lin – Chef / Lifestyle / Food Photographer, Los Angeles – Westholme Beef Wagyu – Tanveer Badal Photography

Photo by Tanveer Badal

“I love rendering fat – especially roasted fat – and adding it to my vegetables or my rice,” says Mei. “You just get so much flavour. Growing up, the food in our household was vegetable based – you might have one small meat dish among a lot of different vegetables. It’s definitely in my nature to use meat carefully.”   

Serves 8, as part of a shared banquet 

Time: 20 minutes, plus 30 minutes soaking greens 

Ingredients

2 bunches yu choy (or bok choy or choy sum) 
1 strip wagyu fat, reserved from rump cap (couloutte), or use drained fat from grilled wagyu recipe, above 
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced 
2 tbsp salted soybeans * 
½ cup Shaoxing wine 

Method

  1. Submerge greens in ice-cold water for at least 30 minutes to freshen up the leaves. 
  1. Over a medium-high heat, render the wagyu fat in a wok or saute pan until it begins to resemble bacon.  
  1. Turn the heat down to medium. Add garlic to the fat and fry until the cloves are golden brown, but not burnt. This will flavour the fat. 
  1. Add the yu choy and stir so that each stalk gets a light coating of the garlic-flavoured oil. 
  1. Add the salted soybeans and wine and immediately cover. Let the vegetables steam for 1½-2 minutes until tender. The yu choy should still be bright green and the stalks should be tender but with a nice bite. 
  1. Remove greens with tongs and place on a platter; top with other ingredients from pan. 

Notes 

  • Yu choy, bok choy or choy sum can all be used for this dish. 
  • When cooking fresh vegetables, the heat of your wok should stay at medium to medium-high. If it’s too hot, the broth may evaporate too quickly and your vegetables may burn. If it’s too low, your vegetables will cook too slowly and lose their bright green colouring. You can cook other vegetables the same way, adjust the amount of liquid as necessary. Thicker stems need more liquid and more steam time. 
  • Salted soybeans and Shaoxing wine are available from Asian grocers. 

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