Golden Flower restaurant at the Wynn Macau offers the rare chance to taste authentic Tan cuisine, a tradition that runs back to the Qing Dynasty. We spoke to Liu Guo Zhu about his work at the restaurant, which has two Michelin stars.
Why do you particularly like Tan cuisine amongst all China's culinary styles?
I particularly like Tan cuisine because it is a style of cooking that can be enjoyed by both northern and southern Chinese. The flavours are very balanced and the cuisine protects the original flavours of our high-quality ingredients. It is also very labour-intensive and employs Cantonese methods of braising, roasting, stewing, and simmering. Many of the basic ingredients of Tan cooking – leek, rock sugar, and garlic – are sourced locally, thus making ‘Tan cuisine’ a unique blend of China’s north and south.
What is the principal feature that sets Tan cuisine apart from other types of Chinese cooking?
Dating back to the Qing Dynasty, the meticulous cooking traditions of Tan cuisine have been carefully passed on from generation to generation. The cuisine’s founder, Tan Zongjun, was a Qing Dynasty official who created a cuisine that is now recognized as one of northern China’s top culinary traditions. The cuisine has become so important in fact, that only Tan dishes are served to important world leaders and dignitaries who visit Beijing. During my time at Beijing Hotel, I cooked for Her Royal Highness the Queen of England, the US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, and Chinese leader Deng Xiao Ping.
Sticky rice ball, Beijing style
Glutinous rice 225 g
Flour 100 g
Green plum 15 g
Sesame seeds 50 g
Walnut 10 g
Melon seeds 5 g
Sweet winter gourd 15 g
White sugar 100 g
Crystal sugar 15 g
Osmanthus sugar 5 g
Hawthorn jelly 25 g
Wash the glutinous rice, and then soak in cold water for 6 hours. Drain the rice and steam in a dim sum basket over high heat for an hour (place a clean wet cloth at the bottom).
Put the glutinous rice in a tray and pour in 200 ml of boiled water (after it has cooled to room temperature). Cover the lid and allow the rice to soak for 15 minutes to absorb water.
Put the rice in the steamer again for 30 minutes. Transfer the rice to a tray and pound it until it turns into a paste. Cool the rice paste down on a clean wet cloth.
Shell the walnuts. Dice into small pieces after baking. Wash the sesame seeds and dry over the fire. Grind the seeds into powder. Wash the melon seeds and bake in the oven. Dice the green plum and hawthorn jelly into small pieces. Pound the crystal sugar into pieces.
Mix the walnuts, sesame puree, melon seeds, green plum, hawthorn jelly and crystal sugar with the white sugar and osmanthus sugar to create the filling.
Steam the flour until well done and allow it to cool.
Mix the cooked flour and the glutinous rice paste on the table. Knead into dough and divide into 10 portions. Flatten each portion to make the dumpling skins, then wrap 22 g of filling in each skin to make a ball shape. Roll the balls in flour, then present them on a plate and allow to cool.