The story of a fish and a sheep
Posted on June 24, 2016
We have a new dish on our a la carte menu – a poached monkfish and lamb broth. This dish takes on an unusual property of being both warming and ‘fresh’, with clean flavours and a rich depth, it is finished with goji berries to give a zest to the dish. The lamb enriches the broth without overpowering the fish, and that monkfish is particularly good to use as the texture and flavour stand up to lamb.
This is a traditional Northern Chinese meal, and although seems an unusual combination, like many of our dishes, it has it’s roots in Chinese fables. Lamb is not often associated with Chinese cuisine, but in the north the weather can get very cold, therefore lamb is much more commonly used in the cuisine, than in the south. Therefore this dish and its story is very much a part of the Northern Chinese culture and its identity.
Folklore has it, that a young shepherd was cooking a lamb broth. His friend joined him for dinner after spending the day fishing as they had no way to store the fish to keep it fresh, they added it to the broth. The result was a completely different flavour profile, producing umami and the recipe grew into a tradition.
Maybe more importantly, this combination of fish and lamb lead to a new Chinese word. Xian in Chinese means ‘fresh’ and is made up of two characters – the left hand side is the character a fish, and the right is a sheep.
This soup is an excellent sharing starter, available at both lunch and dinner, from our a la carte menu.