This spectacular roast ribeye is a spin on beggar’s chicken, a classic Chinese dish that was traditionally wrapped in lotus leaves and baked in clay. “The story goes that a beggar stole a chicken and hid it by burying it underground,” says chef Brandon Jew from San Francisco’s Mr Jiu’s. “When he came back it was a juicy, juicy chicken.”
A salt crust performs the same function as clay: slowing down the cooking, sealing in moisture and gently imparting salinity and flavour, almost like an infusion. “The juices have nowhere to go,” says Brandon. “The dish keeps basting itself.”
The ribeye is seasoned with nori before wrapping and baking, and the egg white casing is flavoured with lemongrass tea. “We’re mixing land and sea elements, layering umami, using the Chinese philosophy of building exciting flavour on the palate,” says Brandon.
Fermented tea and blackened scallions are added after carving, bringing bitterness that contracts with the rich meat. “We experience the quality of the fat because the ribeye isn’t caramelised, the fat isn’t rendered,” says Brandon. “You can really taste how velvety it is. To me, it’s about accentuating textures as well as building flavours.”
600g (20 oz) approx. Westholme bone-in ribeye
1/2 cup egg whites
450g (1 lb) kosher salt
3 tbsp lemongrass tea
1 dried lotus leaf, soaked to rehydrate for about 1 hr
1 bunch scallion greens
60g (2 oz) black trumpet mushrooms
2 shallots, in small dice
Neutral oil, for cooking
30g (1 oz) yuba (tofu skin), cut into squares
60g (2 oz) fermented Dragon Well green tea leaves
2 tbsp charcoal flaked salt
3 tbsp roasted black sesame seeds
Season ribeye with salt, pepper and nori crumb, then store in refrigerator overnight.
Whip egg whites to soft peaks then mix with salt and lemongrass tea.
Wrap ribeye with lotus leaf and pack with egg white mixture.
Roast in a convention oven at 200C / 400F for 1 hour. Place scallions on a sheet tray and add to oven.
Pull out blackened scallions, lower the oven temperature to 175C / 350F and roast wagyu for another 30 minutes, approx.
Use a thermometer to check internal temperature. When it’s 46C / 115F, remove wagyu from oven and let rest for 20 minutes. When internal temperature reaches 49C / 120F, crack salt and unwrap beef.
Blend burnt scallions to a powder in a Vitamix or similar.
Sauté black trumpet mushrooms with shallot and oil.
Mix in a bowl with yuba and fermented tea leaves.
Carve ribeye to serve, top with yuba mixture and garnish with charcoal salt, scallion ash and black sesame.