It’s yangmei season. I didn’t know what this little fruit was until a friend bought me a box. We sat in the sun and ate until our lips stained blood red. A little investigating, and I discovered these berries are the fruit of the Chinese bayberry tree. Sometimes called wax berries or bayberries, they taste like a cross between raspberries and pomegranates. Tart and juicy, they bear seeds similar to those of cherries.
Since I was on my own again this weekend, I wanted to let my hair down in the kitchen. I was free to experiment. The only person I needed to feed was me, and I didn’t even care if it worked or not. I just wanted to turn my kitchen into a studio of sorts and simply create whatever came to mind. I knew I wanted to make something with yangmei. The other rule I gave myself was that the ingredients had to already be in my fridge. No big shop. No big spend. Simply create three courses with a box of yangmei and a few leftovers.
Course 1: Chorizo with Slaw and Yangmei Mayonnaise
My first course (if you can call it that) was pan fried chorizo topped with a red cabbage slaw with chipotle, yangmei mayo.
This didn’t really do much for me. Maybe because I wanted more of it. The mayo, however, did marry the tang and spice nicely. I could see turning this into a full fledged slaw that might go well with fried chicken.
Course 2: Steak and “Blood Eggs”
For the second course, I came up with “steak and blood egg”. Earlier, I had separated an egg for my dessert. I was looking at the yolk, and it inspired me to make a “blood” white out of a yangmei and balsamic reduction. I made a yangmei jus by reducing the fruit flesh with water, a little ginger, and a pinch of sugar.
After straining the solids, I reserved some jus for my dessert, then reduced the remainder with equal parts balsamic vinegar. Once the reduction was thick and sticky, I had my “blood” for the yolk. I steamed the yolk separately which I had to do twice as the first time I overcooked it.
I plated the reduction and yolk alongside leftover strip steak which was sliced and tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper. Looking at it, I wasn’t sure whether I had gone crazy, but after tasting it, I was relieved to find out it actually worked.
Course 3: Mascarpone Ice Cream with Yangmei Jus
With a biscuit cutter, a bit of jus, and a fresh yangmei later, and it actually turned out to be a respectable dessert. Perhaps I will takes these little experiments further. Perhaps they will just stay as one offs. You definitely don’t have to delve this deep into yangmei to enjoy them. As I can guarantee my next box will be bought simply to just eat.