Yu Bo is the chef-owner of Yu’s Family Kitchen (yu jia chufang), in the Sichuanese capital, Chengdu, which he runs with his wife, Dai Shuang. In his small restaurant with only six private rooms, Yu offers grand banquets of as many as 40 courses which revives the grand style of banqueting in the earlier years of China before communism. The Mandarins once kept private chefs in their courtyard houses and they prepare a daily spread of extravagance truly fit for a king.
Fuchsia Dunlop presents a short segment on the various techniques Yu Bo uses that are very common in fine Chinese cooking.
The one thing that stands out most is probably Dai Shuang’s (Yu Bo’s wife) porcupine buns, where each spike is carefully cut out of the dough using small metal shears.
Watch how intricate the preparation of such a delicate dim sum can be! Each bean paste filled bun is then steamed and served individually in lacquered bowls.
Another small highlight was Yu Bo’s demonstration on the “lucky shaped” potatoes in one of his appetizers:
The potatoes are then deep fried and arranged on a small plate.
Yu Bo does not cook with a fancy set of chef’s knives. They all use the standard meat cleavers in all their preparation and his skills to manipulate the one knife versatilely is quite impressive.
Other dishes that sparked interest included:
Braided “hair pin” garlic shoots, Knotted gourd slivers, and fanned broccoli steams
“Anyone can make a delicacy out of lobster of abalone. But I like to show it can be done with the most common ingredients” – Yu Bo
I was very glad that people in Sydney could be exposed to the a side of Chinese food that was unknown. There are years and years of culinary history that are still undiscovered and unexplored with the Western palate, and it’s only a matter of time before everyone realizes that it’s just not all about Golden Century! The Chinese eating culture is incredibly refined, but a lot of the techniques and rituals have yet to travel into Western countries.
(Excuse that horrible shot of Matt Preston) Inside the blue and white jar is filled with what appears to be Chinese calligraphy brushes, but the bristles at the end of the bamboo handles are actually made from a fine flaky pastry with hair like folds that conceal a minced beef filling. You dip one into the “ink dish” of sauce, and eat the “brush” part. Yu said he chose a red sauce as the “ink” because only in the old days, only the Emperor was allowed to write with red ink.
Matt Preston: tender enough for Yu Bo to braise and devour