A heroic feast

By Mike Peters ( China Daily ) Updated: 2015-12-04 08:03:56

A heroic feast

The chef Christoph Zoller

"British food is about much more than fish and chips," says Liu, who is a culinary ambassador for Britain where he trained and worked at many top restaurants, including under Gordon Ramsay, whose restaurant empire now includes an outpost in Hong Kong.

Ramsay's beef Wellington, in fact, has been called the "most infamous dish" from his Hell's Kitchen television show, partly because of it's gorgeous appearance, partly because it's been downloaded from his website thousands of times, and partly because the most-feared words on his stage set are: "Who f-d up the Wellingtons?"

It's a real challenge to produce beef Wellington that is both beautiful and tasty, which is why it has become a Christmas favorite, a time when folks find more time to spend in the kitchen.

Traditionally, seared filet mignon is smothered in a whole-grain mustard and wrapped in layers of salty prosciutto, a herbed crepe, duxelles (mushrooms that have been pulverized into a paste), and puff pastry. During the winter holidays, spices like allspice and ginger are sometimes added to enhance the flavor.

The whole package is then baked until the crust crisps up and the meat reaches medium-rare perfection.

Online, Ramsay concedes that the preparation is "probably a little advanced for a beginner, but it's a meal fit for a King (or a Queen)".

In Beijing, Zoller and his team are happy to take the trouble, and will be serving up the dish throughout the winter. (Due to the prep time required, it's best to request it when you make the reservation-at least two hours before arriving.)

If you are wondering about the name "beef Wellington", it wasn't exactly created to commemorate the British war hero. By the time Arthur Wellesley, the first duke of Wellington, became famous, meat baked in pastry was well-known in English cuisine, Leah Hyslop writes in The Telegraph. Filet de boeuf in croute (fillet of beef in pastry) was even more established in France, and the writer suggests "beef Wellington" might have been "a timely patriotic rebranding of a trendy continental dish".

We'll give the last word to another critic, who writes: "This dish has nothing to do with that splendid hero, the Duke of Wellington; it was invented for a civic reception in Wellington, New Zealand, but it is a splendid addition to any party."

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If you go

The Cut restaurant

Fairmont Beijing, 8 Yong An Dong Li, at Jianguomen Wai Avenue, Chaoyang district, Beijing. 010-8507-3617.

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