Features 2 minutes 29 October 2020

Tin Lung Heen’s Chef Paul Lau On Reinventing Cantonese Cuisine with Australian Wagyu

Chef de cuisine Paul Lau Ping Lui of two-MICHELIN-starred Cantonese restaurant Tin Lung Heen tells us how an impressive first encounter with Westholme's wagyu beef inspired him to push the boundaries of culinary tradition.

video Cantonese beef

Each time a serving of Wok-fried Wagyu Beef with Asparagus and Minced Garlic (pictured above) is placed on Tin Lung Heen's dinner table, it immediately draws pause. Its clean and modern presentation captures the diner's attention while the glistening cubes of beef, enveloped in a luscious sauce, captivates with its smokey aroma and its tender and juicy texture — making it a dish to savour. To many, this is a dish representative of the two-MICHELIN-starred restaurant's usual high standards, but for its chef de cuisine Paul Lau, the dish's creator, there’s a deeper level of significance to this creation: It is a showcase of how he is able to challenge the boundaries of traditional Cantonese cooking through the use of Australian wagyu beef.

"This wagyu beef dish may look like an ordinary dish but we have changed the way the beef is traditionally cut, by dicing it into one-inch cubes. It’s a new attempt for us," chef Lau says.

Pushing the boundaries through experimentation

Chef Lau, who has been in the trade for more than 40 years, explains that prior to discovering the Australian wagyu beef, none of the beef he had previously used was suitable to be cut into cubes. Dicing the beef gives the meat an excellent mouthfeel, but doing so with most types of beef would result in a tough texture. If he wanted to cut the beef into cubes, he was only limited to braising them. However, once chef Lau discovered the existence of Westholme wagyu and its flexibility, he was able to expand his space for creative experimentation.

Dicing beef into one-inch cubes is a new attempt for chef Lau.
Dicing beef into one-inch cubes is a new attempt for chef Lau.

“Wagyu is an elevated version of beef that matches the positioning of Tin Lung Heen. When I was searching for the right kind of wagyu beef, I sourced different cuts of different breeds from a variety of countries and personally sampled them. That was then I came across Westholme wagyu. It is juicy and tender, but not overly fatty, thus I believe it would suit the taste of Hongkongers," chef Lau shares.

He has been using this wagyu since Tin Lung Heen opened in 2011, and the beef has become a menu staple throughout the restaurant's many milestones, including when the restaurant clinched its two MICHELIN stars for the first time in 2013 and its ninth year anniversary this year. 

The tender and juicy texture of Westholme's Australian wagyu, MBS 6/7 left a deep impression on chef Lau.
The tender and juicy texture of Westholme's Australian wagyu, MBS 6/7 left a deep impression on chef Lau.

The Australian Westholme wagyu, MBS 6/7, that Tin Lung Heen is using is brought to Hong Kong by Angliss Hong Kong. Westholme has been at the forefront of wagyu breeding in Australia, pairing a herd of unrivalled provenance with their own Northern Australian Mitchell breed. With pristine lands and passionate people, they aim to set new benchmarks in provenance, quality, care and taste, all the way from paddock to plate.

Chef Lau fondly remembers the first time he came across this wagyu beef. He was so impressed by its tenderness that he was inspired to dice it into one-inch cubes. “Westholme wagyu is so tender that it can be served in large, diced pieces to offer a new way to enjoy beef. For me, an inch is the ideal size. If we slice it too thin, it lacks mouthfeel; too thick, the centre may still remain raw."

"When cooking this wagyu, I would cook it till it’s 70 or 80 per cent done and then serve it to my guests, so that the meat would be perfectly done by the time it reaches them,” Lau adds.

Chef Lau cooks this Australian wagyu through wok-frying to preserve its juicy qualities.
Chef Lau cooks this Australian wagyu through wok-frying to preserve its juicy qualities.

Delivering a brand new experience

This wagyu dish has become of chef Lau's favourite creations — and one he frequently recommends. “Now that we've discovered this Australian wagyu, we can provide our diners with a new experience, and a different way of enjoying beef,” Lau says with delight. He also finds the packaging standards of the wagyu are high and its temperature management is being taken seriously, which gives him more confidence in the brand.

Chef Lau never seeks out inspiration intentionally.
Chef Lau never seeks out inspiration intentionally.

Apart from continuing to use this wagyu beef, he'll also continue on his quest for the finest ingredients.

“I don't really look for inspiration. Once I have the right ingredients, the experience will become intuition, and this intuition tells me how to bring out the best of the ingredients," says chef Lau. 

This article was written by Mandy Li and translated by Tang Pin-Ji. Click here to read the original article.


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