Yun Yook

This dish is derived from an ancient Cantonese method of steaming young wood pigeon.YunYook (run-youk) is traditionally served with vermicelli lightly boiled in chicken stock. Chilli oil can be obtained from Chinese delicatessens.

2 tablespoons chilli oil

4 slices streaky bacon

4 young wood pigeons, oven-ready

12 vine leaves

4 oz. sultanas or seedless raisins, soaked in cold water for 30 minutes and drained 8 mint leaves 10 pickling (pearl) onions, peeled, boiled for 5 minutes and drained 8 oz. button mushrooms, wiped clean

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Preheat the oven to moderate 350 F (Gas Mark 4, 180 C).

In a medium-sized frying-pan, heat the oil over moderate heat. When the oil is hot, add the bacon and fry, stirring occasionally, for 6 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

Place the pigeons on a flat working surface. Lay one bacon slice over the breast of each pigeon. Cover each pigeon with 3 vine leaves so that they overlap and enclose the pigeons, then secure them with cocktail sticks or trussing string.

Place the pigeons in a casserole large enough to hold them in one layer.

Add the sultanas or seedless raisins, mint leaves, onions and mushrooms. Pour over the oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover the casserole and place it in the centre of the oven. Cook for 25 to 30 minutes or until the pigeons are tender when pierced with the point of a sharp knife.

Remove the casserole from the oven, remove the cocktail sticks or string, and sprinkle over the parsley. Serve imme- diately, straight from the casserole.

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