In culinary circles there is always an exception: someone who is extra-special, someone who thinks differently and acts differently. In Belgium, this is Sang Hoon Degeimbre. Originally from Korea, Sang Hoon started his career as a sommelier. In 1997, he decided to start his own restaurant and don his first-ever chef’s whites. Three years later, he was awarded his first Michelin star, and in 2008, his second. His restaurant L’Air du Temps is in Liernu, in the province of Namur in the south of Belgium. It is a farm restaurant with 5-hectares of vegetable and herb gardens. Sang Hoon, is known for his molecular gastronomy. Sang Hoon explains: “Cookery is all about techniques, physics and chemistry, but the way I work, is always subsidiary to the raw ingredients not to the techniques. There is a difference between what the media says about me and what I actually stand for. For eight years, I have been growing my own fruit, vegetables and herbs, but the media doesn’t write about that. It is apparently not remarkable enough.” He applies this inherent philosophy on nature to veal as well. “I was once a butcher and still have a real passion for meat. I like to combine the veal I use with products from my surroundings. I smoke ribs of veal on the wood from my own cherry trees for example, and the parts I love most, are the parts that have the most muscle and collagen like the head and shoulders. But we mustn’t forget as chefs, that we should treat veal with care. It deserves the utmost respect.”
For the veal cheeks, reduce the red wine with the shallot and add the rest of the liquids and spices. For colour, brown the cheeks on both sides in a drop of oil and seal them in with the liquid, ready for the sous vide. Simmer in warm water at 66°C/150°F for 36 hours, cool and pull the meat apart. Peel the beetroot and slice thinly using a mandoline. Lay the slices over one another in a circle to create a cup, then fill with the meat and some of the juices, covering with a final slice of beetroot. For the coriander oil, blanch the fresh herbs in salt water for 3 minutes, then straight into ice-cold water and drain very well. Process the coriander with the oil in a Thermo blender for 20 minutes at 70°C/160°F, speed 8. Pour into a bowl, separating the oil from the sediment.
For the yoghurt, mix the ingredients and smoke for one hour in a smoker and season to taste with the coriander oil. For the kimchi paper, pour the ingredients into the Thermoblender and process for about 7 minutes at 70°C/160°F, speed 8. Cool and spread thinly onto baking parchment. Allow to dry in a drying chamber at 65°C/150°F. Place the beetroot bonbon in a shallow soup bowl and lean the kimchi paper up against it. Surround with shiso leaves and finish with the yoghurt and drops of coriander oil.
young shiso leaves, 1 crapaudine beet, cooked in ash.
For the veal cheeks
600g veal cheeks (washed), 25g chopped shallot, 115g red wine, 1 star anise, 2 cloves, crushed black pepper, 45g Worcestershire sauce, 2 juniper berries, 50g fond brun, 20g tomato brunoise, 4g tomato paste, 8g fresh garlic.
For the coriander oil
50g fresh coriander, 200g grapeseed oil.
For the smoked yoghurt
100g whole milk, 50g whole yoghurt, 2g salt.
For the kimchi paper
200g baechu kimchi, 75g water, 7.5g konnyaku (binding agent).
Generously season the rib with salt and pepper and brown well in a large pan. Cool and seal with the melted butter and quatre-épices for the sous vide. Continue cooking for 90 minutes in warm water at 56°C/130°F. Cool again and re-heat in the oven for 7 minutes at 200°C/390°F before serving. For the liquorice meringues, beat the egg whites and powder with the liquorice paste, ink, salt and cream of tartar. Add the sugar and beat into stiff peaks. Spread on a silicone mat and dry for about 3 to 4 hours in a drying chamber at 65°C/150°F. For the sauce reduce the verjus with the shallot, add the Tonka bean, the liquorice paste and the fond brun and reduce by 2/3. Add cold cubes of butter and season to taste with salt and pepper. For the mousseline, peel the potatoes and cook in salted water, then cool, dry, and rub them through a tamis. Blanch the cabbage leaves, drain and chop finely. Mix with the chopped garlic and add to the potatoes. Add butter and season with salt to taste. Place the warm rib of veal on a beautiful cherry wood board, add some pieces of smouldering charcoal and cover with a glass cloche. Allow to smoke for a few minutes, slice the meat in front of the guest and serve with the rest of the ingredients. Garnish with sprigs of ice plant and winter purslane.
For the rib of veal
1 rib of veal approximate weight 1kg incl. bone, melted butter, quatre-épices, wood from a cherry tree, ice plant, winter purslane.
For the liquorice meringue
170g egg white, 3g powdered egg white, 30g licorice paste, 8g cephalopod ink (inkfish), 1.7g cream of tartar, 25g sugar.
For the liquorice root sauce
2l fond brun, 100g chopped shallot, 200g verjus, 5g ground Tonka bean, 200g butter, 60g licorice root paste.
For the cabbage mousseline
200g potatoes, 100g green cabbage, 1 clove of garlic, 3g salt, 60g butter.
Season half of the sweetbreads with salt and flour lightly. Pan-fry until golden, cut into small cubes and set aside. Sweat the shallots, add the stock and thicken with agar-agar. Place the pieces of sweetbread in a rectangular frame, pour a thin layer of liquid on top and allow to stiffen. For the emulsion, blend the black garlic and the vinegar in a blender until smooth, add the egg white and emulsify with oil. For the mousseline, bake the artichoke in its skin, in the oven at 180°C/355°F. Slice in half, remove the fleshy fruit and mix with the water and butter in the Thermoblender at 70°C/160°F, speed 8, until smooth. Season to taste and pour into small squeezable bottles. For the pearl onions, bring water, vinegar and sugar to the boil, add the onions (washed) and allow to boil for 10 minutes. Just before serving, cut the onions in half and brown the flat sides in a pan until golden. Fry the rest of the sweetbreads and the langoustines in a non-stick pan until golden brown and season with salt and pepper. Place a slice of jellied sweetbread on a plate and arrange the cubes of pan-fried sweetbreads and langoustines on top. Spoon the black garlic emulsion and the artichoke mousseline in between and garnish with slices of raw beetroot, pearl onions and nasturtiums.
4 beautiful langoustines, 2-4 nasturtiums, slices of Chioggia beetroot.
For the sweetbreads
300g sweetbreads, 100g veal stock, 1.5g agar-agar, 20g chopped shallot, flour.
For the black garlic emulsion
50g black garlic, 100g grape seed oil, 20g black garlic vinegar, 30g egg white.
For the Jerusalem artichoke mousseline
300g Jerusalem artichoke, 50g butter, 30g water.
For the pearl onions
10 pearl onions, 50g sugar, 100g white wine vinegar, 150g water.