Welcome to The Hot Dish, a behind the scenes look at the making of the dishes of the moment.
[All photos by Nick Solares]
"I am using French technique in producing a Chinese dish" says chef David Waltuck of élan, when asked to describe the process of creating General Tso's sweetbreads. "I have been into Chinese food for a really long time. Over the years I tried to incorporate those flavors. At Chanterelle, we had a dish called sweetbreads with caramelized leeks and orange" he continues, "but we called it general tso's sweetbreads in the kitchen." While that particular dish was essentially a deconstruction of the classic, Waltuck sees the version at élan as a more elemental and faithful recreation. It didn't hurt that there was a wok already in the kitchen when the chef took over the restaurant space, allowing him to properly stir fry the dish.
But Waltuck, true to his word, uses plenty of French technique — he combines a mirepoix of ginger, onion, and carrots with a gastrique made with rice vinegar and orange juice. He then mixes that with veal stock, spikes it with chiles, and reduces the whole thing down to make the sauce. Then he employs classic stir fry technique, cooking the ingredients separately and then bringing them together at the end to glaze them with the sauce. The final flourish is a garnish of scallions and fresh chiles.
Watch Waltuck make General Tso's sweetbreads: