One of the more symbolic food investigations I undertook in 2009 was the search for the perfect representation of both Australia and Spain, As I am an Australian living and working in Spain,
My tests took me all around the many options available from both countries but I settled with the most symbolic ingredient from each of the countries…………. Kangaroo from Australia and Jamon Iberico from Spain!
The evolution spanned about 6 months until I was happy with the result. When looking back through my test photos I realized how varied the direction was but how the vision was the same the whole way through.
The first picture you see before is the first result and the concept in it’s most pure state. It focused on the strengths and weaknesses of each product and the idea of using one ingredient to compensate the weaknesses of another.
Kangaroo is a very strong flavored meat which is extremely high in protein but has no fat, this gives it a very unrefined flavor and lacks that “round” flavor and satiety which comes with fatty products. You can only cook Kangaroo to rare to get the best results as it is otherwise tough if you overcook it due to the lack of fat.
Jamon fat is used a lot in Spanish cooking, it has an extremely rich flavor but is a little hard to stomach for non Spanish diners as it is pure fat.
So to combine the 2 would give us Jamon fat in a setting where it can be enjoyed and Kangaroo that can be rounded with the aid of the Jamon fat, plus the fat actually tones down the very harsh flavor of the kangaroo.
So I had the idea, now to try and make it a reality.
The first picture as above is a loin of Kangaroo which I opened and inserted a sheet of Jamon Fat, I then fused and closed it with the help of Transglutaminase and the pressure of cling film to mold it. The idea was to have a “Kangaroo kobe” effect which would be served hot like a steak and would melt in your mouth. It worked quite well but not as good as I envisioned.
Next I sliced both the kangaroo and the and the Jamon fat at the exact same width and stacked it up alternating between fat and meat, this was also stuck together with TG. I then froze it so it could be sliced into a carpacio.
As you can see in this picture the idea of the carpacio is starting to take shape, but it still was not great…………………..
Yes I agree! Pretty messy, but still a work in progress! Here I was trying to demonstrate the difference between the cooked and raw, plus now the additional flavors were starting to develop. Japanese sour plums, Tarragon, Beetroot reduction, Gingerbread croutons spiced with 5 spice.
Here is the more obvious comparison between cooked and raw but still very messy and too spread out!
Ahhhhhhh, now we are talking! Here is where the roll started to take shape which would eventually be the final idea (obviously with a lot more work needed! Here the idea of heating the inside with a blowtorch then flavoring it with hidden flavors came about.
Wow, what a journey and a result I am now very happy with! It satisfies all the original goals and is a true representation of both our countries. The roll shape is the final one, but the inside is filled with Kangaroo tar tar which is treated as a traditional French tar tar (Egg yolk, Cornichons, Capers, Onions, Mustard, olive oil). It is warmed to about 40 degrees so the flavors open up but the color remains the same. The crouton is a whole Baguette slice which gets cooked in a special mold I had made for this task, it is seasoned with some amazing Spanish extra Virgin olive oil and sea salt. There are some different points put along the crouton so the flavor profile changes with every bite.
So the next time you go to a restaurant and you or your guests feel the need to insult the food you have received, spare a thought for the work which has gone into preparing it. Perhaps the reason you do not like something is because you either don’t understand it or it is not to your liking.
The Kangamon is a very simple dish in concept but to take it from a good concept to a great dish takes months of hard work and an unwaivering confidence through all the errors and bad results to eventually reach the goal of a dish you are happy with.