BUN FIGHT

We’ve all heard of car­rot cake, maybe even parme­san

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - On Sunday - Dumplings share DNA with savoury dough­nuts; find recipes such as An­drew Mccon­nell’s Sichuan pork dumplings at de­li­cious.com.au.

@mattscra­vat @Mattscra­vat

IT WAS one of the more un­com­fort­able mo­ments of the last Masterchef sea­son when queen of the kitchen Nigella Law­son roundly dis­missed my claim of the ex­is­tence and va­lid­ity of savoury dough­nuts in pretty much the same way a med­i­cal spe­cial­ist might dis­miss the cu­ra­tive ben­e­fits of the lat­est food-blog­ger fad – whether that be co­conut fat, milk this­tle or shi­la­jit.

Smart­ing from her put down, I’ve slowly built a dossier over the en­su­ing months, mut­ter­ing to my­self like Mul­der with his X-files – “I know they’re out there” – about the ex­is­tence of the savoury dough­nut and its un­ques­tioned de­li­cious­ness. To­day, I open th­ese files to you.

Over the past few years the savoury dough­nut has be­come quite a thing here in Aus­tralia. Along­side the rise of dumpling shops we’ve seen the emer­gence of reimag­ined ver­sions of dim sum such as the steamed kimichi and bar­be­cue pork buns at Bris­bane’s Lit­tle Val­ley from the team be­hind Rick Shores in Burleigh Heads and the steamed wal­laby-tail buns served with David­son’s plum sauce that have been on Kylie Kwong’s menu since the early days of Billy Kwong.

While th­ese have some shared DNA with the new gen­er­a­tion of savoury dough­nuts, I think that to be truly part of the move­ment, they need to be fried or baked, like the fried pork belly-filled dough­nuts with chilli sam­bal that Emma Mccaskill serves at The Pot in Ade­laide, or the ro­tat­ing se­lec­tion of savoury-stuffed dough­nuts (ham and cheese, smoked brisket) at Matt Moran’s rooftop bar Smoke at Syd­ney’s Baranga­roo House.

Our Syd­ney re­viewer, An­thony Huckstep, raves about the blood-sausage pie at Poly, the hot new wine bar in Surry Hills from the Ester team. Hav­ing tried it on his rec­om­men­da­tion I can con­firm that it’s suit­ably deca­dent and de­li­cious, and should have hon­orary sta­tus as a savoury dough­nut. Else­where in Syd­ney, the highly praised king prawn beignets have dis­ap­peared from the menu at Bistro Rex and Eastern sub­urbs fans are pray­ing they re­turn soon.

Down in Mel­bourne, our re­viewer, Dan Stock, reck­ons the orig­i­nal meat dough­nut ap­peared at Dex­ter in Pre­ston, where sticky beef brisket fills a clas­sic dough­nut that’s dusted in sugar and smoked pa­prika and served with a cap­sicum rel­ish. This trail­blazer has been joined by some equally tasty chums such as the pork and gruyère beauty at Hell of the North in Fitzroy, and per­haps Mel­bourne’s meat dough­nut of the mo­ment, the bun filled with wagyu ren­dang and served with pick­led radish and fer­mented sam­bal at hot new Sunda in the CBD.

Of course, I shouldn’t over­look the scal­lop and louka­mades (the famed dough­nuts of Greece) dish that Ge­orge Calom­baris used to have on the menu in the early days of the old Press Club. And one of the open­ing snacks right now at The Press Club’s more re­cent and smaller in­car­na­tion is the hot and very light salt and vine­gar louka­mades served to swipe through tara­masalata and salmon pearls. At a re­cent food fes­ti­val in Pre­to­ria, mean­while, Ge­orge in­tro­duced South Africans to the joys of a savoury dough­nut stuffed with wilde­beest. It was ap­par­ently de­li­cious.

And no sur­vey of Mel­bourne’s savoury dough­nut scene would be com­plete with­out men­tion­ing Su­per­nor­mal’s pan-fried spicy wagyu buns.

Then there was the lob­ster burger served in a dough­nut in­stead of a bun at Mel­bourne’s Mam­moth, an in­ter­net and brunch sen­sa­tion and one of a num­ber of places around the world try­ing to con­vince us that if Ital­ian bom­boloni or chur­ros with choco­late sauce are dough­nuts to break the day, then a savoury ver­sion was, if any­thing, more valid.

Ku­dos, then, to CREAM in the ocean­side Ade­laide sub­urb of Brighton, which serves a dough­nut sand­wich rammed with egg, ba­con, cheese and a potato rösti (with op­tional ex­tra fried chicken – re­spect). There might be some salad in there some­where, but I’m not sure that’s all that rel­e­vant to most peo­ple who or­der it.

SAVOURY DOUGH­NUT TRA­DI­TION

There is, of course, noth­ing new about the savoury dough­nut. The Si­cil­ians have had their an­chovy-filled zep­pole for gen­er­a­tions; the Viet­namese call their well-stuffed savoury dough­nuts banh ran man, and one of Korea’s great street-food dishes are hot­teok filled with any­thing from spiced mince or left­over bibim­bap to chilli-spiced glass noo­dles tossed with car­rots, chives and onions.

Add to this list the deep-fried dumplings of Can­tonese yum cha with their pork mince fill­ings and mochi-like chewy crusts re­lated to those sesame-coated Chi­nese jian dui and the buchi of the Philip­pines.

The fried man­tou bread served with chilli crab along East Coast Park­way in Sin­ga­pore, the sim­i­larly golden and airy banh tieu some­times served with pho in Hanoi or the crisp, puffy chur­ros-like youtiao sticks eaten alone or with a savoury con­gee rice por­ridge in Hong Kong are more ex­am­ples of types of dough­nut served in savoury sit­u­a­tions. Some of th­ese in­ter­na­tional dumplings are tra­di­tion­ally served at break­fast or brunch, too. So there!

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