This dish is a poor attempt at a Yunnan dish I tried at a lovely Yunnan restaurant. Yunnan food is my favourite Chinese food because it utilises the most colourful and fragrant ingredients, jasmine flowers and roses and all sorts. Yunnan is one of the few places in China where you can eat authentic local cheese too, and I think the closest to it I’ve ever tried is Halloumi, but it’s not at all similar really. One typical sweet and salty dish is grilled Yunnan cheese stuffed with sweetened rose petals. It’s a little too sweet for my liking though, but the combination of roses and cheese is a novel and delicious one for me, so I whipped up a quick (less sweet) variation. Serves 2 as a side dish or snack.
Halloumi cheese (or any other tough cheese), 200g
Fresh coriander (or any other herbs), a handful
Dried red rose buds, 20
garlic cloves, minced, 3
Raw local honey (optional, only if you have a sweet tooth), 1-2 tbsp
Green caper berries, 2 tbsp
Fresh ginger, minced, 1 nob
Lemon, juiced, 1
Sweet or spicy paprika, ½ tsp
Red chilli powder, 1 tbsp
Ground cardamom,½ tsp
Extra-virgin olive oil, a drizzle
Sea salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
1. Soak the dried rose petals in warm water for a few minutes.
2. Strain them and save the water for later.
3. Add all other ingredients (except the honey) to the blender alongside the soaked rose buds.
4. Blend all ingredients together until smooth, adding more olive oil or rose petal water if necessary.
5. Set the salted jam aside for later.
6. Slice, season and grill the Halloumi until golden.
7. Serve with fresh coriander or other green herbs when ready.
Add more honey if you prefer a sweeter taste or more capers if you prefer a saltier taste. Substitute the green herbs with sautéed spinach if you prefer a hot dish.