Veal sweetbreads, soured and grilled

Veal sweetbreads, soured and grilled

Green Pickled Peaches
Chris Chen

The flavourings in this dish are derived from the traditional Malaysian assam of fish. I now wonder what would result if the spicy and strong-flavoured sauce was used as a seasoning paste and grilled?

For the assam paste


Quantity Ingredient
4 candlenuts
10 red asian shallots
2 red chillies, deseeded
8 garlic cloves, peeled
1.5cm piece of young ginger
1/2 teaspoon blachan, roasted
1cm piece of cassia, ground to powder
2 cloves, ground to powder
1 1/2 tablespoons peanut oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons tamarind pulp mixed with 250 ml water

For the veal sweetbreads

Quantity Ingredient
500g veal sweetbreads, soaked overnight in water
2 banana leaves, (excessive, but allows for mistakes)


  1. Make the assam paste:
  2. Grind the candlenuts, shallots, chillies, garlic, ginger and roasted blachan to a fine paste. Mix in the ground cassia and cloves. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium–high. Fry the paste until it separates and there’s no longer any taste of raw shallot or garlic. Season with the sugar and add salt to taste, letting it colour slightly in the residual heat. Strain the tamarind water, add to the paste and cook until it is rather thick. Season with additional salt so that it tastes slightly saltier than a normal sauce (it’s to be used as a seasoning). Leave to cool completely
  3. Prepare the sweetbreads:
  4. Drain the sweetbreads. Put in a pot of cold water, bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the pot and, when cool enough to handle, clean away the membrane and other unpleasant things. Put on a plate, cover with another plate and load this with weights (tins of tomatoes are good). This is to prevent a spongy unpleasant texture. Leave for at least 3 hours in the fridge. When ready to grill, cut the sweetbreads into 3 cm squares. Mix the assam paste through the pieces of sweetbread to ensure they are thoroughly coated.
  5. Cut the banana leaves into 15 x 8 cm rectangles and an equal number of 5 cm squares. Put a piece of sweetbread on a banana rectangle. Fold each of the long sides towards the centre, place a square over the sweetbread and then turn each of the shorter sides of the rectangle over towards the centre. Using kitchen string, tie up neatly, as you would a parcel. Continue in this way until you have used up all the sweetbreads and cut banana leaves. Preheat the grill to medium–low. Grill the parcels for 20–25 minutes, turning them frequently. Serve hot straight from the grill as a snack or canapé.
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