Turkey has traditionally been the roast to serve on Thanksgiving Day. In the United States, the day just wouldn’t be complete without a stately, golden brown roasted turkey on the table, served with cranberry sauce, giblet gravy, mashed potatoes and perhaps pumpkin pie or apple pie for dessert.
We here in the Philippines sometimes try to recreate this feast, myself being guilty of such colonial mentality, having occasionally served roast turkey with all the trimmings to friends and family over a span of nearly two decades.
There are alternatives, however. Maybe this year we can chuck convention, give turkey a much-needed rest and feast instead on… roast goose.
Roast goose is a much loved Hong Kong specialty. Walk around the streets of Hong Kong and chances are, you’ll see several restaurants with roasted geese hanging from meat hooks, looking invitingly juicy and tender. Many of the geese come from China, bred specially for the purpose and roasted painstakingly with expertise by practiced chefs.
You don’t have to go to Hong Kong for a taste of the best roasted goose. At Marco Polo Ortigas’ Lung Hin restaurant, the golden goose is back, and will be available until mid-December (or longer, depending on the demand).
Prepared by award-winning chef Billy Cheong, the roast goose takes hours to cook, requiring the skill of a master and the patience of Job. Luckily chef Billy has both.
Belonging to a family of food connoisseurs and master chefs, he said he was “born in the kitchen. Food is in my DNA.” Roast goose has been a specialty of his family for generations.
It takes one-and-a-half days to prepare roast goose, chef Billy told a group of media people during lunch. First it is marinated for eight to 12 hours in salt, sugar, wine and a blend of Chinese herbs.
Then the goose takes a “sauna bath” and is poached at 15-20 seconds intervals to get rid of the grease. It is afterwards cooked in water with rice vinegar after which it is hung for a few hours to dry. It is only after these steps that the goose is roasted for 45 minutes to one hour.
The result is well worth the effort. The goose we had at Lung Hin was every bit as ethereal as the long, tedious roasting methods would suggest: the crisp, mahogany brown skin with its crisscross pattern of triangles, the pliant delicate flesh with a thin layer of fat, all arranged over drippings suggestive of juiciness and tenderness.
A velvety plum sauce was served on the side, its fruitiness a counterpoint to the goose’s intense flavor.
As marvelous as the roast goose was, we also enjoyed the other dishes in the set menu: braised seafood with peach jelly soup, made from fruit gathered from peach trees in Shanghai; steamed garoupa with shredded pork and dried mandarin orange peel in black bean sauce; and the obligatory fried rice with diced shrimps, sweet corn and diced mushrooms.
We were surprised to learn that the enormous fat crabs served with pork belly were actually locally sourced—Hong Kong, in fact, imports many of its crabs from the Philippines, according to chef Billy.
Still it was the golden goose that was the star of the table. “Enjoy whatever part of the goose you like,” said chef Billy. Just for fun, he even sliced the goose’s head to reveal the brain, which someone pronounced as being “very dense” and “a cross between liver and balut penoy.”
So—this Thanksgiving, will it be roast turkey or roast goose? If you want to be traditional, pick the turkey. But for a daring, unconventional feast, go for the goose.
Roast goose is available at Lung Hin at Marco Polo Ortigas, Manila, and can be ordered à la carte (halves or quarters). Call 7207777.