On Tuesday the 19th of December I dined at Andrea Berton’s in Milan, which offers the best view you can get after opening in the new neighbourhood of Melchiorre Gioia. I was intrigued by the sequence of the courses. First the perfect Risotto with capers, lime and coffee, then the surprising Seafood passatelli with cooked and raw calamari in calamari stock, a seeming pasta-dish, given the passatelli were the result of a calamari distortion.

Then came the Roasted veal sweetbreads, with purée of smoked potatoes, lentils and red onion, after which I wondered if we were to skip a course made with real pasta, given we had now reached the realm of meat. This while the reshuffling of the cards was impeccable. It was only then, and before the Venison with fox grape and celeriac, that Kamut Spaghetti with wild herbs and sea snails appeared. Intense bitter notes, yet perfect on the palate, hardly too strong in their persistence. Plus the snails softened the bitterness. They were shelled: with Berton’s standards they cannot be served with their small shells.

A masterful dish that should be a first course, but is it still, when it’s served so late in the menu?

Paolo Marchi
Content by Gabriele Zanatta. Translated by Slawka G. Scarso

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Monograno Felicetti 

Newsletter 64 del 31 december 2017

Dear {{NOME}},

On Tuesday the 19th of December I dined at Andrea Berton’s in Milan, which offers the best view you can get after opening in the new neighbourhood of Melchiorre Gioia. I was intrigued by the sequence of the courses. First the perfect Risotto with capers, lime and coffee, then the surprising Seafood passatelli with cooked and raw calamari in calamari stock, a seeming pasta-dish, given the passatelli were the result of a calamari distortion.

Then came the Roasted veal sweetbreads, with purée of smoked potatoes, lentils and red onion, after which I wondered if we were to skip a course made with real pasta, given we had now reached the realm of meat. This while the reshuffling of the cards was impeccable. It was only then, and before the Venison with fox grape and celeriac, that Kamut Spaghetti with wild herbs and sea snails appeared. Intense bitter notes, yet perfect on the palate, hardly too strong in their persistence. Plus the snails softened the bitterness. They were shelled: with Berton’s standards they cannot be served with their small shells.

A masterful dish that should be a first course, but is it still, when it’s served so late in the menu?

Paolo Marchi
Content by Gabriele Zanatta. Translated by Slawka G. Scarso

Japan and a certain part of Italy that doesn’t fade


I’m just back from Tokyo. Every time this happens, I think of a quote by the great reporter Goffredo Parise. In “L’eleganza è frigida” he explained that as soon as you arrive in Japan, you think you know it all. But when you leave, you realise you knew nothing. It has happened this time too.

What I cannot understand is a contradiction that has to do with trattorie and osterie, which are very popular there. Whether under Italian or Japanese management, they always show a double side. On the one hand, the quality of the food is increasing sharply: the extraordinary culture of raw materials now influences pasta, for instance – there’s better selection and cooking.

On the other, some stereotypes from Italy’s past still endure: you can see it in every aspect of the dining room, from the mise en place to the dated décor, to the music in the background. So you have great food in an antiquated and caricature-style setting. I believe that as Italians we should be brave enough to break these archaic rules and convey not just our great products, but our capacity to thrill guests in a current way too.

PS: in the photo, fantastic spaghetti with sea urchins from Hokkaido by Luca Fantin in Tokyo, a restaurant that is a rare exception to what I said above.
Riccardo Felicetti

Antonello Colonna: private vices, public virtues


For decades, dry pasta was a private passion of Antonello Colonna’s, which never reached his official menus. «When I learnt to cook at Porta Rossa», says the patron chef from Open Colonna in Rome and Labico, «spaghetti and penne had completely disappeared from restaurants. Those were the years of Gualtiero Marchesi’s Open Raviolo. In 1983, at 27, I dined there 3 times in a row».

Initially, his (100% fresh) pasta dishes had names as long as the titles Lina Wertmüller gave to her films. For instance, Water and flour with sauce of ciocorione and wild fennel and duck ragout, a dish from 1985. In 2000, the blitz: «I decided to place the church back in the middle of the village: I organised an event in Piazza Colonna with Stefano Bonilli. Its name was "Cacio e pepe vs Sushi". Restaurants of the time had banished cacio e pepe. The success was incredible».

Yet in his menus, dry pasta still didn’t appear. Then came the years of filled pasta. Raviolo filled with trippa alla romana, Tortello of (and not “in”) broth and the famous Negativo di carbonara (in the photo), from 2001: the egg is in the filling. «Roman cuisine», he recalls today, «was in the filling. You had to uncover it».

The turning point arrived on the 8th of March 2016: «I met Riccardo Felicetti at Identità Milano. We had a chat and I thought it was time to experiment. I would win my reluctance to what I considered mostly something trendy». Since September, dry pasta prominently appears in the menu, both in Rome and Labico. And off the menu too. «I currently have two dishes: Smoked spaghetti with cannellini and white truffle and Spelt linguine with mushrooms and chestnuts». And here we stop as Colonna will present both recipes in his highly awaited lesson at Identità di Pasta, on Sunday 4th March 2018.

Yannick Alléno, unexpected cappelletti


«At Pavillon Ledoyen», say French Yannick Alléno and Italian Martino Ruggieri, respectively chef and chef adjoint in Paris, 3 Michelin stars «we use lots of pasta: pasta is a real treat for French people, we all love pasta and it is actually true in the whole world. I think that when our customers suddenly discover pasta in one of our dishes, it gives them a feeling of pleasure and warmth, like eating a generous pastry».

The point is the two chefs don’t serve it in a conventional way: «We transform it, shatter it, mix it to build something different; pasta is a fantastic material». The following recipe joins sardines, soles and cappelletti, served where you least expect it.

Unexpected fish soup
(Marinated sardines flavoured with a Dulce seaweed mayonnaise, red mullet on lime and olive oil crushed ice, sole “milk” blended with fish skin and cappelletti)

Recipe for 8 people

for the sardines

5 sardines
100 g red vinegar
100 g mineral water
50 g olive oil
10 g soy sauce
5 g flat-leaf parsley
Espelette chili pepper
Fleur de sel

Fillet the sardines. Take off the bones. Marinate the fillets in vinegar and mineral water for 10 minutes. Rinse them before sponging them on each side. Dice them and set aside in the fridge. In a bowl, blend the olive oil, the soy sauce, the chopped parsley, the Espelette chili pepper and the fleur de sel all together. Add the diced sardines to this mixture and leave to marinate for 30 minutes. Drain and set aside in the fridge.

for the sole skin
1 sole 600 to 700 g

Skin the sole, dry it in the oven at 90°C for 2 hours. Set aside for the final steps. Fillet the sole and keep 200 g for the cappelletti. Use the rest to make the sole Extraction®.

[[ima3]] For the cappelletti
200 g sole fillets
200 g liquid cream
270 g fine semolina
540 g flour type 00
7 egg yolks
1 egg
ascorbic acid

For the filling: mix the sole fillets with a pinch of salt, then sift before adding the liquid cream with the help of a spatula. For the dough: put the semolina with the flour, a pinch of salt and one of ascorbic acid in the beater’s beaker. Mix slowly and add the egg yolks and the whole egg. Set the dough aside for 12 hours, then roll it out so it’s 5 cm thick. Garnish it with the filling, then constitute the tortellini.

For the dulce seaweed mayonnaise

150 g sole reduction
200 g Dulce red seaweed Extraction®
250 g groundnut oil

Reduce the sole stock until you get a syrupy texture. Whisk and gradually pour the seaweed Extraction®. Make the mayonnaise with the groundnut oil.

For the red mullets

2 striped mullets
2 limes
olive oil

Fillet the mullets, then season them with the olive oil and the lime zests. Set aside in the fridge.

Finish and assembly
200 g sole Extraction® (sole milk)
1 lime
crushed ice
olive oil
fleur de sel, fine salt

Powder a part of the sole skin with the help of a Microplane. In a pan filled with boiling and salted water, cook the tortellini. In a bowl, place the diced sardines with the marinade, then cover with the seaweed mayonnaise. In a different bowl, pour the lukewarm sole Extraction®, then the tortellini and the powdered sole skin. In a separate bowl, arrange the sliced mullet on a crushed ice bed. Grate the lime on top and drizzle with olive oil. Present a Matcha whisk garnished with some sole skin powder on the sole skin.

Federico La Paglia’s pasta alla paolina


Pasta alla paolina is a poor dish from Sicilian – and mostly Palermitan – cuisine. Federico La Paglia, chef at Sikelaia in Milan, surprise of the year for the Guida ai ristoranti di Identità Golose adds white and green cauliflower: «I removed all the spices used in the original recipe», he says. «So it’s more delicate».

The idea: «My mum used to make it with Sicilian broccoli. I thought I could add it to the menu, using other varieties of cauliflower, saffron pistils in the cooking water and a sprinkle of Ragusano PDO cheese at the end, without changing the original recipe too much».

Broccoli and cauliflower are the main element, each with its flavour: «On the palate, you can notice the sweetness of the raisins and the white cauliflower, the tasty green cauliflower and the bitter Sicilian broccoli. The sapid anchovies and the delicately aromatic and spicy Ragusano PDO offer a perfect match».

Rigatoncini alla Paolina
Recipe for 4 people

320 g rigatoncini
500 g white cauliflower
500 g green cauliflower
500 g green broccoli
saffron pistils
100 g anchovies
100 g chopped onion
extra virgin olive oil
100 g breadcrumbs
100 g pine nuts
60 g sultana
100 g Ragusano PDO
pepper and salt

Take the broccoli and the two types of cauliflower, separate the tops from the trunk and cook the tops in three different pots in salted water for 9/10 minutes. Cook the trunk separately, in salted water. Once cooked, drain the cauliflower and only part of the green broccoli and the trunk. Blend in a Bimby processor, adding oil aromatised with onion until you get a smooth cream (it will be used as a base for the dish).

To make the aromatised oil: chop the white onion and stew it with oil and bay leaves, for around 25/30 minutes, adding lots of boiling water. Toast the pine nuts in a small pan. Soak the sultana in Passito di Pantelleria for around one hour, so it’s softer and tastier.

To make the pane atturrato (breadcrumbs), put oil, salt, pepper, a garlic clove, a tablespoon of tomato extract, the anchovies cut into small pieces into a pan and toast until golden. Add the saffron pistils and the rigatoncini to a separate pot of salted boiling water, and then toss them in the pan with the cauliflower and Sicilian broccoli. Turn off the heat and add grated Ragusano PDO, pepper, toasted pine nuts, sultanas and 2 tablespoons of oil.

Dishing out
The cream of green broccoli goes on the base of the dish. Add the pasta with a pastry-cutter, the sultanas, the white and green cauliflowers (warm them up in a pan with a drop of olive oil before adding them) and finally sprinkle the pane atturrato on top.

Della Salandra’s voyage to Sicily


The idea for this dish by Domenico Della Salandra, chef at Desinolento in Milan, came from a visit to Sicily two years ago: «I was walking in Ragusa when I was overwhelmed by the fresh scent of fruits. Once back in Milan, I started testing recipes until I got it right: I added the right amount of hot spices and sapidity thanks to bottarga di muggine».

Technically speaking, it’s a very simple dish but it has a strong flavour of Mediterranean tradition: «You only need to pay attention to the temperature of the oil», says Della Salandra, «so as to preserve the characteristics and texture of the pasta».

Chitarruccio, tenerumi and prickly pear

Recipe for 3 people

400 g bronze-cut spaghetti
600 g tenerumi
50 g bottarga di muggine
100 ml extra virgin olive oil
7 g prickly pear jam
2 organic lemons
1 fresh hot chilli pepper

Preparing the bottarga
Put the bottarga di muggine in a vacuum bag with 50 ml of extra virgin olive oil and bring to 50°C for some 30 minutes. Blend with a hand blender and make a thick cream.

Preparing the prickly pear jam
Cut 200 g of prickly pear pulp into small dices and cook them in a saucepan over a low heat for at least one hour. Strain the pulp to remove the seeds. Cook the resulting smooth paste adding 70 g of white sugar and the juice of one lemon. Cook for 30 minutes.

Finishing the dish
Pick the leaves of tenerumi from the plant. Wash them in lots of cold water and cut them in thin slices. Bring a pot of water to the boil, add salt and cook both tenerumi and spaghetti. Aside, in a small pan, heat the extra virgin olive oil with garlic, chilli pepper and the prickly pear jam. As soon as the spaghetti are cooked, drain them with the tenerumi and toss them in a pan, seasoning them with the oil aromatised with bottarga. Grate some lemon zest on top and serve.

Lavezzari and Wagyu go to Amatrice


In his brand new Otto Bottega e CucinaLorenzo Lavezzari created a dish with Japanese elements: Noodles from the prefecture of Nagasaki, crispy Wagyu belly, tomato sauce and shiso. «For years now», says the chef previously at Iyo, «I’ve been working with oriental ingredients every day. This year with Japanese pasta in particular. After discovering ramensoba and somen I was asked to make a dish with Japanese Noodles».

«The idea is to bring oriental pasta to Amatrice». This dish enhances the flavour and texture of the pasta, and the crispy and fatty part of the Wagyu belly replaces classic guanciale. Shiso adds freshness.

Wagyu goes to Amatrice

Recipe for 4 people

300 g Japanese Noodles
300 g Wagyu pancetta
500 g cherry tomatoes of the Collina Gerardo di Nola variety
1 golden onion
Balsamic vinegar from Modena
Grated Pecorino
4 leaves of shiso
extra virgin olive oil "La Carreccia"

Sauté the finely chopped onion in a casserole tin with 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Blend the cherry tomatoes, strain them and add them to the casserole tin. Add balsamic vinegar and cook for 20 minutes (add vegetal stock if the sauce gets too thick). Cut the Wagyu belly in pieces of the same size (3-4 mm thick, 4x1 cm), place them in a baking tin lined with baking paper and bake them in a pre-heated oven at 200°C until crispy.

Cook the pasta in boiling water, without salt, but adding a tablespoon of soy sauce, for 6 minutes. Drain and mix in a bowl with extra virgin olive oil and a little cooking water. Add the noodles to the casserole tin and mix them with the cherry tomato sauce, the grated pecorino and half the crispy Waguy pancetta. Make four pasta nests, place them on the plates and garnish with tomato sauce, pecorino, crispy belly and finely chopped Japanese basil.

Baldassarre, a touch under boiling point


Adriano Baldassarre, a very experienced chef, made a powerful return to the capital’s culinary scene with Tordomatto, the name that made him famous in Zagarolo. In terms of pasta, he says, «I’ve been trying not to stress pasta in boiling water since 2004. I always keep it at a controlled temperature, that is to say a touch under boiling point». An interesting idea, with an evolution. «From this came the idea to rehydrate a dry product in a strongly-flavoured liquid, so it would convey its flavour to the pasta itself».

The following recipe is just one of many interpretations of this idea, applied to pasta for over 13 years. A list that includes Spaghettoni garlic, oil and chilli pepper, pescatora, Mezze maniche octopus and potatoes, Linguine with peppers, red prawns and marjoram. The current menu at Tordomatto includes Spaghettoni with mushrooms, anise and tarragon and Linguine, pumpkin, purple prawns and sage, whose recipe follows.

«Rehydrating dry pasta – I always used that made by Giovanni Fabbri – gives you sensational results if it allows you to taste the ingredients used without every hiding the good flavour of the wheat». Words of wisdom.

Linguine, purple prawns, pumpkin and sage

for the small crab broth
small crabs

Extract the juice from the crabs, then place all the ingredients in a pot with as much water as the crabs. Bring to 85°C for 20 minutes.

for the pumpkin water

Clean the Mantua pumpkin and extract its juice, then bring the latter to 72°C. Strain. Keep the resulting broth aside.

for the purple prawn oil
heads of purple prawns
extra virgin olive oil

Place all the ingredients in a casserole tin. Add the same weight of oil as the prawns heads. Cook as with a bisque, but with oil.

for the sage oil
extra virgin olive oil
sage leaves

Remove the stalk and put the sage leaves in a vacuum pack. Use the same quantity of extra virgin olive oil. Keep in a thermostatic bain Marie at 68°C for 3 hours.

for the purple prawns
purple prawns
prawn oil

De Riggi and the memory of a damp autumn


Sometimes the best dishes come from lesser-used types of pasta, like rotelle. «This choice», says Maurizio De Riggi of restaurant Markus in San Paolo Belsito (Naples), «was born from my father’s wish to eat his favourite type of pasta».

The inspiration arrived while he was walking in the woods, one morning, in search of porcini: «I wanted to interpret that silence, full of intense aromas, the damp cold covering the thick fallen leaves and the snails».

In particular, this is durum wheat Rotelle with a mousse of maruzze sea snails, covered with crispy leaves of walnuts from San Paolo, Avellane hazelnuts, almonds, beetroot and Neapolitan pumpkin, with earth made with friarielli Strianesi, pesto of black truffle and burnt piennolo tomatoes from Vesuvius.

Damp autumn

200 g rotelle
600 g maruzze sea snails
1500 g walnuts
150 g almonds
150 g hazelnuts
400g friarielli
1 beetroot
300g Neapolitan pumpkin
1 black truffle
4 piennolo tomatoes from Vesuvius
50 g parsley stalks
100 g rice flour
Extra virgin olive oil

for the mousse of sea snails
Cook the sea snails in a pot with the parsley stalks and lots of cold water. Bring to the boil, then cook for 15 minutes. Carefully remove the shells from the snails, and keep the cooking water aside. Strain the cooking liquid, add to the sea snails and blend. Bring the mixture to the boil in a non-stick pot, add rice flour until the texture is creamy. Strain and add salt to taste.

for the leaves
Cut the Neapolitan pumpkin and beetroot into thin slices, then spread them in a baking tin lined with baking paper. Bake at 80°C for around 3 hours. Toast the nuts in the oven at 180 °C. Once cooked, leave to cool and chop finely.

For the friarielli earth
Dry the friarelli in the microwave oven. Once dried, make a coarse powder using a sieve with large holes.

For the burnt piennolo tomatoes from Vesuvius
Cut the tomatoes in halves, burn them on the peel side using a torch.

Jack in search of the lost cauliflower


Gioacchino Attianese, aka Jack, recently became chef at Casa Rispoli in Cava dei Tirreni (Salerno). With this dish he wanted to give new value to cauliflower for a simple reason: «It’s less and less used. Given it’s a poor ingredient, I tried to give it value by adding tuna bottarga, which gives extra sapidity. Dill, instead, gives freshness». A perfect first course for the holidays.

Linguine, cauliflower, anchovies, tuna bottarga and dill

Recipe for 4 people

360 g linguine
500 g cauliflower
200 g fresh, deboned anchovies
80 g tuna bottarga 
1 garlic clove
10 g dill
Oil, salt and pepper

Heat the oil with an unpeeled garlic clove, add the cauliflower cut into small pieces. Cook for 5 minutes, add a little cooking water from the pasta. Meanwhile, cook the pasta until half the necessary time has passed, then finish cooking it with the cauliflower. Once done, mix with anchovies and dill. When serving, finish with raw cauliflower chips and dill.

A salad to celebrate the pasta producers of Abruzzo


This dish is a tribute to the pasta producers of his homeland. The idea belongs to Daniele D’Alberto, at the helm of Borgo Fonte Scura in Silvi, Teramo. «I wanted to give value», he says, «to the great pasta producers Abruzzo is lucky enough to have. This because I believe we must work together, creating synergies between chefs, pastry-chefs, producers, entrepreneurs. It’s hard but I try to do my small part!».

The following pasta salad tries to enhance the flavour and specific features of each one of the 10 different types used». As with any decent pasta salad, «we season it like our mothers always do: with what we can find in the fridge. However, we change almost every texture, but without changing the final outcome».

Pasta salad from Abruzzo

Recipe for 4 people
10 types of pasta
celeriac sauce
mustard sauce
parsley sauce
celery sauce
chargrilled tomatoes
lemon marmalade
ponzu sauce
lime zest
camone tomato jam
rosemary oil
sweet and sour vegetables (carrots, courgettes, radishes, cauliflower, rhubarb, red onion, aubergines, beetroot, celery)
raw vegetables (carrots, celery, mixed salad, sprouts)
herbs (basil, tarragon, parsley, rosemary flowers, chives)
olive sauce

for the celeriac sauce
Clean and dice the celeriac, then blanch it. Fry the garlic in a pan, add the celeriac, some cooking water and cook for a few minutes, then blend and strain.

For the green sauces (parsley/celery)
Wash and sauté the leaves (only use these) with garlic for a few seconds, add ice, let it melt, then blend.

for the mustard
Emulsify the vinegar, oil and salt with the ponzu sauce, soy, lemon, extra virgin olive oil, honey, lime zest

for the jams (tomato/lemons)
100 g fruits
50 brown sugar
Leave to marinate overnight at room temperature, then cook over a medium heat for some 20 minutes, until you get the desired thickness.

for the sweet and sour vegetables
Clean and cut the vegetables in the desired shape. Cook the vegetables for a few minutes in salt and vinegar. Put them in a jar adding the vinegar used to cook the vegetables and the same amount of extra virgin oil.

For the olive sauce
100 g leccine olives
30 g extra virgin olive oil
debone the olives and blend them with olive oil

Finishing the dish
Cook the various types of pasta according to the cooking time of each, season with oil and garlic, rosemary oil, lemon zest. Add the sauce.

Pescion: when pasta ended in the brodetto


Brodetto: is there a more emblematic dish in Adriatic cuisine? From Veneto to Romagna, from Marche to Abruzzo, you can find it almost everywhere on the eastern coasts of Italy. The following recipe comes from Montesilvano (Pescara). The idea of Luca Mastromattei, chef at Pescion, «is to join brodetto and pasta in a sole dish. This trick tries to go beyond the classic custom of eating the fish first, then the remaining sauce with the pasta». The recipes uses classic, fresh and very quick techniques.

Sagne broken into pieces, fish brodetto and basil

Recipe for 4 people

3 gurnard
3 pesce prete 
3 monkfish
4 fresh cherry tomatoes
1 fresh shallot
1 garlic clove
1 dry pepper
extra virgin olive oil
6/7 leaves of basil
350 g sagne broken into pieces

Sauté the garlic and dry pepper in oil, add the blanched and peeled tomatoes, then add one fish at a time and cook over a small heat without turning the fish. Cover with a lid and cook for 15 minutes. 

Cook the pasta al dente, toss it in the pan with a drop of olive oil. Once the fish is cooked, clean it and then put back the filets in the “brodetto”. Blanch the basil for 5 minutes, cool it in water and ice and blend it in cold water and xantana. Place the pasta on a plate, with the filets of fish on top, and the sauce, which you have previously emulsified with a hand blender. Add some drops of basil on top. 

Danilo Vita: how I give value to sea urchins


Spaghetti with sea urchins is a cult dish in Apulia. «They’re an emblem of simplicity, veracity, and territory», says Danilo Vita, chef at restaurant Creatività in Carovigno (Brindisi). «I didn’t get the idea by walking by the sea, or tasting sea urchins on the rocks. I simply got it by going to the fruit monger next door».

«I noticed 4 ingredients that are essential to give value to sea urchins, when joined together: celery, fennel and leek, which can be easily paired, in terms of colours too. Plus mandarins, which were placed a few boxes away. So it came full circle». He adds spaghettoni, a perfect vessel for sapidity and aromas: «I cook spaghetti in an infusion of vegetables and spices, in two steps: first, when the water is boiling, then off the heat, so they don’t loose too much starch and can absorb all the aroma in the water».

Final touch: «I rub a garlic clove on the pot, to add some more aroma, but not aggressive».

Spaghettoni sea urchins and bread sauce with mandarin

Recipe for 4 people

320 g spaghettoni
150 g fennel
90 g celery
100 g leek
5 cardamom pods
15 g fennel seeds
200 g meat of fresh sea urchins
100 g extra virgin olive oil
150 g semolina bread
5 mandarins
1 garlic clove

Clean and cut the fennel, celery and leek coarsely. Add the vegetables to some 4 litres of cold water and slowly bring to the boil, adding cardamom and fennel seeds. Meanwhile, strain the sea urchin meat to remove any impurity and get a silky texture.

For the bread sauce: briefly soak the bread in water, move it to a jar tall enough so you can use a hand blender, emulsify the mandarin juice and the zest of one mandarin with extra virgin olive oil.

When the water is boiling, remove all the vegetables and seeds, as they have already aromatised the water. Add salt and boil the spaghetti over a strong heat for exactly 10 minutes. Then turn off the heat and leave in infusion for 8 more minutes, without ever turning the pasta.

Rub the inside of a casserole tin with garlic, as if it were bruschetta. Then add the drained pasta, toss it over a strong heat with a small ladle of cooking water, turn off the heat, add sea urchins, parsley and extra virgin olive oil.

Place on a plate with all the sea urchin sauce and garnish with a few drops of bread and mandarin sauce.