You can make a simple version of this dish by buying labneh (pre-made), and yuzu kosho (orange sherry dressing) from your local grocer, or you can put yourself to the test and follow our version made from scratch. Yuzu kosho is a hot and citrusy fermented Japanese condiment made with fresh yuzu citrus zest, green chilli peppers, and salt. We have utilised this Japanese method of maximising flavour through fermentation to get the base flavour for our dressing. We have added carrots for some natural sweetness, and orange zest instead of yuzu zest as the fruit doesn't grow that well in the subtropical climate up here in Byron. Plan ahead as our dressing needs to be made a few days in advance.
2-3 large red beetroot, fresh and firm
200g natural yoghurt
3 tsp preserved lemon, finely chopped
Yuzu Kosho dressing
½ preserved lemon, skin finely chopped
100g green chilli, deseed if you prefer
100g orange zest (around 20 large oranges)
1 medium carrot
85g organic salt
25ml sherry vinegar
250ml extra virgin olive oil
To serve: toasted walnuts, crushed
1 Zest your oranges (this is the most laborious part of the dish but it is worth it). Set aside. If you choose to make the kosho for the dressing, invest in a good microplane zester, it will make life much easier. If not, a squeeze of orange juice and chopped green chilli will do the trick.
2 Snip the stems off the chilli and place in the food processor with the orange zest, carrot, 1½ tbsp salt, and blend to a fine paste. Store in a jar and let it sit at room temperature for a few days and then into the fridge before using.
3 Once ready, take 2 tbsp of the kosho paste and whisk into 250ml of olive oil and 25ml sherry vinegar for the dressing.
4 For the labneh, take your yoghurt and place into a colander lined with muslin cloth or a tea towel bundle it up and let it drain into a pot or large bowl. The whey will drain out of the yoghurt, leaving the curd behind. This is labneh. Drain for a minimum of six hours. Use the whey in baking, pickling or to make a natural probiotic whey soda.
5 Mix the labneh with the finely diced preserved lemon, set aside.
6 To assemble the dish: Grate your beetroot, a good old fashioned box grater works best on the large setting. Dress in the yuzu kosho to taste.
7 Layer plate with labneh, followed by a mound of dressed beetroot and scatter generously with crushed toasted walnuts.
Beetroot is a tricky vegetable to pair with wine but to the rescue comes the much under-rated Loire stalwart, muscadet. It’s an understated grape variety with minerally flavours that parry with the rustic beetroot. ‘Sur lie’ indicates it rested on its yeast lees to gather the depth and texture needed to match the beetroot, with the Muscadet’s racy acidity equal to that of the lemony labneh. The muscadet even manages to survive the acetic twang of yuzu kosho dressing. For a local hero, try a young Hunter Valley semillon.