Dim Sum

With back to school on the horizon, meal time is perfect chance to gather the family back around the table. Shared food, shared experience—that’s what strengthens the connections between people. Food forges social bonds in every culture, but the Chinese dim sum experience takes it to a whole new level. There are countless varieties of dim sum, with new ones invented every day. In fact, there’s a teahouse in the Canton region of China that offers two thousand different dim sum on a rotating basis! Here’s a sampling of some of the more common ones you might enjoy:

Dumplings: Savory pork, seafood or vegetable filling wrapped in tender wheat or rice flour wrappers, then steamed, boiled or pan-fried—however they’re made, dumplings are ubiquitous on the dim sum cart. Pork-stuffed potstickers are pan-fried, then boiled or steamed until tender. Delicate steamed shrimp shu mai are wrapped in a thin skin that lets the pink filling show through. Chinese chives often add flavor and color to shrimp or pork-based fillings.

Breads: Bread dough is another favorite way of enclosing fillings, which are then baked, pan-fried or steamed. Bao buns, made from a raised dough filled with savory char sui pork or sweet bean or lotus seed paste, are steamed until light and fluffy. Baked bao are brushed with egg glaze to make a golden crust. Pan-fried scallion pancakes are chewy and satisfying with a flaky, layered texture.

Rice Dishes: Rice and rice flour figure in many dim sum dishes. Sheets of rice flour batter are steamed and wrapped around meat or vegetable fillings, or simply rolled and topped with sweetened soy sauce. Packets of sticky rice mixed with mushrooms, chicken, shrimp and Chinese sausage, wrapped in lotus leaves and then steamed are fun to unfold as well as to eat. Thick congee (rice porridge) makes a satisfying breakfast.

Deep-fried Dishes: Deep-frying adds satisfying crunch to breaded shrimp paste wrapped around crab claws. The same mixture, spread on toast triangles and deep-fried, is transformed into the ever-popular shrimp toast.  And who doesn’t love deep-fried spring rolls—crisp flour wrappers enclosing savory meat or vegetable fillings?

Meat: Char siu, or hoisin-marinated roast pork, fills pork bao and rice noodle sheets, enlivens sticky rice and is delicious thinly sliced on its own. Pork spareribs seasoned with soy sauce, hot chilies, garlic and fermented black beans before steaming, are rich and tender. Though pork is the meat most often found in dim sum dishes, roast duck and foil-wrapped chicken are also favorites. The more adventurous diner can sample tripe, chicken feet and even duck tongues!

Vegetables: The freshness of gai lan (Chinese broccoli), tender pea shoots or baby bok choy makes a nice contrast with dough-wrapped buns and dumplings. These greens are quickly sautéed and often finished with oyster sauce or soy sauce. Mushrooms and bell peppers are stuffed with a shrimp and pork filling, then pan-fried. Turnip cake, made with grated daikon radish, studded with scallions, cilantro and sometimes Chinese sausage, has a crunchy crust and creamy inside.

Desserts: Though sweets are not usually served after a Chinese meal, the dim sum experience is not complete without a little taste of something sweet. Typical choices include egg custard in a flaky pastry shell, refreshing mango or almond pudding, crunchy deep-fried sesame balls filled with bean paste, and beautifully cut and presented fresh fruit.

  CHINESE BBQ PORK BUNS

It’s easy to make Chinese-style pork buns, with bread dough from the refrigerator case and a quick trip to Chinatown for barbecued pork. Kikkoman Oyster Sauce and Soy Sauce add rich, umami flavor to the filling.

 

2

tablespoons vegetable oil

1

small onion, chopped

1

clove garlic, chopped

1/4

cup Kikkoman Oyster Sauce

2

tablespoons Kikkoman Less Sodium Soy Sauce

1

tablespoon sherry

1

tablespoon cornstarch

2

teaspoons sugar

1

pound Chinese barbecued pork, chopped

2

(11-ounce) packages refrigerated bread dough

 

Heat oven to 375°F. In a wok or large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; stir-fry until onion is soft. Remove from heat; add oyster sauce, soy sauce, sherry, cornstarch and sugar, stirring well to combine. Add pork and mix well. Divide bread dough into 16 pieces and form each piece into a 2-inch ball. Roll balls into 3-inch rounds. Place 2 tablespoons pork filling in the center of each round. Gather dough up and around filling by pleating along the edges. Place buns, sealed side down, on a nonstick baking sheet. Bake 25-30 minutes or until buns have browned.

Makes 16 buns

 

 

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