Category: Dim Sum

Dim Sum: Steamed Sparerib in Black Bean Sauce

Steamed Rib with Black Beans 2017-07 1

Steamed pork Ribs, especially with Black Beans, is something I cook regularly at home but it is also a regular on dim sum menus everywhere. I most commonly prepare this as an entrée sized dish but a small plate of two or three makes a lovely snack at any time…

Generally, small sections of pork rib are dusted in flour after being lightly seasoned and then steamed with Chinese Salted Black Beans along with soy sauce, or rice wine, so that a nice light sauce is produced. Chilli can be included, as well as sugar, and the flour thickens things very nicely.

What was different about the ones I ate in in Vancouver’s New Town Restaurant recently (and pictured above) was the addition of a slice of Chinese Preserved Sausage. This added a unique umami depth and obviated the need for any additional sugar or other sweetener. I have not come across this before but I will be incorporating it in my own preparations in the future for sure…

Dim Sum: Beef Tendon

Beef Tendon 1

This dish, which I had at the curiously named ‘Beaver Sailor Diner’ in Halifax a while ago, was both interesting and cause for a little confusion on my part. The English wording on the menu described it as ‘Beef Tendons stewed in special sauce’ while the Chinese characters (红烧牛筋/羊筋羊肉), specified that the tendons are ‘red-cooked’, or stewed in a seasoned soy based sauce. The last fours characters, however, add a little more detail, and therein lay the source of confusion for me.

I mis-read the (羊) character (which appears twice) as being the word for sheep, and so, when I asked the waiter ‘Oh does this come with lamb as well?’ he was suitably confused. I pointed to the last two characters, saying ‘Yang Rou?’ and then he started to laugh before pointing out that the character in question is (bàn), meaning ‘half’. He did have the grace, however, to say that the two characters do indeed look very much alike and I was then able to make sense of the last four characters, which actually read ‘half-tendon, half-meat).

I have had beef tendon number of times in dim sum restaurants and, in each case, it has consisted simply of translucent, yellowish squares of stewed or steamed cow tendon/ I actually quite like them but a whole plate of just tendon can sometimes be a ‘much of a muchness’, and so, accordingly, this dish, with bits of tendon still attached to chunks of meat was quite welcome. There were actually a number of chunks of pure tendon as well, one of which may be visible in the above picture.

Anyway, if you haven’t had it, beef tendon is prized chiefly for its texture which is quite a bit like the skin on pork belly that has been stewed, or otherwise cooked so that it softens rather than becomes crispy. It is both unctuous and chewy at the same time, with a firmly gelatinous mouth-feel. The sauce here was not bad… it had a slightly harsh aftertaste and used Star Anise (which I always omit as I don’t care for it), but it was otherwise very pleasant and I have to say that this probably the nicest beef tendon dish I have had as yet…

Shrimp and Pork Stuffed Bell Peppers

Shrimp Stuffed Peppers 1

I have recently been tweaking a recipe for a dumpling filling based on shrimp and pork. It is still a work in progress but I came across some Baby Bell Peppers at the Supermarket the other day and it inspired me to try combining the two in a Dim-Sum style appetizer… Continue reading “Shrimp and Pork Stuffed Bell Peppers”

Dim Sum – Steamed Pork and Peanut Dumplings

Steamed Pork and Peanut Dumpling 1

潮洲蒸粉粿

I had these dumplings at Urban China in the City of Edmonton some while ago. The English name given on the menu describes the content well enough but the Chinese Character name more particularly identifies them as a specialty of the Cantonese town of Chaozhou commonly known as ‘Fun Gor’. You should be aware, though, that the town and the dumplings both have a host of different spellings and can appear together on a menu (to list just a few possibilities) as:

  • Teochew Fun Gor;
  • Chiu Chow Dumpling; or,
  • Chaozhou Fen Guo

This type of dumpling has a starch based wrapper that is translucent when steamed. It is typically made with wheat or tapioca starch (or a combination thereof) and flour is sometimes added, with rice flour being the most common. Pork and peanuts are invariable components of the filling but shrimp, both dried and fresh, are often included, as are white radish, black mushrooms, and cilantro.

The version you see pictured above has the standard starch-based wrapper and is of a fairly common shape (although you can often find them formed as a flat, half-moon, with the pleat on the side). These ones were quite large and a little unwieldy when trying to manipulate them with chopsticks, but they held together well and didn’t fall apart. The pork presence in the filling was a bit bland, while the coarsely chopped peanuts added some texture but little taste. Most of the flavor actually came from dried black mushroom, with a little cilantro in the back ground. The dumplings were not bad, overall, but definitely not the best ‘fun gor’ I have ever had…

By the way (and for those interested), the first two characters in the Chinese menu name indicate Chaozhou (or Chiu Chow, etc.) while the middle character (pronounced zhēng, in Mandarin) means ‘steamed’. The last two characters identify the dumpling type and yield the ‘Fun Gor’ pronunciation but they are actually non-standard deviations from the typical menu listing . Usually, the characters 粉果 are used for this sort of dumpling (and the pronunciation is the same) but, here, the restaurant has employed 粉粿, instead. This makes a bit of linguistic sense in that the final character translates as ‘cooked rice for making cake’, but. In usual renditions, the standard character (果) means fruit. Anyone have any information on this point?

 

Dim Sum: Grilled Abalone and Meat Buns

Grilled Abalone and Meat Bun

鮑魚生煎飽

This delicacy, which I was served at Urban China in Edmonton this past July, was very interesting from both a culinary and linguistic standpoint. The buns of stuffed, leavened dough, were described as being ‘grilled’ on the English menu but the penultimate character in the Chinese name means to ‘pan-fry’, which was clearly the case here. However, each bun was nearly the width of my palm so I rather suspect that they must have been steamed first.

The filling contained both abalone and pork and was very tasty. The abalone was diced very small, and there wasn’t a great deal of it (abalone is very expensive) but it did add a nice, sweetish marine flavor to the umami of the meat. There was, unfortunately, some cilantro added, which I dislike, but it was in small enough amount that it didn’t diminish my pleasure.

For those interested, the Chinese name has a bit of a poetic quality as the first and last characters are both pronounced ‘bao’, albeit with a fractional difference in tone. The first two characters specify Abalone, but can be read as ‘abalone fish’, indicating how the Chinese categorize this animal. Interestingly, the first character does not contain the ‘insect/bug radical’ as do most of the characters for various types of shell-fish.

I was a bit confused by the middle character (生, pronounced ‘shēng’). This usually indicates an item that is fresh or raw, and I first thought it indicated that fresh rather than dried abalone had been used except that the placement of the character was wrong. I have since learned that it forms a compound with the next character and that a生煎 bun is a particular specialty of Shanghai.

The very last character is curious and I could use some help… Many bread and dumpling delicacies are specified by the generic包character in their name. Here, the final character includes, you will note, 包as its right half, and the pronunciation of both is just about the same. The meaning of the 飽character, however, is ‘eat until full’ so I am not sure if the person who drafted the menu used the wrong character, or whether they were employing a well-known Chines pun. Can anybody shed some light on this?

Dim Sum: Deep Fried Lobster Dumplings

Deep Fried Lobster Dumpling B

香菜龍蝦角

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I ordered this particular dim sum offering. The final character in the Chinese menu name (角) usually indicates a dumpling made with rice flour and wheat starch but these had a wrapper that was more like those used for won tons and they also had the shape of dumplings generally identified using the 餃 character.

At first, I misread the first two characters in the Chinese name as being ‘Celery’, and it wasn’t until after I placed the order that I recognized them as meaning ‘Cilantro’, which I heartily dislike. Fortunately, there was no hint of that herb (or celery either, for that matter) either visibly or in the taste.

The filling was very nice and tasty but it was little drier and less tender than I expected. I doubt the restaurant would be as fraudulent as to substitute shrimp when lobster was clearly specified, but they must have used a western variety of lobster as it clearly was not the succulent east-coast sort. To my surprise, this dim sum was served with a little dish of mayo on the side. This really didn’t appeal to me, actually, and I just used a little soy sauce which went well. The wrapper was nicely crunchy and the overall experience was quite good.

By the way, for those who are interested, the second to last character when standing alone means ‘shrimp’ but the preceding letter means dragon and, in Chinese, a ‘Dragon Shrimp’ (pronounced lóngxiā, in Mandarin) is a lobster…

 

 

Dim Sum: Duck Feet with Taro 香芋鴨掌

Duck Feet with Taro

When I was served this particular dim sum dish I thought at first I had been given chicken’s feet in error. A quick investigation, however, revealed that the feet in question were indeed webbed and I am rather sorry I didn’t think to photograph one of them ‘unfurled’ for you as well. Anyway, I have had duck’s feet a fair number of times but I have to say that this was probably my least favorite of all… Continue reading “Dim Sum: Duck Feet with Taro 香芋鴨掌”