‘Sundays are for Dim Sum. While the rest of America goes to church, Sunday school, or NFL games, you can find Chinese people eating Cantonese food.’ Eddie Huang.
Dim Sum originated in Canton, China and can be likened to how the English take afternoon tea or the Spanish have tapas with Sherry. They are essentially small bite-sized snacks which were served with tea to weary workers and travellers to see them through until they had their main meal. Nowadays Chinese people tend to eat them on weekend mornings for a long brunch.
In dim sum houses, a whole variety of steamed, baked and fried snacks are served from trolleys stacked high with bamboo steamers which are then pushed around the restaurant for diners to select from. Sharing is advisable.
Dim Sum is commonly viewed as Cantonese, although other varieties exist. Due to the Cantonese tradition of enjoying tea with this cuisine, yum cha, which means ‘drink tea’ in Cantonese is also synonymous with dim sum.
However if you are a true foodie like me you may wish to try making your own Dim Sum at home. Following a fantastic beginners sushi class @London cookery school with the wonderful Will Wong I booked myself in again for their beginners Dim Sum class which I hear is the schools most popular cooking class.
The three main types of Dim Sum taught on this course are Har Gow, Sui Mai and Chiu Chow.
The translation of Dim Sum is beautiful meaning ‘touch of the heart.’
Har Go (prawn dumplings)
Total: 75 mins
Prep: 60 mins
Cook 15 mins
Yield: 18 mins
For the Dough
3/4 cup wheat starch
2 tbsp tapioca starch
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup, plus 2 tbsp water (boiling)
2 1/2 tsp vegetable oil
For the Filling
6 ounces shrimp (rinsed, tails removed, and chopped)
3tbsp bamboo shoots (finely chopped)
1 1/2 tsp green onion (finely chopped)
3/4 tsp Chinese rice wine (or dry sherry)
1/4 tsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/8 tsp white pepper (freshly ground)
1 large egg white (lightly beaten)
2 tsp cornstarch
Make the Dumpling Dough
1) Gather the ingredients
2) In a medium bowl, combine the wheat, starch, tapioca starch and the salt.
3) Slowly stir in 1/2 cup of the boiling water. Add the oil and begin using your hands to shape into a dough.
4) Add the remaining 2 tbsp of boiling water if the dough is too dry. Don’t overwork the dough, but continue shaping for about 2 minutes, until its smooth and shiny.
5) Cover and let rest for 20 minutes.
Make the Filling
- Place the shrimp in a medium bowl and add the bamboo shoots, green onion, rice wine, sesame oil, salt, pepper, egg white, and cornstarch. Mix well.
- Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour to give the flavours a chance to meld.
Form the dumplings
- Coat a paper towel with vegetable oil and use it to oil your cutting board or work surface and the broad side of a cutting knife or cleaver (a cleaver works best). Keep the dough covered to prevent it drying out while preparing the dumplings.
- Break off 1 tsp of the dough and roll into a ball. Flatten the ball of dough by pressing it in the palm of your hand.
- Lay the dough on the oiled work surface and press down on it with the oiled side of the knife or cleaver to form a circle that is 2 1\2 to 3 inches wide.
- Place a heaping tsp of filling in the middle of the wrapper, spreading it out evenly, but not touching the edges.
- Carefully lift the top edge of the wrapper and fold it over the filling toward you (you should have a half circle now). Use your thumb and forefinger to form pleats in the dough, and pinch the edges closed.
- Place the completed dumplings on a plate and cover with a damp cloth to keep them from drying out while preparing the remainder of the dumplings.
Now next time it takes you a few seconds to devour a Har Go dumpling you may want to give some thought to all the hard work your Dim Sum chef has put in. This is exactly why I have decided to split the write up of my Dim Sum course into three posts. So watch this space for how to make Su Mai (pork) and Chiu Chow Fun Gor (prawn and pork) at home.