Tag Archives: Dim Sum

Eclectic Houston – “To Touch Your Heart”

你好 (nee-how) and welcome to the Susitna Cafe’!  “Eclectic Houston” is our monthly chronicle about the unique and international aspects of Houston, TX USA.  Today we’re discussing oh sooo delicious dim-sum…

The culinary art of dim sum began in China hundreds of years ago.  Some believe that it started along the Silk Road at tea houses where travelers often stopped to relax and eat…

Silk Road and Related Trade Routes, Courtesy of Stanford Program on International and Cross-Cultural Education

These loud and lively tea houses became very popular.  Since the 10th century, this popularity has resulted in over 2000 different types of dim sum having been created.  Now there are typically over 100 different kinds of dim sum served in large restaurants around the world.

Dim sum translated from Cantonese means “To Touch Your Heart”.  Well, it’s no wonder that something that touches your heart (and is sooo tasty) is so popular around the world.

My own introduction to dim-sum began in Seattle, WA USA in Seattle’s China town when I was very young.  I was mesmerized by all the noise, talking and people eating tasty dumplings.  Thereafter, “R” and I have been on a lifelong mission to find the tastiest dim sum.  Our mission has taken us to China and most recently, Hong Kong, where dim sum is a way of life.

However now, lucky for us, we no longer need to travel far and wide to experience oh sooo delicious dim-sum.  We can make our own or visit our friends at Cafe Chino in Houston, TX USA.

We owe a special thanks to the Houston Chowhounds and Cafe Chino, since it is with them that we learned to master dim sum.  Our cooking class was oh sooo special!

We were fortunate to have had skillful chefs who served as our instructors…Chefs May Chan…

and Eddie Chan…

But that’s not all…the master Chefs’ sons, Randall and Bryan, and Cafe Chino staff were all participants too…

So with 2 award winning chefs and their skillful staff, we just got all equipped and donned our chef hats!

All the Houchies started cooking since there was no time to waste…besides, all of us Houchies wanted a taste!

So, shiitake mushrooms and fresh vegetables we did fry…

Followed by Cantonese eggroll rolling and sealing…Oh Me, Oh My!

After rolling and sealing that we all did try, all of a sudden there were lots of egg rolls to fry!

But wait!  That’s not all for us Houchie chefs to do…onward we went to make pork potstickers too…

We Houchies are an enthusiastic bunch and we wanted more to do…so we thought, why not make some Har-Gau dumplings…say at least one or two?

Next we made Sui-Mai,

with a knife trick I’ll never forget…

Smile, you’re on Susitna Cafe’s website!  Are we hungry yet?

After Sui-Mai dumplings, there was something even better yet!  Cafe’ Chino scallion pancakes!  Will we ever forget?

But before we share the recipe, Chef May cooked her special way…

While us Houchies were ready to eat…”Oh! Can we, can we Chef May?”

It was all so wonderful and delicious…

We all had a great day!

Cafe Chino on Urbanspoon

Cafe Chino Scallion Pancakes

Ingredients

2 cups flour

1 cup hot water

1/2 cup green onion (scallions), sliced

1/2 cup canola oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

Sift flour into a large bowl.  While stirring, add hot water until a dough ball is formed.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and allow the dough to relax for 30 minutes.

To begin making the pancakes, dust your pastry board or work surface with flour.  Roll out dough into a thin rectangle.

Brush the rectangle with canola oil.  Next, sprinkle the rectangle with scallions and season with salt and pepper.

Roll up one end of the rectangle (lengthwise) and fold to the middle of the rectangle.

Now roll up the opposite end of the rectangle (lengthwise) to the middle of the rectangle.  Brush the top of the folded rectangle with oil.

Now roll up the rectangle again lengthwise and fold into a coiled ball.

Turn the spiral side face up and flatten with a rolling pin or your hand.

Pan fry the pancake in hot oil for about 2 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.

Cut into quarters and serve with hoisin sauce on the side.

Cook’s Note:  You may wish to substitute olive oil for the canola oil in this recipe.

Foodie Note:  Do try Cafe Chino’s “Chilean Sea Bass with Asian Pesto”…You’ll really like it!  Oh, and don’t forget Cafe Chino’s special Thanksgiving Dim Sum Brunch on Sunday, November 21, 2010, 11-3 pm.

Advertisements

11 Comments

Filed under August 2010

The Dim-Sum of the Matter…

你好 (nee-how) my Susitna Cafe’ friends!  We’re talking about travel here at the Cafe’.  I know, this is no surprise to you!

Do you like to travel?  I like to travel because I like to learn.  I like to learn what a place is really like.  You know, really get into “the Dim-Sum of the matter”.

Sometimes getting to “the Dim-Sum of the matter” during a short visit can be challenging, particularly when jet-lag is involved.  Last year, we traveled to Hong Kong.  We had anticipated some jet lag.  However, I experienced serious jet lag.

Upon arrival in Hong Kong, I was absolutely sure that my body was  located in Hong Kong.  However, my brain was located elsewhere.  Timbuktu perhaps?  No telling really…

Our planned Day 1 itinerary didn’t challenge our jet lagged minds too much.  We had planned a ride on the Victoria Peak Tram, the world’s oldest funicular railway.  All of our travel guidebooks had recommended it as a “must-do” activity.

After reaching Victoria Peak, we planned to walk amidst the nature trails and enjoy the views of Victoria Harbour and Hong Kong below.  And so, that’s what we did.

Upon arrival at the Peak, we refreshed ourselves with some strong Pacific Coffee at the Peak restaurant.  And, zoom-zoom!  Off we went to enjoy our walk and fabulous vistas!

The view of  Victoria Harbour and Hong Kong below was sooo impressive…Hong Kong appeared like a modern and westernized city!

Gee, it even looked like a big city in North America (you know, that place where my brain was located…or, was that Timbuktu?).

The Peak nature trails were lovely.  Much of the vegetation was semi-tropical and familiar to us.  Gee, it sort of looked like the same vegetation found in Houston, TX…

“R” really liked the trees along the Peak trails.  According to the horticultural signage in the Park, the trees were identified as rubber trees.  Hmm…we hadn’t seen any rubber trees like that in Houston, TX…

So we walked and wandered amongst alot of rubber trees.  Although still feeling  jet-lagged, I experienced a brief moment of clarity during our walk.  I thought “Hmm…if you can find something different, like a rubber tree, amongst so much familiarity, then our distant view of Hong Kong might be like a wonton wrapper”.

I’m sure that you understand what happens to a person when you walk around and see alot of rubber trees pondering these sort of thoughts my Susitna Cafe’ friends.  As you can imagine, we had reached a decision point during our first day in Hong Kong amongst all those rubber trees.  We decided that this is “where the rubber meets the road“!  Tee-hee 😮

So, at that point on our first day in Hong Kong, we decided to break-away from our planned itinerary and dive-in to “the Dim-Sum of the matter”.  There was no time to lose, so we headed down into the heart of the city to see what was inside the Hong Kong wonton wrapper…

Upon arrival at street level, Hong Kong  appeared very modern and westernized just like our view from atop Victoria Peak.  I think we were still on the edge of the wonton wrapper…

We saw big and western style malls full of fashionable shops…

You know, a funny thing happens when you travel and explore…the more you explore, the more you discover what’s behind the wrapper (wonton wrapper that is…).  Here’s a peak inside the Hong Kong dumpling…an Asian junket amongst a modern and westernized backdrop wrapper…

After seeing the Asian junket on Victoria Harbour, we were excited to really get to “the Dim-Sum of the matter”.  So we explored further.  All of a sudden, we noted that the signage in our surroundings began to change.  Instead of modern and westernized signs, we saw neon multi-lingual signage printed with both western and Chinese characters…

As we delved into the dumpling even more, the street signs changed again.  Now there were more Asian influences…

Soon, our exploration led us to the heart of the dumpling…an evening Ladies Market where we experienced all kinds of tasty ingredients…

This is a vibrant place where locals and visitors enjoy the tasty dumplings…

A place where the friendly ingredients meld so nicely together…

Well my Susitna Cafe’ friends, as you can see, we had a wonderful first day in Hong Kong!  Sigh…there’s just nothing like getting to “the Dim-Sum of the matter” when you’re traveling!

Susitna Cafe’ Shrimp Dumplings

Ohhh…I love yummy dumplings, don’t you?  Although you can use store bought wonton wrappers for these dumplings, homemade tastes so much better!  Ohhh…they’re even better when we incorporate tasty herbs too!

Herb Wonton Wrapper Ingredients

2 cups organic unbleached flour, plus extra for pastry board

1/2 teaspoon gourmet salt

1 large egg

1/2 cup water

1/3 cup cilantro & chives, chopped fine

cornstarch

Combine flour and salt on your pastry board or countertop.  Make a well in the center of your flour and salt mixture.  Next, add egg and water into a mixing bowl.  Whisk until mixed.  Pour the egg and water mixture into your flour well.

Mix and knead the dough until it forms a smooth ball.  If the dough sticks to your pastry board, then add a little extra flour to the surface.

Now add the chopped herbs to your dough and knead to distribute herbs evenly throughout the dough.

Place the dough ball into a mixing bowl.  Set aside and cover with a damp cloth and let sit while we make the shrimp dumpling filling.

Shrimp Dumpling Filling Ingredients

1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp, chopped and dried on papertowel

1 cup chinese cabbage, chopped fine plus some extra whole leaves to line your steamer basket

3 Tablespoons carrot, minced

2 Tablespoons cilantro, chopped fine

2 Tablespoons chives, minced

2 Tablespoons green onion, minced

2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced

3 Tablespoons oyster sauce (we use Lee Kum Kee brand with No MSG Added at the Cafe’)

1 teaspoon sesame oil

Toss all ingredients together into a mixing bowl.  Stir to combine.

Now let’s work with our herby wonton dough again.  Begin by dusting your pastry board and rolling pin with corn starch.

Next, cut your dough into quarters.  Roll-out one of your dough quarters until approximately paper thin.  Cut the dough with a biscuit cutter.  If you don’t have a biscuit cutter, you may use a 3-4 inch diameter drinking glass edge dusted with corn starch too.

Now let’s make dumplings!  Place approximately 1 teaspoon of your shrimp mixture in the center of your cut-out dumpling wrapper.

Wet the edges of the wrapper, fold-over into a half-moon shape and seal.  You may pinch the edges for a decorative effect.

Or, at the Susitna Cafe’, we often pinch up the wrapper to form a little happy package.

Then we tie our dumpling package with a little chive bow…sigh

Once you have made all of your dumpling packages, pour about 3/4 cup of water into a dutch oven and place a steamer basket inside.  Heat the dutch oven over medium heat.  When you observe steam arising, place chinese cabbage leaves on the bottom of the steamer basket.  Place enough leaves to cover the bottom of the basket.  Now place your dumpling packages in the basket and be sure that they are not touching.

Place a cover on your dutch oven and steam for about 10 minutes or until your dumplings are semi-transparent.

While the dumplings are steaming, you can continue working your 1/4 pieces of wonton dough, filling them and forming the dumplings into the shape of your choice.  If the water is low in your dutch oven, add additional water and wait until the water steams prior to adding additional dumplings in the steamer basket.

Serve with your favorite dipping sauces.  You can make a quick dipping sauce with 1/2 cup soy sauce, 1 ounce rice wine vinegar, 1 ounce cooking sake, 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil, 1/2 teaspoon chili paste, 1/2 teaspoon fresh grated ginger and 1/2 Tablespoon cilantro, chopped fine.

It’s now time to get to get to “The Dim-Sum of the Matter…”



1 Comment

Filed under March 2010