DIM-SUM

Last Friday was my turn to host the neighbors’ monthly get-together.  Inspired by the Chinese New Year celebrated this year on January 31, I decided to make it a dim-sum night.  These are the items I prepared.

Beef Sio-mai on spinach wrap

Beef Siomai on spinach wrap

Ingredients:

  • ½ lb ground sirloin, I purchased the pack with the lowest fat content
  • ¼ cup chopped water chestnuts
  • ¼ cup chopped bamboo shoots
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 1 t sesame seed oil
  • 1 T rice wine
  • 1 t sugar
  • ¼ cup frozen green peas, thawed
  • 25 pieces spinach wonton wrapper.  The package suggests to use this type of wrapper to make vegetable dumplings, but I thought it would add some color and I decided to use green peas to complement the  spinach wrap.

Mix all the ingredients and refrigerate for an hour to overnight to meld the flavors.

Chicken and Shrimp Siomai

Chicken and Shrimp Siomai

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup boneless chicken breast, chopped
  • ¼ c chopped water chestnuts
  • ¼ c Chinese black mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 1 T rice wine
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 1 T sesame seed oil
  • 1 t sugar
  • 1 t salt
  • ½ t pepper
  • 15 pieces shrimps, shell and slice in the middle to remove the black vein
  • 25 Siomai wrapper

Mix all the ingredients, except the shrimps and refrigerate for an hour to overnight to meld the flavors.

Wrap the siomai using 1 T of chicken top with half the shrimp. Make a circle using the index finger and the thumb. Put the siomai on the hole and lightly grab the ends to make the siomai pockets.

Chicken Siopao

Chicken Siopao

I have posted the recipe for Chicken Siopao. For this occasion, I just made them smaller, about 2 inches diameter.

Turkey Dumpling

Dumpling with Turkey

This is actually called Peking Kuo-Tieh Dumplings.

Dough Skin:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 ½ cup boiling water
  • 5 T cold water

Sift flour in a bowl, mix in the boiling water. Leave for 5 minutes, then add the cold water. Transfer into a mixer or knead manually until it forms a soft ball.

Filling:

  • ½ lb ground turkey
  • 1 T chopped  fresh ginger
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 1 T Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ cup chopped bamboo shoots
  • 1 T rice wine

Cut the dough into round the size of a pecan nut. Using a rolling-pin, flatten each and put 1 T of filling.  Make pleats on one side of the round and pinch on the other side to form the dumpling. This process really takes time but it is worth it.

Boil water in a pot. Drop the dumplings into the boiling water few pieces at a time. The dumpling will first sink into the bottom of the pan and then rise to the top when cooked. Scoop out each floating dumpling and set aside. Spray some oil to prevent from sticking to each other. Store in the refrigerator. This can be done the day before.

On the day of the party, fry the dumplings in a hot pan with little oil to prevent it from sticking to the pan. This takes about 3 minutes on each side.

IMG_1963

IMG_1962

Chicken Skewers With Philippine Inasal Flavor

Chicken Skewers With Philippine Inasal Flavor

Ingredients:

  • 2  lbs boneless and skinless chicken thighs, If you buy the ones with bones, simply cut around the bones. Cut in bite-size squares.

Marinade overnight in:

  • ¼ c vinegar
  • 1 whole clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 inch fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 inch fresh turmeric, finely chopped or 2  t turmeric powder if fresh is not available
  • ½ cup chopped lemongrass
  • 2 T salt

On the day of the party, put 3 or 4 pieces in small bamboo skewers.  With little oil to prevent sticking, cook the sticks in a pan for 5 minutes each side. Start with a really hot pan.

Egg Noodle Salad with Sesame Dressing

Egg Noodle Salad with Sesame Dressing

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb egg noodles. udon noodles will work too
  • 4 pieces scallions, the white part only, slice lengthwise
  • 3 pieces of kirby cucumbers, or Persian cucumbers, or equivalent measure of English cucumbers
  • 1 sweet red pepper, slice into strips
  • 1 cup carrots, cut in sticks
  • Dressing: 2 t sesame  oil; 1 T peanut oil, 1 T peanut butter, 2 T rice vinegar, 1 T miso, pepper to taste .

Boil water in a pot and cook the noodles according to package directions.  Rinse and drain when done.

Make the dressing and toss everything. Serve immediately or keep cool in the refrigerator.

Siopao with Sweet Red Beans and Sweetened Coconut Filling

Siopao with Sweet Red Beans and Sweetened Coconut Filling

Ingredients:

  • 1 can sweet red beans. I cooked mine using dried azuki beans, sweetened with little sugar
  • 1 cup  Philippine sweet coconut or macapuno, optional

Use the same dough as for siopao. Put 1 T filling inside and steam for 10 minutes.

Egg Custard Tart

Egg Custard Tart

Custard:

  • 1 ½ c hot water
  • ½ c sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 t white vinegar
  • Dissolve sugar in hot water. Allow to cool and add the remaining ingredients. Strain and set aside.

Pastry:

  •  1 ½ c all purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 stick, plus 2 T cold butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 t vanilla
  • Combine flour and sugar. Cut in the butter until it resembles coarse meal. Combine the egg and vanilla and add to the flour mixture. Transfer into a floured surface and knead for 1 minute.
  • Divide the dough into 18 or 20 pieces and press into 2 ½: tart pans. Since I don’t own the small  tart pans, I used the mini muffin pan.
  • Stir the custard mixture and pour into each tart. Bake in pre-heated 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Can be served hot or cold.

I offered different sauces to go with the dim-sums.

  • Soy-Vinegar.  ¼ cup soy sauce,  3 T rice vinegar, ½ t black pepper, finely sliced 1 scallion. Mix together. This is good for the dumplings. For variation, instead of scallions use, 1 T finely diced fresh ginger.
  • Hoisin-Sesame:  3 T hoisin sauce, 1 t sesame oil. Mix. This is good on Chicken Siopao.
  • Worcestershire: Also good used in the chicken siopao.

For drinks I served lychee juice,  jasmine tea and chilled sake.

Making each dumpling requires patience.  It’s been my habit to turn the TV on while I work in the kitchen. This time I tuned in to Netflix for my favorite old movies. I figured since I already saw the movies several times,  there is no need to pay attention much to the dialogues while making the dumplings.

Dim-sum night was a hit. My friend Isabel said to me, ‘this is over the top, you know I can’t match this’,  while her Italian husband said, ‘I am serving pizza on my turn!’.

To that I responded, ‘I would like that since I have been saying that the day I meet a pizza I like, is the day I become a true Floridian’.

Because right now, when it comes to food,  my heart still belongs to New York!

By the way, I completed the preparation of these good morsels while two of my favorite old movies played on the TV: School Ties and Last Holiday.  It provides me with the proper rhythm. Try it, it’s fun.

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Take on the 4th

It’s our first 4th of July here in Florida. Without an outdoor grill (yet), I know it won’t be a traditional July 4th barbecue, not that we celebrate the 4th like most Americans do but I aim to bring the outdoors indoor with or without a grill.

So here’s my take on the 4th this year. A pot of  purslane with red flowers for the center piece (picked up at a local garden store since my garden is still a piece of  green lawn)  is the best I can do at the moment to honor the red, white and blue. The outdoor tablecloth and dishes provide the white and blue part.

Menu is not exactly American. Oven-grilled Asian flavored beef, chicken and table-top grilled shrimp, all to be eaten with boiled  thin vermicelli noodles, leaf lettuce, scallions and shoe-string cut vegetables like cucumbers and  carrots. I even used chayote which I discovered is very good in salads. The dressing for this Vietnamese salad is lemon juice seasoned with fish sauce.  This dish has become another family summer favorite picked up from Vietnamese friends over two decades ago. They just make a huge bowl of cooked vermicelli noodles, tons of green leafy vegetables, a large bowl of the spicy lemon fish sauce dressing and guests help themselves with various marinated meat cooked on the grill. So simple and yet so satisfying. A perfect way to serve to family and friends for a summer meal, the 4th or any other day!

Menu:
Asian inspired grilled meat.

Beef.  Cut into thin slices or get the already thin sliced bulgogi meat from a Korean food store. Season with bulgogi marinade. I find that bottled bulgogi marinade is now widely available in supermarkets. I make my own marinade with soy sauce, minced garlic and ginger, little bit of sugar, salt, scallions and sesame oil and sesame seeds.  I recently searched the directory in Wellington, Florida for Korean restaurants and it came back with nothing. Nada! So I would probably be making bulgogi and kalbi quite often. But the  list of Italian restaurants is almost endless, hopefully we’ll find one of them dishing out a good pizza when we crave for  New York quality pizza.

Chicken. Use thighs with most of the fat removed.  The marinade is soy sauce, chopped white and soft part of a  lemon grass stalk, 3 kaffir lime leaves cut in Julienne strips, salt and chili pepper. Take a piece of whole kaffir lime leaf and tuck it under the skin. Take the top hard part of the lemon grass, cut to about 4 inches long and use as skewers. Stick each piece of chicken with the lemon grass stalk to keep the skin from separating. Kaffir lime is a favorite in Thai and Indian dishes. My kaffir lime tree has been my source of the fragrant leaves for many years back in New York. I ordered it  from a Florida citrus grower, brought it with us on the move and it is now in our backyard enjoying the Florida sun, never to be brought again indoor to escape the Northeast winter.

Shrimp. Shell the shrimp leaving the last segment intact. Slit the top of each shrimp allowing for the removal of the black vein. Arrange in a platter and top with sliced scallions, crushed peanuts, salt, pepper and drizzle with canola oil. Grill using a tabletop stone grill, just like how they serve this dish in Vietnamese restaurants. Unless you are using a grilling basket, this is not appropriate to grill in an outdoor grill.

Lemon and Fish-Sauce or Nouc Cham. Using the finest blade of a Japanese mandolin, grate a small carrot  and 2 cloves of garlic or cut them into paper-thin strips. In a bowl, mix the juice of 2-3 lemons (about 1/4 cup), 1/4 c fish sauce, 1/4 c water,  1 T  sugar, sliced hot pepper according to your Scoville tolerance.

For dessert, in honor of our new and old home, Key Lime Cheesecake. A family member brought coconut flan topped with red, white and blue!

Happy summer!