Tag Archives: dim sum

Dim Sum: Shrimp and Mushroom Congee

Name: Congee
Primary Ingredient(s): Rice, Shrimp, Mushrooms
Type of Dish: soup/porridge
Method of Preparation: Slow Simmer

In my travels, and amongst the 3-dozen-some Dim Sum places I have been to in my life time (which is, effectively, a sample size of near zero), I have only been offered congee once by a trolley that was rolling around the restaurant.

This is not to say that congee is rare in a dim sum restaurant, but rather it is one that must be ordered. Congee is likely on the menu, it’s just that most people who are bedazzled by the trolley carts do not realize that there are still foods that one can order.

At its core, congee is rice porridge, left to cook overnight to become a thick soup. But to state that this is all congee is does it a disservice, for there are as many different takes on the soup as there are ingredients that one can put into it. Much like regular rice, congee works best as a medium to which other flavors are added.

For the example above? There’s clearly cabbage, green onions, and mushrooms, and beneath the surface, is a bit of shrimp. This is what was delivered to me when I asked, and by itself, it makes a good enough meal. But then I could have added chili oil, soy sauce, or red vinegar (all options on my table). This is not only acceptable, but encouraged. And these additions change the dish from something good to something even better.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of variations of this dish, including the use of grains other than rice to make the base soup. I’ve even been offered a dish by a friend who had crumbled potato chips on top of the soup. If you’ve never had congee, seek one out. It’s a dish worth exploring.


Dim Sum Experts Needed:What the Hell Did I Just Eat?

To all of you Dim Sum experts out there, I’m apologizing before hand on letting you down. Being a non-Dim Sum expert, there are times when I order something to which I have absolutely no knowledge, and then hope I can look up information on it later on. Typing enough description into Google, I can typically find enough data to fill in the blanks for me.

This time, I’ve seem to run into a wall. So I turn to those of you who bleed chili paste and soy sauce. I ask simply – What the hell is this?

In the bowl is something that has been steam and has a mashed potato consistency, but with more flavor. It has been topped with bits o’ pork, and then a sweetened soy sauce. I’m thinking this is either radish pudding, turnip pudding, or some variation thereof, but I am unsure. Any help or path to go down would be much appreciated.

Thanks!


Dim Sum: Xian Zhu Neu Rou (Meat Balls)

Noble Court – Bellevue, WA – 6/6/2011

Name: Xian Zhu Neu Rou
Primary Ingredient(s): Beef
Type of Dish: Meat
Method of Preparation: Steamed

I haven’t done one of these in a while, so it is time.

From a beginner’s perspective, it’s always good to find a dish that seems familiar. This dish fits squarely into that category. Let’s face it – meatballs are about as familiar one can get in Dim Sum.

From an expert’s perspective, meat balls, because of their ubiquity, can provide insight into how good (or not good) the kitchen can be. If a place screws up something as simple as meatball, how can you count on them to provide any level of quality to dim sum dishes that require a more delicate touch? Yes, it may be difficult to make a bad meatball. It’s difficult, but certainly not impossible.

Meatballs aren’t often the first choice when I head into a dim sum restaurant, as I wish to explore the unknown (to me) rather than a food that can be found in nearly every culture on the planet. However, there are times when it is worth it, especially when looking to taste other aspects of what a restaurant has to offer. It is when I get a meatball that I tend to turn to the condiments on the table to provide some level of excitement to the dish, and I’ve chili oil (or chili paste) and meatballs make a tremendous pairing. Granted, most restaurants tend to use a store bought brand of condiments, but there are times when a place will make their own. These are the places that should hold a special place in your soul.

..and, as always, my chinese is little more than a guess. Feel free to correct.


More Food Porn: Pan Fried Shrimp Dumplings

At the moment, my favorite food in the world is Dim Sum. This will undoubtedly change over time. But for now, I’m enjoying moments such as this.


Dim Sum: Panfried Green Pepper

Bamboo Garden – Seattle, WA – 10/9/2010

Name: Panfried Stuffed Pepper (Ga heung yeung ching jiu)
Primary Ingredient(s): Shrimp Paste (or Fish Paste), Green Pepper
Type of Dish: Stuffed Vegetable
Method of Preparation: Pan Fried

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, so I am due. Tara and I made our way out to Wallingford the other day, to partake in the Dim Sum of Bamboo Village as Nancy Lesson suggested in our local paper. We had arrived at opening (10:30am), and within fifteen minutes, the place was packed.

I’ll avoid reviewing the place, as that is not the purpose of these posts, and instead tell you of one of the more popular dishes you can find on the dim sum cart – Panfried Stuffed Pepper.

I have the Chinese name for the dish – 煎釀青椒 – but I have no idea on how to pronounce that, so it’s of little help to those of you looking to directly order the dish. But as the dish is so accessible to the western palate (as the green pepper is quite familiar to us) that it’s quite likely to be one of the standards you see on the cart. Asking for “stuffed pepper” will likely work.

So what will you get? It depends from place to place, but it will be a variation of either fish paste, or shrimp paste caked onto a slice of pepper. That’s really all there is to it. This will then be panfried until cooked, and then sent out onto the cart, sometimes covered in a sauce. Bamboo Village topped theirs with a black-bean sauce which complimented the shrimp paste-cake quite well.

I have learned something about shrimp paste which is valuable to repeat. The quality of this dish varies from location to location with good reason. There are some places that make their own paste on site. There are others who use a pre-made paste as ordered from their restaurant supplier. The difference is apparent, albeit a bit nuanced. My guess is this – if one restaurant’s paste tastes a little different from the others in the area, then the first restaurant likely makes their paste on site. The more common the taste of the paste, the more likely it is that the restaurants are all buying from the same supplier.

As I said, this is a purely guess on my part.

But let’s presume you’re a newcomer to the world of dim sum. Is this dish worth your time? I believe so. The use of green pepper gives it universal appeal, and the shrimp paste (or fish paste) can be used as a stepping stone to the more exotic dishes found on the carts. If you’re new to dim sum, I would recommend you seeking this dish out on your first or no later than second visit.


Dim Sum: Shanghai Dumpling (Xiao Long Bao)

Name: Xiao Long Bao
Primary Ingredient(s): Pork, Shrimp
Type of Dish: Dumpling
Method of Preparation: Steamed

Yank Sing – San Francisco, CA – 5/30/2010

I haven’t done one of these in a while, and I am long overdue. The recent journey to San Francisco gave me the opportunity to partake in some Dim Sum that falls outside of the realm of the popular here in the Seattle area. This allowed me to have a dish called a Shanghai Dumpling, something that I have yet to come across here in the Emerald City.

Trying to explain a Shanghai Dumpling is akin to trying to describe a comfortable night’s rest. While a fair amount of the Dim Sum I’ve had has been sturdy, hearty fare, the Shanghai Dumpling is something else entirely. Soft and delicate, it sits in a spoon like a pillow. If made well, it gives the appearance as if it will fall apart if someone gave it a rude glance.

It also comes with a bit of a ritual about it, which makes it additionally attractive to me. As it was explained to me, a bit of vinegar must be placed within a soup spoon; a hot dumpling should be placed upon the vinegar; and a bit of shredded ginger should be placed upon the dumpling. It is then to be eaten immediately.

The result is a course that breaks the onslaught of deep fried dumplings and sturdy steamed hum baos. It’s like a bridge before a chorus, a tender ballad before some Memphis blues, delicate foreplay before intercourse. Do you sense a running theme here?

As I’ve been discovering over the past year or so, there are dozens, if not hundreds of different Dim Sum dishes that are out there. Shanghai Dumplings are one of only a few that have obtained cult status. There’s a good reason for that.


The Accidental Hedonist Guide to Dim Sum

There are two possible ways to approach Dim Sum.

  1. You can be an expert in the field, giving your thoughts and opinions based off of your thousands of hours of experiences regarding said topic.Or.
  2. You can approach the topic as a complete ignoramus, claiming no experience at all, and choosing to learn about Dim Sum as an outside who wants to learn, and is willing to take the time to understand the hows and whys.

I have chosen the second way. So take any information learned here with a grain of salt.

Okay, two grains of salt and a teaspoon of sugar.

Having been raised in a part of America where Chinese restaurants began with deep dried egg rolls and ended with General Tso’s chicken, Dim Sum was a new experience for me when I hit the West Coast way back in 2003. After my first experience, I vowed to learn more. The posts listed below are my attempts at understand the who, what, and hows of this great tradition.

History

  • What is Dim Sum?

Experiences

Tea

Dishes

(NOTE: I will sometimes have the same dish in two different categories, mostly because some dishes are not easily defined by one single category.)

Buns

  • BBQ Pork Bun (Char Siu Bau)
    BBQ Pork Bun

 

 

 

Congee

Deep Fried Dishes

  • Taro Dumpling (Wu Gok)
    Taro Dumpling

 

 

 

Dips and Sauces

Dumplings

  • Pork and Shrimp Dumpling (Shao Mai)
    Shaomai

 

 

  • Shanghai Dumpling (Xiao Long Bao)
  • Shrimp Dumpling (Ha Gao)
    Shrimp Dumpling
  • Taro Dumpling (Wu Gok)
    Taro Dumpling

 

 

 

Meats

  • Chicken Feet (Foong Jow)

 

 

  • Roast Duck (Siu Ngap)
    Roast Duck

 

 

 

Pan Fried Dishes

  • Panfried Stuffed Pepper(Ga heung yeung ching jiu)
    Panfried Stuffed Pepper

 

 

  • Turnip Cake (Law Bahk Go)

 

 

  • Shrimp-Stuffed Eggplant (Yeung Qi Dze)
    Shrimp Stuffed Eggplant

 

 

 

Rice

  • Glutinous Rice with Chicken & Chinese Sausage (Ngor Mai Gai)

 

 

 

Seafood

  • Shrimp-Stuffed Eggplant (Yeung Qi Dze)
    Shrimp Stuffed Eggplant

 

  • Panfried Stuffed Pepper(Ga heung yeung ching jiu)
    Panfried Stuffed Pepper

 

 

 

Sweets

  • Egg Custard Tart (Dahn Ta)

 

 

 

Vegetables

  • Chinese Broccoli (Kai Lan)
    Kai-lan (aka Chinese Broccoli)

 

 

 

Restaurant Guides

San Francisco, CA

  • Yank Sing: 49 Stevenson St. San Francisco, CA 94105, (415)541-4949 Google Maps: Website

Bellevue, WA

  • The Noble Court: 1644 140th Avenue Northeast Bellevue, WA 98005-2302, (425) 641-6011 : Google Maps: Website

Renton, WA

  • The Tea Palace: 2828 Sunset Ln NE, Renton, WA‎ – (425) 277-8600‎: Google Maps: Website

Seattle, WA

  • Jade Garden: 424 7th Avenue South, Seattle, WA‎ – (206) 622-8181‎: Google Maps:
  • Ocean City: 2609 South Weller Street, Seattle, WA‎ – (206) 623-2333‎: Google Maps: Website
  • Purple Dot Cafe: 515 Maynard Avenue South, Seattle, WA‎ – (206) 622-0288‎: Google Maps
  • Sun-Ya:605 7th Avenue South, Seattle, WA‎ – (206) 623-1670‎: Google Maps

Usual Disclaimer: This is a work in progress, and will likely always be a work in progress. So if there’s something missing here, I probably have some plans to address that at some point in the future.

Additionally, I am human, which means I make mistakes. If you see something wrong, I would love it if you pointed me in the right direction. Feel free to e-mail me at Kate AT accidentalhedonist DOT com with any tips, hints, or advice you may have.

Rude and insulting e-mails will be deleted without a second thought.