Lo mai gai, the dim sum classic of steamed lotus leaves stuffed with sticky rice and all sorts of delicious goodies, are irresistible from the moment you unwrap one fresh from the steamer and a chorus of aromas hits your nose. The biggest task is gathering all the ingredients, like the lotus leaves and glutinous rice, as well as Chinese sausage, cured pork belly, and salted egg yolks. Once you've got them rounded up, though, it's a relatively easy and extremely delicious at-home dish.
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Smooth and a little sweet with a mild soybean flavor, fresh bean curd skin is a delicacy. At dim sum houses, it's often stuffed with a mixture of ground pork with mushrooms and ginger, then bathed in a mild yet rich chicken-stock-based sauce. While it's typically a breakfast item, these rolls also make a good dinner dish when served with rice alongside.
Plump and juicy, with chunks of shrimp barely visible through translucent dough, har gow are one of the most widely recognized dim sum classics. Ours enhance the shrimp with bits of pork fat in a stretchy, delicate wrapper.
Though they're a dim sum classic, braised chicken feet (A.K.A. phoenix claws) can be a challenge for those unused to eating them. It takes a little while to get used to the plump claws sticking out of a little bowl, and a bit of work to get at the meat in between the tiny bones, but the flavor-packed rewards are well worth the mental and physical effort.
A staple for breakfast and lunch in many Asian countries, congee is rice and water (or broth) cooked down into a thick porridge. Everyone does it slightly different. It can be cooked using different grains of rice, different kinds and amounts of liquid, and different cooking times. Every choice can affect the final flavor and consistency. After much trial and error, I've arrived at the ideal recipe for a congee that's silky and comforting instead of sludgy or overly heavy.
I'm fond of all poultry feet. Goose and duck feet have ample amounts of webbing; when stewed, they are delicate and tender with a hint of chewiness that resembles the texture of simmered sheets of bean curd. While goose and duck feet are more prized in Chinese cuisine, I prefer the meatiness of a chicken's foot.