When hitting up the closest dim sum restaurant feels about as easy as traveling to China, creating a downscale experience at home is the answer, and the Dim Sum Classics we've been writing about all week are a great place to start. Your complete menu, after the jump!
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.
With bright pink chunks of plump shrimp veiled in thin, stretchy, translucent dough, har gow—crystal-skinned shrimp dumplings—may well be the most popular dim sum classic of all. You may think there's a lot of difficult technique involved in getting those shrimp so plump and the skins so delicate, but it's really much easier than it seems.
Braised chicken feet are a dim sum classic that don't get much love in this country. So why learn to cook them? Provided you can get over the mental hurdle, they're actually one of the most flavor-packed dim sum dishes around. Give them a shot and you may well find yourself fighting for that last claw so that you can suck every flavorful bit of skin and cartilage from between the tiny bones.
A staple for breakfast and lunch in many Asian countries, and a mainstay at the dim sum hall, congee is rice and water (or broth) cooked down into a thick porridge. After much trial and error, I've arrived at the ideal recipe for a congee that's silky and comforting while not being sludgy or overly heavy.
Fluffy and sweet, lotus seed buns are a popular treat at Chinese bakeries. As the name implies, they're flavored with a paste made from lotus flower seeds, which have a light, chestnut-like flavor. This recipe for homemade buns has been perfected to work with either low-gluten flour, or all-purpose. Hot from the steamer, they're a confection not to be missed. The only thing that could make them either better is a cup of bubble tea.
This no-bake dessert flavored with black sesame seeds and honey is a perfect, elegant warm-weather dessert. Its texture is similar to panna cotta, except that it's slightly less jiggly and a little bit more creamy.
This quick and simple stir-fry features cod that's been water-velveted—an easy technique that guarantees tender, silky meat. Light, delicate and full of gently cooked vegetables, it's a perfect dish in a multi-course meat-heavy menu.
This quick and simple stir-fry features both fresh and dried mushrooms for maximum flavor and texture, and chicken that's been water-velveted—an easy technique that guarantees tender, silky meat.
This easy stir-fry of pork with vegetables and sweet-and-sour sauce uses a great, hassle-free water-velveting technique for tender, silky strips of meat.
Velveting meat is a common practice in Chinese stir-fries: By marinating strips of meat with egg white and cornstarch, then dipping then in a hot oil bath before finally stir-frying them, the meat develops a texture that is tender, silky, and smooth. But the hot oil bath is cumbersome for home cooks. Here's how to do it with water instead at home, with just-as-good results.
This dish, from the Hakka Chinese community, is an offal lover's dream: snappy omasum (bible) tripe stir-fried with tart mustard greens, fermented black beans, and red chilies.
This quick-to-cook stir-fry of eggs with shrimp, Chinese chives, garlic, and ginger is popular among Cantonese home cooks for both its ease and wonderful flavor. It's a good example of the mild aromatic flavor base common to Cantonese cooking, here with Chinese chives in place of the more common scallions.
Does China have an aromatic-vegetable equivalent to French mirepoix? Not exactly, but there are some general categories that are helpful in understanding how Chinese flavor bases work. In the second part of this series, we take a closer look at one of them: The more mild ginger, garlic, and scallion flavor base of Guangdong province's famed Cantonese cooking.
Does China have an aromatic-vegetable equivalent to French mirepoix? Not exactly, but there are some general categories that are helpful in understanding how Chinese flavor bases work. Here, we take a closer look at one of them: Spicy aromatics with garlic and chilies that are famous in Hunan and Sichuan cooking.
In this series on the most common aromatic flavor bases of Chinese cooking, we're looking first at those regions famous for their spicy garlic-and-chili flavors. Today, Kung Pao made with fish instead of chicken serves as an example of Sichuan's mouth-numbing, hot mala style, characterized by dried chilies, Sichuan peppercorns, and garlic.
In this first installment of our series on the most common aromatic flavor bases of Chinese cooking, we look at the famously fiery heat of Hunanese food through the lens of this classic and simple dish of hand-torn cabbage stir-fried with garlic, scallions, and fresh red chilies.
What are the most common Chinese greens, and how to cook them? We break it down, with recipes for methods like stir-frying with garlic or fermented black beans, poached and served with a drizzle of oyster sauce, and served in a rich broth.
Crunchy and tender baby bok choy goes for a spin with a punchy sauce made with lots of garlic and fermented black beans. It's a flavor-packed stir-fry with minimal prep and all the flavor, minus the gloppy sauce.
Of all the techniques we've covered in the series so far, this one is the easiest. First you blanch your greens in boiling water. Then you sauté some garlic and add some broth, pour it over the greens, and you're done. I can't think of an easier way to put a delicious side dish on the table.
This dish, which is made up of equal parts beef and greens in a light but flavor-packed black bean sauce with garlic doesn't quite qualify as a side dish, and seeing as I'm using a mixture of kale and frisée—two decidedly Western greens—it doesn't quite qualify as "Chinese greens" either. But the basic techniques I use in ut—just a quick stir-fry with no blanching—is a method that works with any kind of hearty green leafy vegetable, whether it's Chinese or not.
Stir-frying in a light sauce flavored with a little soy sauce and a lot of garlic is my go-to method for cooking Asian greens. Quick, simple, and flavorful, it's really hard to go wrong, no matter which greens you decide to cook.
Crispy and a little saucy, egg noodles pan-fried until they form a crispy-on-the-outside, tender-in-the-middle cake is a classic Hong Kong and Guangzhou dish. A nest of egg noodles are fried in a wok until golden brown and topped with a combination of stir-fried meat, seafood, or vegetables. Here's how to make my favorite version, topped with seafood in a light gravy.
Simply simmered Chinese broccoli has a hearty flavor that pairs well with oyster sauce in this classic Cantonese preparation. Our version adds some fried garlic to the mix, using the flavorful garlic oil to amp up flavor.
From crispy pan-fried noodles to a bowl of wonton noodle soup, fresh Chinese egg noodles are a staple of Chinese restaurants. Just like Italian pasta or ramen, when cooked properly, they should have a firm bite and springy texture, and the wide variation in thickness and springiness makes Chinese egg noodles some of the most versatile to cook with.
Glazed carrots are a classic holiday side dish and an easy stove-top preparation, but I like to mix it up a bit with some Asian flavors. For this recipe, I combine a medley of sweet root vegetables: carrots, sweet potatoes, and red beets. Instead of a traditional butter and sugar glaze, they're finished in a mixture of soy sauce, honey, and sesame oil, with a touch of ginger and lemon juice for flavoring.
Sautéing a stalk or two of celery, plus a few slices of Chinese sausage, a little bit of chili pepper and lots of garlic, is my go-to dish to cook when I don't know what I want to eat. It is quick to make, economical, and perfect with a bowl of rice. This is a twist on my go-to dish, which combines celery with celery root, fennel, Chinese sausage, and tons of garlic. Thai-style nam prik pao—a roasted chili jam—adds heat and a savory, roasted aroma.
If you've ever had bibimbap, the red sauce on the side is mainly comprised of gochujang, a fermented Korean chili paste. It's a great ingredient for marinades that need a little heat or in stir-fried dishes. Today, I'm using it in a salad dressing for a light salad of greens, vegetables, and chicken poached in sake.
Soy sauce and butter is one of my favorite flavor combinations and when the weather gets colder, I like to combine it with one of my favorite squashes: sweet and intense kabocha. When roasted, the flavors all intensify and the texture becomes creamy and satisfying.
Everybody's heard of Kale Caesar Salads by now, right? In this recipe, I take that same concept and switch out the flavors for a creamy sesame and soy-based dressing made with creamy tahini, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and black pepper. I also added some turnip greens and arugula to the salad mix to make things a bit more interesting.