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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Dim Sum

If you've ever had an appetizer and said "I could make a meal of that", this is the post for you!  We've got names for this concept from a variety of culinary cultures...Spanish tapas, Italian antipasti, Chinese dim sum...making a meal of several small plates of varying foods. 

These recipes are adapted from the Frugal Gourmet's Three Ancient Cuisines.  In spite of being a meal composed of multiple attention-needing dishes (I don't usually plan to give significant attention to more than 1 dish in a meal), it came together pretty quickly and with a lot fewer swear words than I expected.

Steamer basket workaround
One of the beauties of dim sum is how easily the recipes lend themselves to prepping or making ahead.  I prepped all the sauces the night before (chopped/measured/combined ingredients), made the dumpling dough the night before, formed the dumplings right before dinner (but could have prepped them earlier if the dough was ready) and was able to cook everything in 15 inattentive minutes at the last minute.  All these dishes could have been prepped and frozen ahead as well, or fully cooked ahead and reheated in a steamer.

Speaking of steamers, the stacked bamboo steamer is apparently a staple in a Chinese kitchen.  I don't have one.  I do have a variety of metal steaming baskets, cooling racks, and ceramic ramekins that I assembled into a 3-tier arrangement inside of a large stock pot.  Work with what you've got!

The squid/calamari recipe originally calls for plain, cleaned squid to be stirfried with aromatics and sauce.  My grocery store only had pre-breaded calamari, so I decided to oven-bake the calamari and toss it with the sauce which I prepared using the microwave. 

Calamari, dumplings and meatballs
The dumpling filling calls for using leftover Chinese BBQ pork and a bit of napa cabbage, but you could use any combination of cooked meat and vegetable you want (or go totally vegetarian and skip the meat).  If you've got a small serving of leftover steamed veg of any type, I'd use that rather than cooking additional vegetables for the filling.  Also, if you have a premade stirfry sauce, you can use about 3 tbsp of that rather than measuring half-teaspoons of all the ingredients listed below.  Just add a bit of cornstarch if necessary to thicken the mixture.  Again, I made use of the microwave to deal with what is really a small bit of filling.

Spicy Calamari
Makes 4-6 servings

1 lb. package breaded calamari, prepared according to package directions
1 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp finely minced garlic
1 tsp finely minced ginger
2 green onions, chopped
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sherry or rice wine
dash hot sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 3 tbsp water

Mix oil, garlic and ginger in a medium microwave-safe bowl.  Heat in 30 second increments on high until garlic sizzles.  Add green onions, soy sauce, sherry, hot sauce and sesame oil.  Heat 30 seconds more.  Stir in cornstarch slurry and heat another 30 seconds, until thickened.  Toss with hot cooked calamari.

Steamed Pork Dumplings
Makes 24 dumplings

For dough:
1/2 cup warm water
1 cup warmed milk
1 tbsp sugar or honey
4 1/2 cups flour (I'm using 3 cups bread flour, 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour)
2 pkgs active dry yeast or 1 1/2 tbsp yeast

For filling:
1/2 lb. leftover Chinese BBQ pork, minced
1/4 cup finely chopped napa cabbage or other precooked veggie
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
1/2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp cornstarch mixed with 1 tsp water

To make dough, combine water, milk and honey in a large bowl.  Stir in yeast and flour until it forms a shaggy mass.  Knead a few minutes, then cover and let rise until doubled 1 to 1 1/2 hours (longer for a whole wheat dough).  Punch down and cut into 24 pieces.

To make filling, combine all filling ingredients (the food processor is good for getting the pork very finely chopped).  Microwave 1-2 minutes to cook the veg if using raw cabbage. 

To make dumplings, press each piece of dough into a thin circle about 4" in diameter.  Spoon 1 tbsp of filling in the center, and gather the edges up to seal.  Pinch firmly and set the dumpling down on the sealed seam.  Complete all dumplings.  Freeze if desired.  Cover and put in the fridge several hours or overnight; alternately, allow to rise 30 minutes at room temperature if steaming right away.

To steam, thaw if frozen.  Add water to a large stockpot to come to a level just below the lowest steaming rack you'll use.  Spritz the racks with cooking spray.  Arrange dumplings on racks and arrange racks in the pot before beginning to cook.  Cover with a lid and turn to the heat to high.  When steam begins to form, reduce heat to medium and steam 15 minutes. Pin It

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