Dabbling in dim sum

Trying new things keeps life interesting in the kitchen.  Among the fails and dishes that I'd probably only make once, there's always the possibility of discovering a new family favorite.  I also just love learning how my favorite foods are made.  It's like uncovering the magician's secret and, oftentimes, the "trick" is not nearly as hard as I imagined (though sometimes, it is).

Most of the time, my cooking experiments are spurred on by things I like to eat, something delicious we had at a restaurant, or some kind of food memory.  Inspiration is everywhere and there is no lack of it!  One of my inspirations have been the great Chinese-food blog, The Woks of LifeI've been able to re-create some of our favorite Cantonese dishes thanks to their very authentic recipes.  Lately, it tempted me into dabbling in a little dim sum-making at home!

First up, Chinese Sausage Buns...
Chinese sausage buns before steaming
Growing up, we routinely went out for dim sum on the weekends.  I have to be honest...I often dreaded it because it meant crowds and long waits as hoards of people descend on their favorite/local dim sum spot, which just happens to be yours as well.  It's still like that in many places and I don't go out for dim sum all that often but, of course, much of the food is the stuff of my childhood food memories.  One such was the Chinese sausage bun.  You might not be familiar with it if you didn't grow up eating it.  It's now practically extinct; I can't remember the last time I ate one or saw them being offered in a dim sum restaurant or Chinese bakery.  

Apparently, other people share my nostalgia because The Woks of Life has a recipe and I thought I'd give it a try.  Before this endeavor, I didn't own a bamboo steamer.  I quickly equipped myself and began my little dim sum project.
Chinese sausage buns steamed and ready to eat!
Working with yeast dough is always a bit daunting but at least in this case, I could focus on the dough since the Chinese sausages themselves are bought, ready to use after steaming.  Once I got the hang of working the dough and rolling it out, these Chinese sausage buns weren't that hard to make!  I thought it tasted like childhood - the distinctly sweet yet savory Chinese sausage encased in the soft bun was spot on!

Then I attempted Steamed Roast Pork Buns...

I moved on and thought I'd challenge myself with my son's favorite dim sum item, the roast pork bun.  This project did not go quite as well.
I had a hard time with the dough but tried to make it work, with the end result above
Making the filling was relatively easy, as I bought the main ingredient - the roast pork.  I had trouble with the dough.  It was dry and tough, making it difficult to roll and shape.  I wish I could say I knew exactly what I did wrong or could do next time to mitigate the issues but I really can't.  I think steamed roast pork buns will have to be enjoyed at dim sum restaurants (luckily, still readily available).
The saving grace is while my homemade buns might not have looked or been like the prototype, they were still infinitely edible.  No buns were wasted, and if the buns themselves were a little dense and not fluffy as they were supposed to be, my family (particularly, my husband) insisted they were great.  The flavor of the filling and the sweetness was there - I was missing that lofty bun texture.  All in, it was a great learning experience and I will be sure to appreciate the roast pork buns a lot more when I next have one at a restaurant.


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