April 2, 2019

Dabbling in dim sum, continued

After my last post, I continued to dabble some more in dim sum-making at home.  It's fun to challenge myself to try something new and, lately, it's been dim sum and Chinese food making beyond what I'm used to.  
If you like seafood, chances are steamed shrimp dumplings (or "har gow") are a must when it comes to dim sum.  They're sometimes called "crystal shrimp dumplings", referring to their signature translucent skin from which you can see the coral pink of the shrimp peeking through.  It's a dim sum classic and something I always get when I'm having dim sum at a Chinese restaurant.
This har gow project was definitely a challenge but worth the effort to, in the end, get to sit down with my husband and enjoy our own homemade har gow in the comfort of home.  It's just neat to learn how things are made.  And it turns out, the har gow skin is made from a combination of wheat starch and cornstarch; I had to make the dough three times to get it right but it was due to my own error and mix up.  In the end, I still found the dough difficult/fragile to handle but using a little extra wheat starch helped the maneuverability and I plowed on...
The filling was a lot simpler to whip together.  The shrimp is the star but it's also important to get your hands on a can of bamboo shoots because it's a must in this recipe and not to be omitted, as those bamboo shoots give the har gow a distinct crunch.  
The dough being a lot harder (stickier than I expected, easy to break) to maneuver than I expected, I exercised as much patience and care as I could muster in pleating and shaping the har gow and somehow managed to put some into my steamer basket!  
Luckily, a lot of flaws are hidden after steaming and I thought my homemade har gow looked the part (admittedly, expectations were low going in).  They may not be restaurant-quality (the skin being a little too thick and not as supple as they should be; not to mention general appearance as far as pleating goes) but they were pretty close to the real thing.  I loved the flavor of the filling and thought that was spot on.   

Now bamboo-steamer expeditions aside, sometimes you order off the menu when you go for dim sum.  If it's around the lunch hour, the kitchen opens up to provide heartier fare and they start taking orders for other dishes - particularly noodles.  One of my favorites is saucy beef ho fun (flat) noodles.

Noodles come in so many forms but I rarely meet one I don't like.  That said, I have to say that flat rice noodles are probably my very favorite kind.  For this dish, look for fresh flat noodles at an Asian grocery store.  They come in a plastic bag and you'll take it home and slice them to the size you need.
Saucy beef flat noodles (or "ho fun" as the noodles are called in Cantonese) is one of my favorite dim sum lunch dishes.  A lot of people prefer the "dry fried" variety of this noodle dish but I particularly love the sauce.  It's hard to see the brown sauce in the pictures here but believe me when I say there was just the right amount of brown sauce pooling at the bottom of my plate after the noodles were eaten.
A lot of dim sum dishes go well with some spicy chili oil so I made sure to get some for my husband (I'm a purist in this case).  I was really happy eating this dish.  I think eating noodles makes me happy, period, but this tasted great - like a healthier/lighter version of my dim sum restaurant favorite.  It reminded me that I hadn't had this old-favorite for too long.  I'm so pleased I can now make this when the craving hits and I want to enjoy it at home!

So much of the dim sum undertaking - and cooking, in general - is about nostalgia.  Re-creating those moments of delight when we eat something that's delicious and brings back happy memories.  To that end, I recently made another old-school favorite - this one dating way back to my childhood in Hong Kong and then to early days in New York's chinatown when we'd buy and eat curry fish balls, mainly from street vendors.  It is a classic Hong Kong street food (often sold on a stick like I tried to mimic below).
I'm seriously thankful to The Woks of Life for the treasure trove of amazingly authentic Chinese recipes that I've been working my way through (including but not limited to the 3 mentioned here in this post)!  In think my husband is particularly thankful!  He has a special affinity for curry and saucy dishes that can be eaten with rice.  The curry fish balls were a big hit.  They tasted just like we remembered they should and all the extra sauce in this recipe was a bonus for a big bowl of rice.  
The recipes I mention here were all sensational in their own way - well worth the time and effort to recreate at home.  I have been one happy student!


Har Gow (Dim Sum Shrimp Dumplings)
Recipe/instructions from The Woks of Life

Sauce Beef Ho Fun Noodles
Recipe/instructions from The Woks of Life

Hong Kong-style Curry Fish Balls 
Recipe/instructions from The Woks of Life


  1. wow They look just like from the Cantonese restaurants! Good job, Monica. I want esp. the fried noodles with beef!

    1. Thanks - the beef noodles just might be my favorite, too.

  2. Everything looks delicious! Especially the curry fish balls. Have not had these in ages. We just found an awesome Asian food market about an hour away so can't wait to try some of these goodies.

    1. Thank you! It's not that common to find these curry fish balls anymore so it's great to crack the code and know how to make it. I love finding a good food market...enjoy!

  3. I see the greatest contents on your blog and I extremely love reading them.
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