Dim Sum: Har Gow 蝦餃

This is my fourth attempt at trying to make my favorite dim sum: Har Gow, which is a traditional type of steamed dumpling served during dim sum, the Chinese equivalent of brunch but without the alcohol. It’s widely known that this dish is the ONE that dim sum chefs are judged on because it’s the epitome of dim sum. Whenever I try a new dim sum spot, I do indeed judge everything about the restaurant on their quality of har gow.

There are so many recipes and resources available yet none of them are foolproof nor tested out to yield perfect results. I have been trying to get the dough recipe down to perfection and for the previous three times, I have failed due to the dough. The filling is easy; it’s basically just shrimp and you can add in bamboo shoots or water chestnuts or something else to give it some texture.

I’m not that skilled yet in rolling dough into perfect circles so I used a ring mold to cut out 3½-inch circles.

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Makes approximately 20 dumplings.

For the Filling

  • 3 water chestnuts
  • 1 lb shrimp
  • 1-inch ginger, microplaned
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp ground white pepper
  • 2 tsp sesame oil

Peel and finely mince the water chestnuts into little cubes.

Peel and de-vien the shrimp. Then using the side of your knife, smash the shrimp and roughly chop them. Place them into a mixing bowl. Add all other ingredients except for water chestnuts. Thoroughly mix shrimp until it gets sticky, add the water chestnuts just to combine, and place in refrigerator until ready to use.

For the Dough

  • 1 cup wheat starch
  • ½ cup tapioca starch
  • 6 TBS/3 oz. boiling water
  • 1 TBS oil

In a mixing bowl, add the two starches and using a spoon, stir starches while slowly adding the boiling water. Continue to stir until the mixture has turned translucent. Add the oil next and continue to stir. While the dough is still hot but cool enough to handle, knead the dough for a few minutes until it becomes a smooth dough ball. Cover the dough with a damp paper towel while you set up your steamer.

I noticed that my bamboo steamer just barely fits into my rice cooker so I steamed them that way since I have two bamboo steamers so I could fit 12 dumplings per steam, instead of using the steamer rack that comes with the rice cooker.

TO ASSEMBLE

Roll dough into a long cylinder and either cut or tear off little 1-inch pieces and roll them into 3½-inch (diameter) circles. Place a little filling in the center and wrap dumplings. It’s difficult to explain how to wrap them and there are several ways to close dumplings. Do what works best for you or YouTube it.

Make sure that dumplings have an inch of expanding space during the cooking process. Steam for 10 minutes and serve with soy and chili sauces.

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Linguine Misto Mare

I was looking through my posts and I haven’t done a seafood medley pasta dish yet.

I just have to say, my scallops were cooked to the utmost perfection.

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Serves 4.

[100% organic, wild scallops, environmentally sustainable shrimp, PEI mussels, Manila clams]

For the Seafood Medley

  • 1 lb shrimp, with head and shell on
  • 4 sea scallops
  • 1 lb mussels
  • 1 lb clams
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and white pepper

Peel the shrimp but keep the tails intact. Reserve heads and shrimp shells for shrimp stock.

Clean, scrub, and soak mussels and clams in salted cold water for 15 minutes. De-beard mussels. Cook mussels and clams, separately or together, using simple aromatics (shallots, parsley stems, garlic, black peppercorns, bay leaves, and dry white wine). Strain each jus for future use and keep shellfish warm.

Heat a large pan over high heat and when the pan is hot, add in 2 TBS olive oil. Season the shrimp with salt and white pepper and sauté. Cook until shrimp are curled and pink but not quite cooked through. Remove the shrimp with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl. Sear the scallops in a clean pan and also keep them a little undercooked so when you put the shrimp and the scallops into the sauce, the residual heat from the sauce will continue cooking the seafood.

For the Shrimp Stock

  • Reserved shrimp heads and shells
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3 cups water
  • Bouquet garni

Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and when the pan is hot, add olive oil and the shrimp heads and shells. Sauté until the shells turn red. Add the wine, water, and a loose bouqent garni, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the stock for 30 minutes.

Turn off the heat and let the stock sit for 30 minutes for the flavor to deepen. Strain the liquid and discard solids.

For the Sauce

  • ½ head garlic, finely minced
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 2 tsp red chili pepper flakes
  • 2 TBS tomato paste
  • Reserved shrimp stock
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes, with juice
  • ¼ cup parsley, finely chopped
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and white pepper

In a large pan on medium-high heat, add 2 TBS of olive oil and sauté the chopped onions, until the onions start to soften. Add the garlic, thyme, and crushed chili red pepper flakes, tomato paste, and sauté for 1 minute. Pour in the shrimp stock and bring it to a boil. Reduce to about 1 cup, scraping the bottom of the pan to dissolve any browned bits that may be there.

Add the crushed tomatoes, season with salt and white pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat so the sauce is simmering and cook for another 10 minutes. Add the parsley and seafood, cover, and turn off the heat.

For the Linguine

  • 1 lb linguine
  • Few drops of oil
  • Salt

Boil the linguine in salted water and add a few drops of oil to prevent sticking. Cook until al dente, drain, and toss with sauce.

TO ASSEMBLE

Spoon pasta and seafood into bowls, either serve scallops whole to each plate or cut into quarters. Drizzle extra sauce and serve with toasted bread!

Beet Frisée Watercress Salad with Orange Suprêmes & Candied Zest

This was the first course to my 6-course New Year’s Day Dinner party for 8 people.

I have adapted Oceana‘s beet salad. I was very happy with this dish and at the same time, I found out that burnt candied orange zest goes so well as a garnish for a cocktail drink – Red Lion (Gin, Cointreau, orange juice, lemon juice, Grenadine).

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For the Beets & Purée

  • 8 large red beets
  • 1 garlic head, cut horizontally
  • 4 thyme sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 TBS whole black peppercorns
  • 2 cups balsamic vinegar
  • Salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove beet greens and wash beets well. In a deep baking dish, place all ingredients in and a light sprinkle of salt. Bake until tender.

Peel beets while warm and cut each beet into 6 pieces. Save scraps for purée. Serving size per person is 5 beet pieces. Choose the nicest pieces for serving and reserve all other pieces for the purée. In a blender, purée all scraps and ugly pieces. You may have to add a few tablespoons of water. Season purée with salt, to taste. Set both purée and beet pieces aside.

For the Salad

  • 2 watercress bunches, picked
  • 1 frisée head, white and light green parts only

Pick and wash watercress and frisée. Set aside.

For the Suprêmes & Vinaigrette

  • 4 navel oranges, zested, suprêmed, juices reserved
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • EVOO
  • Salt, to taste
  • White pepper, to taste

4 navel orange suprêmes was divided exactly for 8 people’s salads. You may want to increase the number of oranges if you’re unfamiliar with suprêming.

Zest two of the oranges with a peeler. Julienne the zest and set aside.

Suprême each orange and reserve juices for vinaigrette. Set suprêmes aside. After suprêming each orange, squeeze the core to get more juice. Strain juice before making vinaigrette.

Ratio: 1 part vinegar :: 2 parts juice :: 3 parts EVOO. Using an immersion blender, blend vinegar, juice, EVOO, and lemon juice. Season with salt and white pepper, to taste. Before dressing, blend again.

For the Candied Zest

  • Orange zest from above
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • Water

Boil the zest three times, in cold water each time, for 5 minutes each time, changing the water each time.

In a shallow pot, add lemon juice, sugar, and enough water to cover orange zest and on low heat, cook until water has evaporated and mixture is bubbly. Be very careful not to burn because when you remove from the heat, the pot will continue to cook and sugar caramelizes fast.

When zest is still warm, remove each julienned zest from pot and place on parchment paper.

TO ASSEMBLE

Using a large spoon, spoon a good amount of beet purée on a chilled plate and slide the spoon through it so it creates a streak. Place 5 beet pieces on top of the streak, facing the same direction. Place 5 orange suprêmes beside each beet piece. In a large mixing bowl, dress watercress and frisée. Carefully place greens on top of beets. Place 5 candied zest pieces on top of salad, then serve.

Mini Shrimp Dumplings with Shiitake & Water Chestnut

Screw my liquid diet. Ever since I bought my new dinnerware, I’ve been dying to use it. And it’s probably a good thing that I’m experimenting on canapés/amuse-bouche because we’ll be doing it for L’Ecole in the next and final level.

[Everything organic, except water chestnuts, shrimp from Thailand]

  • ¼ cup shiitake mushrooms, finely diced
  • ¼ cup water chestnuts, finely diced (around 6-7)
  • ½ cup flowering chives, finely chopped
  • ½ lb shrimp, finely diced
  • 1 packet gyoza wrappers
  • Chives, finely diced for garnish
  • 1 tsp simple syrup (equal amounts of water and sugar, melted)
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • Salt & freshly ground white pepper
  • Oil for deep-frying

Combine shiitake, water chestnuts, chives, and shrimp in a mixing bowl. Season with salt and gently with white pepper, mix well. If you’re unsure about the taste, make a test dumpling.

Using a 2-inch ring mold, cut mini-wrappers from the store-bought wrappers. Save the scraps, thinly slice them and deep-fry them until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and using your fingers, crumble them into smaller pieces.

Make as many dumplings as you can from the filling.

TO ASSEMBLE

Boil a pot of cold water, when it comes to a rolling boil, put in the dumplings – do not overcrowd the pot. When the dumplings float to the surface and the water is boiling again, cook for 6-8 minutes.

In another pot, make simple syrup if you don’t have any. Melt the simple syrup into the soy sauce and turn off heat.

Plating: in Chinese spoons, place dumplings flat/upright and add 1 tsp of sweet soy sauce into the spoons. Sprinkle with fried wrapper pieces and chives.

Seafood Terrine

I’m glad my team is finally done with our charcuterie buffet. I was responsible for making the seafood sausage, seafood terrine, and pork buns. Originally, I was just going to make the seafood sausage but since there was so much of the mousseline/forcemeat, my chef instructor suggested that I make some terrines in addition to the sausages.

Don’t worry, I already cut down the recipe size. Makes 4-5 terrine molds.

[wild arctic char, flounder, scallops]

For the Garnish

  • ¼ lb shrimp
  • ¼ lb fresh scallops
  • ¼ lb arctic char fillets, skinless
  • 1 cup peeled pistachio nuts
  • 2 TBS chives, finely sliced
  • 2 TBS parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 TBS tarragon, finely chopped
  • 1 TBS chervil, finely chopped
  • 1 TBS basil, finely chiffonade
  • Salt, as needed
  • White pepper, as needed

Shell and devein shrimp. Then chop coarsely. Chop scallops and arctic char fillets. Put all seafood in a bowl and place in fridge.

Make sure than all the herbs are finely cut and chopped. Leave pistachios whole.

For the Mousseline

  • 2 lbs flounder/fluke fillets, skinless
  • ½ lb fresh scallops
  • ½ tsp ground white pepper
  • Up to 2 cups heavy cream, ice cold
  • 2 egg whites
  • ½ tsp sea salt

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Chop/cube the scallops and the fish fillets then place in the freezer for 30-40 minutes.

Place in food processor with white pepper, salt, and egg whites. Pulse and continue to process by adding ice cold heavy cream slowly until desired consistency. Remove from food processor and place in large mixing bowl.

Fold in all the garnish, first seafood, then pistachios and herbs. Mix well.

Make test dumplings and adjust seasoning.

Line terrines or earthenware containers well with plastic wrap, making sure to allow for overhang, then pack terrines with mousseline. Close terrines with the overhanging plastic wrap and place in a double boiler in simmering water for 10 minutes. Then place in the oven, with the double boiler, for 15-20 minutes. The internal temperature of the terrines should be 145°F.

Remove from oven and take out of double boiler. Place on top of terrine another same-size terrine mold or a piece of wood or heavy cardboard cut to fit inside the mold that has been wrapped in plastic wrap. Put a 1-pound weight in the empty terrine mold or on top of the wood/cardboard. Chill terrine with weights for 24 hours to allow flavors to develop.

Slice them at least 1 cm thick.

This is the marble slab that I presented the seafood terrines on during the charcuterie buffet.

*Adapted from Fritz H. Sonnenschmidt’s “Charcuterie: Sausages, Pates and Accompaniments” and Chef Nicolay Yerofeyev from the French Culinary Institute.

Gravlax

I never had heard of gravlax before the food preservation class on October 8, 2011 . The description in the book just sounded so delicious and since I love eating all kinds of seafood, I knew I would love gravlax. When Chef Janet sliced the gravlax for us two weeks later, I took a lot home but I finished more than half of it on the train!

[100% organic, farmed salmon from Norway]

  • 1 lb salmon fillet, skin on
  • 4 TBS salt
  • 4 TBS sugar
  • 1 tsp white pepper powder
  • 1 cup fresh dill, chopped
  • Splash of white wine
  • 1 lime, zested

Combine the salt, sugar, and white pepper powder and mix thoroughly until combined. Pour a layer of the mixture into the bottom of a pan.

Place the salmon on top of the salt mixture, skin side down. Gently rub the salt mixture, dill, lime zest, and white wine into the salmon. Cover the salmon with the remaining salt mixture so that no salmon flesh is visible. Wrap the pan with cling wrap and refrigerate for 2 days.

About 6 hours into the curing period, unwrap the pan and flip the salmon. The salt and sugar would have melted and been partially absorbed by the fish. After the flipping, wrap the salmon and all curing ingredients tightly with cling wrap. Place another tray on top of wrapped salmon and weight it down with a 2-kg weight. I used a full-pot of water.

Unwrap, flip, wrap every 12 hours for 48 hours. When ready, brush off the cure with damp paper towel and serve.

Click here to see it in action: Herbed Blinis with Gravlax, Masago & Lemon-Caper Crème Fraîche

*This is an adaptation from the French Culinary Institute and About.com

Sichuan Water Boiled Fish

水煮鱼

I did a lot of research on this dish because it is my *FAVORITE* from Sichuan. The ending photo results from the online recipes that I could find… were… well… really shitty. They basically sucked… and they didn’t look right at all.

In the restaurant, this dish is served in a type of basin and there are piles and piles of red chillies in them and a thick layer of oil. I was having a dilemma with this; should I make this as authentic as I can by using a thick layer of oil or should I adapt to how I like it? I chose the latter. It’s less wasteful on the ingredients.

I asked around my Chinese/Sichuanese friends and former colleagues, and the Sichuan restaurants in Shenzhen, and I finally think I’ve got a pretty good recipe. The fish used is typically a river fish but I think you can use any white-flesh fish. At Whole Foods yesterday, there was a sale on hake fillets so I used that. Hake is similar to cod and haddock. Flounder works great too.

*I used potato starch because it’s my new favorite ingredient but corn starch will suffice.

[100% organic, wild fish]

For the Marinade

  • 1 TBS ground ginger
  • 2 tsp white pepper powder
  • 1 TBS potato starch/corn starch
  • 2 egg whites

Whisk together the marinading ingredients and then marinate fish slices for 15 minutes.

For the Fish

  • 1 lb flounder fillets, sliced thinly and roughly to 2-inch x 2-inch squares
  • ½ cup Sichuan whole peppercorns
  • 2 TBS ground Sichuan peppercorns
  • ½ cup Sichuan whole dried chili peppers, halved
  • 2 TBS dried chili flakes
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 stalks of celery, julienned
  • 1 bundle fensi (glass/cellophane/Chinese vermicelli/bean thread noodles)
  • 2 TBS Sichuan garlic bean sauce
  • 2 TBS canola oil
  • 2 TBS chili oil
  • Salt
  • Cilantro leaves, garnish

Boil fensi noodles in salted water and strain then place in cold water, to stop from expanding.

In a wok or pan, roast (without oil) the whole dried chilies and whole Sichuan peppercorns over high heat for 30 seconds and set aside in a bowl. Smash some of the peppercorns to release flavor for later.

Back in the wok/pan, on medium-low heat, add the 2 TBS of chili and canola oil. Sauté the garlic until aromatic and then add in the roasted chilies and peppercorns, along with the ground peppercorns and chili flakes. Turn heat to medium-high and add the garlic bean sauce. Pour in enough cold water to the wok/pan in order to poach the fish. Season generously with salt. When mixture comes up to a boil, bring it down to a simmer and carefully place marinated fish into poaching liquid. Keeping the simmers at a low steady pace, cook fish for 6-8 minutes.

In a large serving bowl, arrange the fensi noodles at the bottom, then place celery on top. Pour the fish and mixture over everything, garnish it with cilantro leaves and serve with rice!