From My Wok to Yours - Taking the Mystery Out of Everyday Dining and Meals!!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Dim Sum Desires

Over the weekend, against Kim’s recommendation, I watched the movie Dim Sum Funeral.  I knew that it was going to be about estranged siblings having to come together due to the death of their mother, but I fully believed that there would be more references to food, to lighten the mood, than heart-wrenching moments and bitter recriminations that were constantly exposed.  Having watched many other movies (and read other books) in the past that have done well to shed light on the Chinese culture (i.e. Joy Luck Club,) I thought that this movie would do the same.  Sure, I learned much about the traditional seven-day Chinese funeral, but the movie was overly melodramatic, with the main characters shedding light on the lives that they have lived since fleeing their mother’s controlling grasp. 

The movie caused the heartache that I struggle with, having just lost my mother, to resurface, as it was difficult, in my empathic way, to watch others struggle with the loss of their mother, no matter her character.  The movie came to a climax in a rather demented yet gutsy way, as it did its best to stay interesting.  (“How DARE you get me interested in this movie!!!” was the complaint that I was told midway through.)

Dim sum in Cantonese and Dien sing in Mandarin means: Pointing to your heart's desires. That being said, it can be agreed that the movie’s funeral ceremony and gathering fully adhered to the premise of your heart’s desires, for no one truly wishes to have questions left unanswered, or animosities unresolved.

Thankfully, we did have a pleasant dim sum experience this weekend, as we made a return trip to Golden Wok.  Weekends at Golden Wok are a fun experience, as the restaurant produces over 60 different types of dim sum and they roll the carts around the restaurant, hoping that someone will pick a dish off of their cart.  Absent, however, was the traditional sing-song chant that the attendants use in Chinatown, when describing their offerings.   We were welcomed by the dull roar of happy diners, and we were quickly seated by a large Chinese family that was eating away and picking off of those same carts.  (There is nothing more reassuring to me than to walk into a Chinese restaurant and see it filled with, you guessed it, Chinese people.)

When we first arrived, I was contemplating creating my own stir fry, as Golden Wok offers a build-it-yourself option to their standardized menu.  I had picked out (in my head) the veggies that I was going to build my bowl with and was well on my way to selecting the sauce, but the sights and smells of the dim sum rolling past me were more than enough to make me change my mind.

Kim ordered her standard chicken pot stickers and egg rolls, Eleyna ordered the Lemon Chicken, and Madi ordered a bowl of egg drop soup.  I “officially crossed over to the weird side” as Kim put it, when I ordered sticky rice with chicken and pork, rice-wrapped shrimp, and a shrimp and corn cake.

The beauty of the meal is that what I ordered was a mere sampling of what Golden Wok had to offer.

Their Dim Sum dishes could best be divided this way:

1. Salty Dim Sum (ham dim sum)This is the largest group including Shrimp Dumplings (har gao), Pork Dumplings (shu mai), Beef Rolls with Oyster Sauce (sing jok guan), Fried Taro with Shrimp (yu har), Turnip Cake (lo bak gow), Spring Rolls or Egg Rolls (chuen guan), Barbecued Beef Sticks (satay), Stuffed Green Peppers (yong la chu), and a dumping stuffed with pork, mushrooms, and water chestnuts (fun goh); also one can have Shrimp Toast.
2. Sweet Dim Sum (tiem dim)
This is a relatively small group and includes Bean Curd Jelly (hang yen do fo fa), Coconut Cream Squares (yea tsup go), Egg Custard Cup (dan ta), and Water Chestnut Squares (ma ti go).
3. Steamed Buns (tsen bao)These buns are stuffed with roast pork (cha shu bao), chicken (gai bao), Chinese sausage (la chong guan), lotus seed paste (lien yung bao), or they can be filled with red or black bean paste (do sa bao).
4. Special Dim Sum (dot dim)Steamed Sweet Rice--made with chicken and black mushrooms--in Lotus Leaf (o mai gai), Phoenix Feet (fung tso), Duck Tongues (op lea), and Beef Tripe (ngo tsop).
5. Panfried Noodles (chow mein)
Noodles with Shrimp--or chicken (har chow mein or gai chow mein), Noodles with Pork--or beef (ju yok chow mein or ngo yuk chow mein), and E fu Noodles with Crab Meat (hai wong e fu mein).
6. Sauteed Broad Noodles (chow ho fun)
Sauteed Beef with Broad Noodles--with no gravy (gon chow ho fun) and Sauteed Beef with Vegetables--with gravy (sup chow ho fun). Broad noodles can also be combined with pork, chicken, or shrimp, however, those made with beef are best known.
7. Sauteed Rice Noodles (cho mai fun)
Singapore Sauteed Rice Noodles are curry flavored (Singapore chow mei fun) while Amoy Sauteed Rice Noodles are not curry flavored (fu gian chow mai fun).
8. Noodles in Soup (tong mein)Shrimp with Noodles (har tong mein), Ham and Vegetables with Noodles (fo twei tong mein), Chicken, Pork, or Beef with Noodles (ju yok or ngo yok tong mein), and Pork with Preserved Vegetables and Rice Noodles (ju yok or ngo yok tong mein).
9. Fried Rice (chow fan)Yangzhou Fried Rice, Fried Rice with Shrimp, Roast Pork (cha shu), and Salted Fish Fried Rice with Chicken (ham yu gai lop chow fan).
10. Congee with Fried Puff (jok yu tieo)
Congee, also known as rice porridge, is served with preserved egg and an item called fried puff. There is no equivalent to fried puff in Western cuisine. The puff is a wheat stick, that on frying expands and blisters. It can be dunked in thin Congee as one dunks a donut in coffee.
11. Single servings entrees over white riceDiced Pork Ribs--made with fermented black beans and white rice, Squid with Preserved Mustard Greens, also served with white rice, as is Beef with Broccoli.

Should you wonder what goes well with dim sum, be advised that tea is the beverage of choice because of its delicate scent and flavor; it does not overwhelm the taste and delicious aroma of these snack/appetizer foods.

A few popular teas that go well with this type of meal are Jasmine (hiong pieni), Dragon Well (lung jing), Smoked Black Dragon, and/or poo nay from Yunnan. The latter can be served alone or mixed with dried chrysanthemum flowers that give the poo nay extra dimension in fragrance and aroma. This latter variety is regarded as a powerful tonic. Chinese people believe that all hot teas get the stomach juices flowing helping digestion of a hearty meal.

We finished up with dessert, a rarity for us in any restaurant, but a pleasant one for us.  The girls had fruit custard, and I enjoyed tapioca as my dessert.  Now, understand that by tapioca, I did not say “tapioca pudding.” The dessert I got was the delicious equivalent of tapioca soup.  Tasty and fun, with the pearls of tapioca settling as orange balls on the bottom of a milky soup.

I will be reverting to the “Make Something Tasty On-the-fly” dinners this week, and I guess we will see how it goes.

I would not call the movie a good one, but it sure has some interesting subplots.  I just wish the food element could have been more pronounced.  Ah well…

Until then, Good Eating, Friends…

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