Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Dim Sum Primer, Pt 3

Continuing on with Part Three of the Dim Sum Primer. If you want to know where to get this stuff locally, check out the "Where to get Dim Sum in Lansing" post.

Fried Sweet Rice Dumpling. This thing has a lot of names, and the names often sound like other kinds of dumplings. At Little Panda, they're now calling it something like "Meat Filled Dumpling". But it's so much more: The wrapper is a thick, chewy sticky dough made of sweet rice (or sticky rice) flour -- which is used in a lot of desserts. However, in this dish, it's wrapped around some seasoned ground pork, and then deep-fried. I had a variation in L.A. filled with chicken and cilantro. In either case, something about the sweet and the crispy chewy fried crust makes the flavor of the meat inside POP. You really should have this with the hot sauce, though.

Hot Sauce. At Golden Wok, they put the sauce on the table when you arrive. At Little Panda, you have to ask for it. It's made up of chili flakes soaked in oil, and may be seasoned with ginger or garlic as well. The oil here is not as hot as the flakes, and it carries all the flavor, so if you don't want it too hot, you can just dab your dumplings in the oil, or you can drizzle it on the food.

TurnipCake. This is another item that goes well with the hot sauce. "Turnip" Cake is generally made with a large sweet Daikon radish, rather an an actual turnip. The batter is made with rice flour and water, mixed with various flavorful ingredients, usually including Chinese sausage, mushrooms and dried shrimp, along with the grated turnip. This is then steamed -- more like an English pudding than a cake -- and then sliced and fried. Little Panda tends to have more flavorful fillings. Golden Wok sometimes has a variant of this with a Taro Cake - which looks almost the same, but is slightly purple. Taro is sweeter and pastier.

Chive Dumpling. This translucent dumpling is shaped kind of like one of those round rubber coin purses that you squeeze to open up. (Flat, round, with a coiled top.) They are almost always filled with seafood and chives. At Golden Wok, they have shrimp. We've seen them with clams, and I've heard of them offered with greens or cilantro inside too. (Little Panda doesn't offer them.) The wrapper is a slightly tougher version of the clear Har Gow wrapper, and the dumpling is pan-fried after steaming.

Steamed Ribs. These are not BBQ ribs, but rather little chunks of bone, meat and gristle which have been steamed with garlic and black bean sauce. (Black beans are fermented, salted beans used as a seasoning -- and they are really great with pork or beef in particular.) The thing is, even though you have to suck the tiny bit of meat off small bones, these are really good, especially at Golden Wok.

BBQ Pork Pastry. These are almost too rich.... Okay, forget the "almost". They are too rich. Tender, flakey pastry wrapped around sweet hunks of Chinese BBQ pork. Melt in your mouth, heart-attack-on-a-plate. Yum. (Only available at Golden Wok.)

Shrimp Balls. Sorry I don't have a picture of these. They are basically just a meatball of pure shrimp, coated in crumbled rice noodles and deep fried. When I want shrimp, I prefer a little more texture and variety of flavor, so I don't often order these -- but they are great for somebody who just wants shrimp. Add a little sweet and sour sauce or hot sauce, and they are a treat.

Next time I'd like to get to some of plated dishes, congees and desserts. (I don't have as many pictures of those yet, though.) But before that, I have a few restaurant reviews to get to, and a Peking Duck banquet.

Where to find Dim Sum in Lansing
Dim Sum Primer, Part 1
Dim Sum Primer, Part 2
Dim Sum Primer, Part 3
Dim Sum Primer, Part 4

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