The Olympics are taking place in Beijing, so I plan on serving a dim sum-inspired Chinese menu. Dim sum are small dishes usually consumed at brunch. Since my viewing is in the evening, the recipes aren't necessarily über-traditional; they are, however, divinely delicious. Shrimp shau mai are bite-sized pillows packed with delicate flavors. Chinese spareribs with teriyaki glaze will satiate the hunger of carnivore guests, while sweet and spicy fried cauliflower will tantalize the vegetarian tastebuds. When served in individual take out containers, spicy sesame noodles make an excellent hors d'oeuvre.
If you have a large crowd coming over, supplement this homemade menu with store bought Spring or Summer rolls and pork buns. To check out the recipes,
1/3 cup chopped canned water chestnuts
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1/2 pound shelled and deveined shrimp, chopped
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 tablespoon sherry wine
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 to 2 teaspoons sugar, optional
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 package wonton wrappers
Shau Mai Dipping Sauce, recipe below
- In a large bowl, mix together water chestnuts, scallions, shrimp, sesame oil, peanut oil, sherry wine, cornstarch, sugar, if desired, salt, and pepper.
- Using a knife, trim the edges of each wonton wrapper to form a round. Place 1 tablespoon filling in the center of each wrapper; moisten edges with water. Cup your hand around wrapper, gathering folds up and around the filling. Press gathered folds lightly around filling to adhere.
- Fill a large skillet or wok with 2 cups water; bring to a boil.
- Set a bamboo steamer into skillet and line with a damp piece of cheesecloth or a piece of parchment paper. Place shau mai in steamer about 1-inch apart. Cover and cook until filling is cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes. Serve immediately with dipping sauce.
1/3 cup unseasoned rice-wine vinegar
2 tablespoons freshly grated and peeled ginger
Mix together vinegar and ginger in a small bowl.
Makes enough for 20 shau mai.
- Seafood, Appetizers
Spiced spare ribs:
2 (4-pound) racks pork spareribs, trimmed of excess fat
1/2 cup Chinese five-spice powder
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 cup grapefruit juice
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 fresh red chili, minced
2 garlic cloves, smashed
2-inch piece fresh ginger, whacked open with the flat side of a knife
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, for garnish
Chopped fresh cilantro and green onion, for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
- Rub the ribs all over with the five-spice powder; then season generously with salt and pepper. Put the ribs in a single layer in a roasting pan and slow-roast until they are almost tender, about 2 hours.
- Meanwhile make the glaze. In a large bowl combine the soy sauce, grapefruit juice, hoisin sauce, ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar, chili, garlic and ginger in a saucepan. Bring the sauce to a simmer over medium heat. Cook until the sauce reduces and thickens then remove from the heat. Strain the sauce and reserve.
- When the ribs are about 30 minutes away from being done, baste them with the teriyaki sauce. Cook until the meat pulls easily from the bone (about 1/2-inch of bone will show).
- Just before serving, preheat the broiler. Baste the ribs again with the teriyaki sauce and brown them under the broiler for 5 to 8 minutes. Keep a close eye on these guys - ribs go from perfectly crisp to perfectly burnt in seconds.
- Separate the ribs with a cleaver or sharp knife, pile them on a platter, and pour on the remaining sauce. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, chopped cilantro, and green onion before serving.
- Meats, Appetizers
12 cloves garlic
4 2" pieces peeled fresh ginger
(3 cut into thin coins, 1 julienned)
1 head cauliflower, cut into large florets
2⁄3 cup cornstarch
2⁄3 cup flour
1 tsp. red chile powder
Freshly ground white pepper
2 tsp. plus 3 tbsp. soy sauce
Peanut oil for frying
2 small onions, chopped
8–10 Thai chiles, thinly sliced
1⁄2 cup ketchup
1 1⁄2 tbsp. sesame oil
2 scallions, thinly sliced
- Purée garlic, ginger coins, and 1⁄3 cup water in blender; set aside. Boil cauliflower in a pot of salted water until tender, 6–7 minutes; drain.
- Whisk together cornstarch, flour, chile powder, 1⁄2 tsp. salt, and 1⁄4 tsp. pepper in a bowl. Stir in half the garlic paste, 2 tsp. soy sauce, and 3⁄4 cup water to make a batter.
- Pour oil into a large deep skillet to a depth of 1"; heat over medium-high heat. Working in batches, dip cauliflower in batter; fry until golden, 5–6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel–lined plate.
- Drain all but about 6 tbsp. of the oil. Add onions; cook for 3–4 minutes. Add chiles and remaining garlic paste; cook until paste is lightly browned, 3–4 minutes.
- Add ketchup, remaining soy sauce, sesame oil, and 1⁄3 cup water. Boil; lower heat to medium-low; simmer until thick, 1–2 minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste; toss cauliflower in sauce. Garnish with remaining ginger, scallions, and cilantro. Serve with white rice, if you like.
- Vegetables, Appetizers
1 tablespoon peanut oil
2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons Asian sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
11/2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon (or more) hot chili oil*
11/2 teaspoons salt
1 pound fresh Chinese egg noodles (about 1/16 inch in diameter) or fresh angel hair pasta
12 green onions (white and pale green parts only), thinly sliced
1/2 cup coarsely chopped roasted peanuts
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh Thai basil leaves
- Heat peanut oil in small skillet over medium heat. Add ginger and garlic; sauté 1 minute. Transfer to large bowl. Add next 6 ingredients; whisk to blend.
- Place noodles in sieve over sink. Separate noodles with fingers and shake to remove excess starch.
- Cook in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, stirring occasionally. Drain and rinse under cold water until cool. Drain thoroughly and transfer to bowl with sauce.
- Add sliced green onions and toss to coat noodles. Let stand at room temperature until noodles have absorbed dressing, tossing occasionally, about 1 hour.
- Stir in peanuts and Thai basil; toss again. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature.
*Available in the Asian foods section of many supermarkets and at Asian markets.
- Pasta/Noodle, Side Dishes