The Six Rules of Eating Chinese Dim Sum – According to a Top Chef in Hong Kong

Alex Millson wrote . . . . . . .

A New Yorker going to Hong Kong for an authentic dim sum experience may walk away a little deflated: Largely gone are the traditional carts, loaded with delicately flavored bite-size dishes, that diners flag down as they pass by in many U.S. eateries. In the home of the cuisine, they’ve largely been relegated to history and replaced with à la carte menus.

What you’re guaranteed to see in both cities, however, are such traditional dishes as steamed buns stuffed with sticky-sweet pork, xiao long bao dumplings filled with scalding soup, and chewy chicken feet that will test the carnivorous mettle of the more timid meat-eaters. Sweet sits alongside savory, often in the same bite-size dish, washed down with plenty of jasmine tea.

The methods of presentation are changing, but the rules governing how you eat dim sum remain the same everywhere. We asked the world’s first Chinese cook to earn three Michelin Stars, Executive Chef Chan Yan Tak of Hong Kong’s Lung King Heen restaurant at the Four Seasons on what to do—and more importantly, what to avoid.

Nibble, don’t gobble

“It’s better to take small bites rather than eat a whole piece of dim sum in one gulp. The flavors are enjoyed more when consumed slowly. With xiao long bao [delicate pork dumplings filled with a piping-hot broth], pick them up just a bit below the very tip, where the dumpling skin folds together. It’s best to take small bites and let the dumpling cool a bit between bites. Foreigners will often eat them in one bite and burn their mouths that way. The soup can be really hot.”

Go easy on the soy sauce

“Most kitchens prepare their dim sum seasoned, so you shouldn’t need extra, but it depends on how you like your food. Some like it saltier or spicier. Otherwise, dim sum should be well-seasoned on their own. I prefer to go light. I guess foreigners prefer stronger flavors. What they consider to be well-seasoned probably would be too salty or rich for our tastes. And what we like they probably think is too bland. The same goes for sweets. Some of our customers prefer their desserts to have less sugar.”

The spoon can be used for more than broth

“It’s best to use your spoon to give better support—lay the bone on the spoon and maneuver with your chopsticks. Bite off the meatier parts first and eat your way around the bone. Afterward, you can dispose of the bone on your plate. Fine dining restaurants will help you change plates after each course. If you dine in a dai pai dong [a traditional Hong Kong food stall], there’s really no etiquette. You can use your hands to eat and place the bone directly on the tablecloth. Just enjoy the food.”

Keep your chopsticks to yourself

“Don’t serve others with your chopsticks. It’s just as simple as this—some people might not want to share your saliva. You can always ask for another set for passing food to others. And don’t play with your chopsticks—don’t tap your teeth or poke inside your mouth with them. It’s fine to ask for a fork. Even some of the younger kitchen hands we have here can’t use chopsticks properly. We sometimes half-joke that we’ll need to test our new hires’ chopsticks skills.”

Learn the secret codes

“When you want to say thank you, tap your index finger and your middle finger together on the table twice. That represents a bow. And if you run out of tea or hot water for your table, move the teapot lid aside and the waiter will come and give you a refill.”

Don’t over order. You can keep going back for more

“There’s no recommendation for how much you should order, just order as many dishes as it takes to satisfy you and keep ordering until you’re full. And don’t ask for a doggy bag. It makes a big difference when you steam dim sum for one minute more or one minute less. You should eat them hot. Their flavors will totally change if you warm them by microwave at home.”

Source: Bloomberg


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New Plant-based Vegan Egg

Heather Kelly wrote . . . . . .

After four years of testing, food startup Hampton Creek has finally released its vegan egg product, Just Scramble. Well, in one restaurant, anyway.

Flore, a brunch spot in San Francisco’s Castro district, started serving a dish that uses the plant-based product this week. It’s the only place publicly selling Just Scramble at the moment. Hampton Creek founder and CEO Josh Tetrick says it will be in more U.S. restaurants by the end of this year and in fast food chains starting in early 2018.

Just Scramble is a light-yellow liquid that congeals like a real egg when exposed to heat. It can also be used in baked goods and other dishes. Its primary ingredient is mung bean protein, though it also contains water, oil, salt, pepper, black onion, and acid.

Best known for its vegan mayo, Just Mayo, Hampton Creek also sells cookie dough and salad dressings in stores like Whole Foods, Kroger, and Walmart.

Hampton Creek held a small breakfast on Thursday so members of the press could taste the final version of Just Scramble. Chefs from Hampton Creek whipped up a dish with mushrooms and goat cheese, as well as a plain version.

When cooked, the texture is incredibly similar to a real scrambled egg, though a touch grainier. When mixed with other ingredients it’s probably close enough that anyone who didn’t know would assume they were eating a regular egg. On its own, there is a slight earthy aftertaste.

For restaurants, how it performs in the kitchen is as important as the taste. Just Scramble cooks as quickly as real eggs without any unusual odors. Each bottle of Just Scramble is the equivalent of about 7 eggs. The form factor is familiar to restaurants, where it’s common to use buckets of liquified eggs to make everything from omelets to cakes.

Tetrick said the company struggled with early prototypes and went through thousands of test recipes before it hit on the final formula. Its food scientists tried various beans and plants, including soy and pea protein, the key ingredient in other vegan eggs.

Some batches would evaporate, others wouldn’t coagulate at all. A few tests looked great but tasted terrible. Mung bean protein turned out to be the best candidate for taste and texture.

Mung beans are a popular ingredient in many Asian foods. Hampton Creek is currently getting its supply, which isn’t organic, from existing mung bean farms in China. But it touts the crop as an environmentally friendly alternative to poultry farming because it uses less water and results in lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Founded in 2011, the 130-person company is also working on making lab-grown meats from real animal proteins. Its goal, according to Tetrick, is to provide more environmental alternatives to meat that will appeal to regular people, not just vegans and vegetarians.

“At the end of the day we’ve found there’s a limited number of things consumers are thinking about, led by, ‘Shut up, does it taste good?'” said Tetrick. “Does it taste good, does it make me feel good and can I afford it?”

Hampton Creek did not disclose its price per 322-gram bottle, but says it will be comparable to premium cage-free organic eggs. There are plenty of other egg alternatives on the market, but it is still a niche category mostly relegated to health food stores.

U.S. consumers eat more than 76.5 billion eggs a year. That’s a huge opportunity for any company that can make the idea of faux-eggs appeal to mainstream consumers.

Source: CNN

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