Posts Tagged ‘mirin’
Posted Monday 23 April 2012on:
I have a fading memory of my uncle making dumplings (餃子). I don’t remember where or when the family gathering was and I don’t recall eating them but there is a faint image of his nimble fingers deftly pleating the wrapper, patiently making dozens for the dinner party. An exchange of emails with my father confirmed my uncle’s dumpling skills.
The lovely Kimberly was my companion at the Handmade Asian Dumplings class at The Pantry at Delancey. I had intended on snacking on a Jersey salad at Delancey prior to the cooking class but had forgotten the restaurant is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Instead we perched on the azure stools on the deck at The Pantry and chatted.
Located behind Delancey, The Pantry has a herbs and vegetables garden.
A custom made timber table is the centrepiece. The space is practical and welcoming, a celebration of countryside kitchen and communal dining.
Blushed tulips in a mason jar, bottles of olive oil in a vintage crate and local jams, preserves and jellies (Deluxe Foods) were some of the provisions for sale.
Dumplings mise en place prepared by the volunteers.
A glass of sparkling Rosé was a refreshing apéritif.
We munched on crispy wonton skins and spongy tofu cubes (豆腐泡) as appetisers.
In America via Malaysia and Australia, Kathleen Khoo was our teacher. She was an affable lady with an cheerful persona. On the menu were ‘water dumplings’ (水餃), Japanese gyoza, deep fried wonton (炸雲吞) and siu mai (燒賣).
Kathleen demonstrated how to make a basic dough and an egg dough. ‘Just like pasta’, a dumpling dough is formed with flour, water, egg and a pinch of salt. Once combined, the dough was kneaded quickly and firmly until silky and pliable. The dough was then rested before flattening into wrappers.
We paired up to make a basic dough and an egg dough.
Kathleen explained some of the Asian ingredients such as shredding only the green parts of the Napa cabbage as the whites have a high water content.
A tray of condiments included hoisin sauce (海鮮醬), mirin, sake, sweet chilli sauce, sesame oil (芝麻油) and Shaoxing wine (紹興酒). A splash is enough as the condiments are pungent.
As our dough rested, we emptied the various containers of the mise en place and stirred the components together for each of the fillings.
You can buy packets of dumpling wrappers from Asian grocery stores and supermarkets but it is easy, economical and healthier to make fresh ones.
Water dumpling wrappers can be made in a tortilla press. We learnt to do it by hand with a narrow rolling pin. The egg dough was rolled in a pasta machine.
Being organised is essential to successful dumplings. The surface should be lightly floured, spoons or chopsticks to portion out the fillings, corn starch for dusting the wrappers, a basin of water to seal the dumplings, and cotton tea towels to cover the wrappers and dumplings to prevent them from drying out. The rested dough was rolled into a sausage shape and cut into inch wide lumps.
A vibrant green, sprigs of coriander were roughly chopped as garnish.
Sauces in earthy shades were poured.
My first handmade dumpling!
The water dumplings were crescent parcels of minced pork, shredded Napa cabbage, aromatics and seasoning. They were boiled, tossed in a store bought spicy dumpling sauce and adorned with coriander. Thick and doughy, the slippery dumplings were meaty.
The crimped edges of the Japanese gyoza were fun to make. These sturdy morsels of minced pork and prawn chunks were seared in a non-stick pan and steamed in stock. Golden bottomed and translucent, the juicy and robust gyoza was my favourite.
Wontons were folded into nurse’s caps, deep fried and served with sweet chilli dipping sauce. I prefer wontons boiled in a broth ladled over noodles.
Siu mai, an open dumpling that is a staple dim sum (點心) at yum cha (飲茶), were a dexterous challenge. Traditionally made with twelve pleats, I maxed out at seven! The siu mai were plump bites laced with the distinct flavours of shiitake mushrooms.
Bunches of Chinese cabbage were quartered and steamed as a side. The first bamboo basket was too wilted but the second was just cooked, the stalks crunchy and the leaves tender.
Dumpling making is the perfect rainy weekend activity!
I had a question mark next to the Mobile Food Rodeo on my calendar as Mr S was returning from a three week work trip on the same day. I hesitated when the lovely Carol offered me a spare ticket but Mr S assured me he would be sleeping off jet lag so I happily accepted.
It was cool and cloudy as we joined the queue just before midday. VIP ticket holders were to have an extra hour before general admission but they were delayed by the fire marshal inspection and thus had a cascading effect on us. Hungry and windswept, we finally entered just before one o’clock.
A barren bitumen block enclosed by a barbwire fence, about a dozen food trucks ringed the perimeter and there were a couple of canopies with stacked hay bales for seating.
The bright graffiti on the Skillet Street Food van greeted us.
Next to the petite Whole Foods truck was Maximus Minimus, a pig with attitude in sunglasses!
Our first food truck was Curry Now. By the time we got our wristbands, I was shivering and in need of sustenance.
We shared a small chicken curry with rice and topped with cilantro. We ate this quickly and appreciated the spiciness.
Street Treats was adjacent and we peeked at the menu. Although tempted by ice cream cookie sandwiches we opted to purchase a salted brown butter crispy bar for later. We split this in the car and it was a sticky treat of sweet nuttiness.
When we were outside the line was moving steadily until we paused at Fusion on the Run. We noticed a menu leaning against a window and were intrigued by the coconut ginger chicken bánh mì.
As we were waiting for our bánh mì, a guy picked up his tacos order. On the left is ono, kalua pork with mango salsa and surfer sauce. The other two are KV fusion, marinated short rib with cilantro and onions.
A crusty baguette was filled with julienned and pickled carrots and daikon, lettuce, cilantro, sesame seeds and coconut ginger chicken. Each bite of the bánh mì was crunchy and juicy, the sour vegetables tempered the richness of the marinated chicken. This was the highlight of the Mobile Food Rodeo!
By now the crowds have at least quadrupled since we got in. Groups were huddled together, balancing plates and trays while standing. Those perched on hay bales were elbow to elbow.
We continued our rotation and walked by Lumpia World, Where Ya At and Kaosamai. After the bánh mì, we skipped burgers, sliders and sandwiches at Bistro Box, Buns on Wheels and Charlie’s Buns N’ Stuff.
The pig shaped chalkboard at The Box caught our attention! A recent addition to the fleet of local food trucks, they’re based in Kirkland.
We ordered a pork belly hum bao each and these were speedily assembled. Slow braised in soy and mirin, a generous slice of pork belly with a scattering of coleslaw was wedged between a steamed bun. The fresh and zingy slaw was a textural contrast to the yielding pork belly and the soft bun soaked up the tasty marinade.
A band entertained the crowds and later, Mayor McGinn appeared on the stage and a cupcake eating contest was held.
The sun had emerged and the atmosphere had livened up. There were some long queues so Carol lined up at Bigfood and I went searching for fries.
I was keen to try poutine, the Québec specialty. Surprised by only a handful of people lingering at Skillet, I joined the short queue just in time for the announcement that they were sold out.
Disappointed, I returned to the area where Bigfood was parked and caught a glimpse of the Happy Grillmore menu. Yukon gold fries with garlic and Parmesan? Yes please!
Unfortunately I was defeated by the wait time. The two chefs were cooking at a frantic pace but they were limited by space. The size of the event overwhelmed the charm of food trucks.
A jungle themed food truck, Bigfood also had a long queue but we were determined to try their grilled flatbreads.
On the left is sasquatch, spicy pulled pork shoulder with green mango chutney and coleslaw. On the right is yeti, braised beef with curried fruit and coleslaw. Colourful ingredients rested on fluffy flatbreads with perfect grill marks! These were tender and luscious, the grilled flatbread was a sturdy utensil for the shredded meat and fruity condiments.
And finally, a red velvet muffin. We scraped off the buttercream and halved the dense and buttery muffin.
Another new food truck, Snout & Co. has ‘soulful food from Cuba to South Carolina’.
As we exited, we were thankful that we arrived early and mostly avoided queuing by the dozens. Hopefully the organisation will improve for next year but it is a fun event to sample the diverse food trucks of Seattle and Portland.