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Dumplings are one of the dim sum favorites with a lot of surprises hidden right under its wraps.
If you have a weakness for good munching with these delectable bite-sized pieces, then you might be in for a treat. You’d be very happy to know that there are several types out there that you can relish in.
Dumplings are made in three different ways. It can be steamed, fried, deep fried, and boiled. This makes all the difference and it certainly makes your Chinese cuisine experience more interesting and satisfying. So let me take you through a run-down of the different dumpling choices you can try.
Ai wo wo
This is made of sticky rice that is rolled into a ball and stuffed with walnuts, sesame, melon seeds and hawthorne jelly. It is like a steamed version of corn bread that is flavoured with aromatic herbs. This is a widely popular snack that originated from Beijing with that distinct coating of powdered sugar and finished with a red dot on top. This makes for a good dessert to top off a hearty meal of good Chinese cooking.
Cantonese for shrimp dumpling, this deceptively simple dim sum dish is actually very appetizing and delicious too. What is actually interesting about it is that this tests any dim sum cook’s skill. This displays his ability to carefully roll out the dough and make it thin enough to make the shrimp visible through the outside, keep the shrimp plump and juicy, and create beautiful pleating. A good Har Gao is measured not only on how it soothes the taste buds, but the eyes as well, because it should be aesthetically pleasing.
Chiu Chow Fun Gor
It can be said that this is sort of a knock-off from the famous har gao. Instead of focusing only on shrimp, the contents are more interesting with this dumpling. It contains cilantro, chopped peanuts, shrimps, dried radish, garlic, chives, mushrooms and jicama. So when you bite into it, it gives you a beautiful burst of textures that starkly contrasts its soft and leathery exterior.
This steamed dumpling became so popular that different countries have made their own spin to it. This is the closest version to western meatballs as it is made up of juicy pork and shrimp balls. However, it is wrapped in a thin yellow wonton or dumpling wrappers. In the northern region of China their version is called shaomai which has a unique wrapping style that is similar to a makeshift sack. What makes siew mai a winner, or a must-have, in every dim sum meal is the fact that it is delicious, appetizing and filling. Some restaurants serve it with a special sauce to bring the meat flavour further, or to add more heat.
Gow Choy Gau
This dumpling encapsulates diced shrimp and chives. This is actually interesting because chives in Cantonese dim sum is not really common. This type of ingredient may be well accepted in northern China, but southerners find the pungency too strong for their taste. However, chives is what highlights the natural flavours of the shrimp. Today, versions like Crystal Chives Balls come out which not only contains shrimps and chives, but marinated ground pork too.
Guo Tie or Potstickers
This is a popular type of dumpling that was discovered by accident as a cook left the dumplings overcooked in the pot. This resulted in the skins to stick to the pan creating that blackened outer cover. Unable to salvage the situation and with the food already needed in the royal table, the cook had no choice but to serve his burnt creation. This turned out to be a success as the slightly burnt cover turned out to be a hit. Today, it takes special skill to create this! According to Northerners, a good potsticker have to be long, straight, and open on both ends.
This is a traditional fried dim sum dumpling that is served with its bottoms up. This is to show the perfectly browned base which is achieved from the shui jian, or water frying, method. So as the raw dumplings are fried in the pan with oil, a bowl of water is slowly poured into it. The hot water helps cook the filling inside the dumpling as it also creates a steam. It is eaten together with soy-vinegar or hot chili sauce.
Jiu Cai He Zi
Also known as Chive Turnovers, this is a Chinese comfort food that is loaded with its own distinct flavours. The outer cover is made of wheat dough, while the filling consists of chopped chives that is quickly stir fried with rice vermicelli and scrambled eggs.
This is a wrapped wonton that is placed in a pot of deep fryer then tossed into a tasty sweet and sour sauce. These are often served as an appetizer.
This is also known as taro dumpling, and is a best seller in a lot of dim sum places. It has a frizzy outer layer which is a result of fried mashed taro. It is not only tasty but also a treat with its texture. It has a crunchy outer layer which is creamy and soft inside.
These are traditional dumplings that originated from the Guangdong Province in China. These are made to be sweet, although there are also savoury versions, and are most commonly served during the Chinese New Year. It has a standard filling is composed of desiccated coconut crumbs that are mixed with sugar.
This is also known as Sichuan Wontons, and is known for having the appearance of folded hands. These are thin-skinned pork dumplings that are served with a tangy sauce called hong you (red oil).
What makes this dumpling interesting is the fact that the filling depends on the cook’s preference, so you can prepare yourself for a tasty surprise. In some restaurants popular filling choices include purple cabbage, bean sprouts, cucumber, shrimp, eggplant, rice vermicelli or crisped rice! These are served without any soup, but the wrappers are just as soft and flimsy which is a perfect texture. It is best paired with a dipping sauce that is a mixture of hot chicken broth, light soy sauce, vinegar and sesame oil.
These are traditionally eaten during the Chinese Lantern festival, and also as a dessert during Chinese weddings. It is a round sweet dumpling that is made out of glutinous rice or wheat flour.
This is closely similar to Yuan Xiao as it is also made with glutinous rice flour that is mixed with a small amount of water to form balls. It is then cooked and served in boiling water. These are also served during festivals because the Chinese believes that round food symbolizes family gathering and completeness. It is either made with our without fillings.
These wontons are made to contain a good volume of filling which is traditionally made of minced pork mixed with wild greens. They are often served for breakfast, but also just as good for dinner. It is served swimming in its equally tasty soup.
If you are interested in having your fill of Cantonese dumplings, Tak Po is a good place to satisfy those cravings. Call us today for reservations, and let us delight you with our savoury dishes!
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