Monday, 9 July 2012

How (Not) To Make Your Own Dim Sum

By Nathalie Bonney.

1) First prepare the pastry by mixing together wheat starch, potato starch and hot water. Add vegetable oil last then knead into dough.

2) Flatten pastry with a Chinese cleaver to 2mm (3mm if you’re feeling lazy) then cut pastry into round circles (approximately 8cm diameter)

3) Prepare your filling next. Dice mushrooms, water chestnut, celery and carrot. Crush some garlic. Now prepare your seasoning (a looooong list of ingredients).

4) Meanwhile cook the funghi bunch gang in a wok for a few minutes on a high heat. Add in the seasoning ingredients and celery and carrot and turn the heat down to low. Add potato starch mixed together with water to the mix and stir quickly and thoroughly.

5) Decant to cool. Finally add in sliced mange tout, spring onions, coriander and green chilli plus vermicelli noodles.

6) And after all that work, if you’re lucky, you’re now ready to assemble your little parcels of goodness. If you fare less well in your kitchen attempts you’re probably now looking at a pile of flaccid glutinous ‘pastry’ that wobbles like the (pre-St Tropez) thigh of a heavyset Geordie gal dancing to Beyonce’s ‘Single Ladies’, plus some veggie mix no amount of pastry can hide.

There’s a reason Dim Sum isn’t often made in UK homes: it’s a lot of work.

Ping Pong restaurants, however, are now offering diners Dim Sum master classes. For £40 (minimum groups of ten) each person receives an arrival cocktail, Dim Sum demo, the chance to make and take home what is made, plus a set menu and another drink with dinner. The filling is pre cooked and pastry circles thinly rolled out so all diners have to do is assemble.

I have relatively fine fingers. Not quite pianist hands, but nonetheless suitably elegant and capable of creating exquisitely folded Dim Sum parcels. At my master class I sat next to someone who regularly makes Cornish pasties; I like to think his method and expertise rubs off on me.

Below are pictures of my efforts and the professionals’. Working out which is which is like asking someone to choose between Hockney and Emin. One set look beautiful, the other is a bold statement of ‘I can’t do Dim Sum folding very well.’

In spite of my spindly fingers, my Dim Sum were not great. Chef number three came over to show me what I was doing wrong. Thankfully my Morello Cherry Sambal Thai (with just the right amount of savoury kick) cocktail took the edge off my growing embarrassment and I was finally allowed to use an easier method, the under-arm serve of Dim Sum pastry tending. It was then that the class got a lot more fun. And the best part, at the end of the masterclass, was that we got to take our efforts home to eat. Cocktails, food to take home and no homework; that’s my kind of lesson.

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