Happy Chinese New Year: How to enjoy delicious dim sum
Ring in the Chinese Year of the Goat with some delicious ‘dim sum’ - bite-sized treats served traditionally for breakfast or lunch
Asparagus is one of those vegetables that my mother would serve when it was our birthday as she said they were very expensive. Each person had their ration of two stalks of asparagus and that was our luxury for the year. I ate my two stalks very slowly, so slowly my grandmother questioned whether I didn't like it and whether I wanted to give her my portion, to which I shook my head and ate a bit quicker.
Asparagus is not only delicious when cooked al dente so it still has a bite but is filled with vitamin E, which helps keep the heart and the immune system strong to ward off illness. The asparagus in this dim sum lifts the softer filling of the chickpea and sweet potato. Don't overcook the asparagus as its best eaten with a crunch to it.
CRISPY SUPERFOOD SIU MAI
You will need
180g sweet potatoes
1 spring onion, diced
2-3 x 2cm slices of ginger
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch of white pepper
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine
1 tablespoon water
2 teaspoons potato starch
12 wonton wrappers
Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
Sweet chilli sauce to serve
Boil the asparagus for five minutes then set aside. Then, boil sweet potatoes and chickpeas in a medium saucepan over a high heat for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain.
Transfer the asparagus, sweet potato and chickpeas to a blender and mix together until they form a thick paste. Add the diced spring onion and mix together. Add the ginger, salt, pepper, sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil, Shaoxing wine, water and potato starch. Mix in a clockwise direction for one minute until thoroughly combined. Transfer the filling to the fridge to chill for five minutes.
Trim the corners of the wonton wrappers so that the wrappers are round in shape.
Cup the fingers on your left hand and place a wrapper on the fingers. Put one tablespoon of filling in the centre of the wrapper. Then, using your fingers, squeeze the filling into the pastry so it becomes a little square. Place the dumpling in between your thumb and index finger and, using a spoon or knife, flatten the filling that protrudes up when shaping the main body of the dumpling. This will shape the dumpling to stand up right.
Decorate the dumpling with a pea in the centre.
To cook the dumplings, heat a wok with the oil over high heat. Carefully drop the dumplings in the hot oil and cook for 5-7 minutes. Serve with the sweet chilli sauce.
DUCK FILO BASKETS
This dim sum will really impress your guests and the advantage is it can be assembled in advance to give you a chance to enjoy the party rather than slaving over the stove. The crunchy texture of the filo basket is a throwback to the idea of crispy duck, but in a bite-sized, dim sum format.
You will need
4 spring roll pastry wrappers
200g roast duck meat, shredded
¼ cucumber, peeled and cut into 1mm dice
50g edamame beans
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce mixed with 1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon lime juice
Toasted sesame seeds, to garnish
2 x 12-bun muffin tins
Preheat the oven to 190C/gas mark 5. First, prepare the pastry baskets. Cut the pastry into 24 rounds using a 4cm pastry cutter and use to line the holes of two 12-bun muffin tins. Bake in the oven for five minutes until golden and crisp. Remove from the oven and
set aside to cool in the tins.
To make the filling, combine the shredded duck, diced cucumber, edamame beans, hoisin sauce and lime juice in a bowl and mix well together.
Divide the mixture between the cooked pastry shells and garnish with toasted sesame seeds.
LISA'S TIP: To toast the sesame seeds, cook them in a dry pan over a medium heat for no more than two minutes. Any longer and they can easily burn.
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PAN-FRIED PRAWN CAKES
My family returned to Hong Kong only once during my childhood to attend a family wedding. The sun in Hong Kong was scorching my plaits that day, but it didn't deter me from playing with the other children. I chased after a little boy about the same age as me, laughing and calling out to him in Cantonese to slow down. We ran all the way down to the beach at Stanley Market, where the daipaidong vendors were selling these amazing pan-fried shrimp cakes. The boy only had enough money for one portion, but he was kind enough to share his with me. In return I gave him a peck on the cheek. He blushed from ear to ear, redder than the sweet chilli sauce that accompanied those tasty treats!
YOU WILL NEED
80g green beans
200g raw, peeled king prawns, deveined
1 shallot, finely diced
1 garlic clove, finely diced
2cm piece of fresh root ginger, finely diced
½ spring onion, finely sliced
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon caster sugar
Pinch of white pepper
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon potato starch
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus extra for greasing
Sweet chilli sauce
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Wash the green beans, pat dry on kitchen paper and cut into small pieces.
Rinse the king prawns under cold running water and pat dry on kitchen paper. Slice each king prawn into four pieces, and then flatten each piece with a large knife or hammer until it is 5mm thick. Transfer the prawns to a bowl.
Add the shallot, garlic, ginger, spring onion and green beans. Season with the salt, sugar, pepper, sesame oil and potato starch and mix the ingredients together in a clockwise direction for three minutes until they come together in a sticky paste.
Divide the mixture into six even portions. Grease the palms of your hands with a little oil and shape the mixture into balls. Arrange on a plate. Heat a wok over a high heat with two tablespoons vegetable oil. Drop the prawn balls into the hot fat and press them down with a flat spatula to form a patty shape. Cook for three minutes on each side until golden brown. Serve with sweet chilli sauce.
LISA 'S TIP: To ensure the prawn patties are fully cooked, place a skewer in the centre and if it comes out clean then they are ready.
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