What is the appeal of eating small plates?..little intense tastes that tickle our taste buds, wet our appetites and leave us wanting more? The French call them hors d’oeuvres, the Spanish call them tapas and the chinese call them dim sum. Eaten with tea, the Cantonese tradition stems back to times when road weary travelers would stop along their journeys to take a little refreshment at various stops, each one having its one speciality. Dim sum today is simply the dining tradition of eating small plates choosing what you like as it is prepared.
My husband’s and my most favorite place to eat dim sum is in San Francisco, California at the Ton Kiang restaurant on Geary Street. Always a line waiting to get in, it is not only the taste sensations that draw you in but the community of dining in true Cantonese style. With a steady stream of servers stopping by your table to offer you selections from the constant flow of dishes from the kitchen, it is a feeling akin to being a kid in the candy store – have as many as you like each one better then the next!
Here are a few of the dishes that caught our eye and ended in our stomachs on our recent trip there:
Steamed pork buns – soft, fluffy dough with cherry-sweetened pork, caramelized onions and peppers inside, top browned with a sweetened glaze…Steamed shrimp, vegetables, garlic and ginger dumplings in a noodle wrapping…delectably soft and slightly chewy…
Shrimp puree deep fried balls with crunchy slivers of cellophane rice noodles…wonderful shrimp flavor with a tickling sensation…
NOTE: steamed dim sum is not hard to do at home. Purchase won ton wrappers or spring roll rice paper wrappers [these need to be soaked first] then wrap any goodie inside and steam until cooked through usually no longer than 5 minutes. Shrimp, veggies, tofu, stone fruit…endless combinations.
For an interesting twist on mochi balls, my daughter turned me on to Traders Joe’s frozen mochi balls filled with ice cream! A cool textural sensation!