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May 01 2011

Foodbuzz 24×24 – Dim Sum 101

Published by under Foodie Events

What a delight it was to be chosen again to participate in this month’s Foodbuzz 24×24 event! We wanted to think of something we haven’t touched upon on our food blog and thought about providing a dim sum reference for those who are not familiar with this popular Chinese cuisine – or for those who eat it often but are not sure what they are eating!

Dim sum is a classic Cantonese breakfast or brunch where you can enjoy small portions of many different delicacies which usually comes pushed on carts or trays to your table. Dim sum is translated as “to touch the heart” and is inextricably linked to the Chinese tradition of “yum cha” or drinking tea. Traditional dim sum includes various types of steamed buns, dumplings, and rice noodle rolls that contains beef, chicken, pork, shrimp, or vegetables. This type of cuisine has become increasingly popular so we wanted to provide a guide to help those who want to know more about dim sum to understand the different types of dishes that are offered. We ventured to a couple restaurants to order the popular dim sum dishes to take home to photograph (and obviously to eat them) so that we can provide detailed descriptions of each item along with the Chinese name for your reference.

Please keep in mind that we were only able to capture the dim sum dishes that were offered at the restaurants we visited, so don’t limit yourself to our list. Feel free to experiment from the more common plates and choose something that may spark your interest. To find out where the good dim sum restaurants are, ask a local Chinese friend, a shopkeeper in Chinatown, or take a glance at the lines outside a dim sum restaurant during lunch hour on the weekends. This is usually a good indicator how popular the place is. Another good source is to do an online search on and type in dim sum in your area and read the reviews.

These are the dim sum carts that you will see being shuttled around the restaurants, stopping at the tables with eager eaters to showcase their dishes. If you see what you like, you point and they will place it on your table and stamp the card. When you want to request a certain dish, you can use the handy dandy guide below and ask them in your best Chinese accent.

Steamed Pork Dumplings (Siu Mai: pronounced Shu Mai) - This is probably one of the most popular dim sum dishes. These distinctive steamed dumplings are shaped like a basket with the filling sticking out over the top and filled with pork and topped with fish roe.

Steamed Shrimp Dumplings (Har Gau: pronounced Har Gow) - This is a delicate steamed dumpling with whole or chopped-up shrimp filling. The transparency of the dumpling wrapper comes from using wheat starch in the dough.

Rice Noodle Rolls (Cheung Fan) - These are wide, thin, and slippery rice noodles that are steamed and then rolled. They are often filled with different types of meats such as shrimp or beef, but this is our favorite which is filled with BBQ pork. It is also served with a drizzle of sweetened soy sauce.

Sticky Rice (Lo Mai Gai): This dish is packaged in fragrant lotus leaves which consists of sticky rice, sausage, and mushrooms. This is a picture of it unwrapped and halved so you can see the filling.

Phoenix Talons aka Chicken Feet (Fung Jao) - These are chicken feet that are deep-fried, boiled, and marinated in a black bean sauce and then steamed. This results in a texture that is light and fluffy, while moist and tender. Keep in mind you are eating them for their taste, not their meat - so long as you can overcome your disgust from eating chicken's feet!

Steamed BBQ Pork Buns (Char Siu Bao): These are Cantonese barbecue pork buns filled with barbecue flavored char siu pork. These fluffy buns are made from wheat flour and steamed so they are fresh and hot when served.

Baked BBQ Pork Bun (Char Siu Bao) - This is the other variation of the BBQ Pork Bun, except that it's baked instead of steamed and uses a different kind of dough. Also, its distinctive honey glaze gives it that nice shiny gleam.

Barbecued Pork Pastry (Char Siu So) - This BBQ Pork Pastry is made with flaky puff pastry dough. This has a sticky glaze and sprinkled with sesame seeds. Although the filling (Char Siu) is similar to the ones above, the puff pastry dough is what makes it different in flavor and texture.

Spring Roll (Chun Guen): This classic spring roll is usually filled with various types of vegetables like carrots, cabbage, and woodear mushrooms. It's rolled in a thin flour paper and deep fried. It can be served with a side of Worcestershire sauce. (It's pronounced Ki-Chup if you want to ask for this sauce).

Turnip Cake (Lo Bak Goh: pronounced Law Bok Gow): This cake is made from mashed daikon radish mixed with bits of dried shrimp and pork sausage that are steamed and then cut into slices and pan fried. The texture is dense, moist and slightly creamy.

Here is a picture of the Turnip cake being fried to a golden color on the cart. It's made fresh! It has certainly become one of my new favorites!

Chinese Broccoli (Gai Lan) - This is not your usual dim sum meat dish - duh! However, it's become more popular in restaurants because people like to enjoy all the protein-heavy dishes with a balance of some steamed vegetables. I personally like to order this because it's light and refreshing. The chinese broccoli is served with a drizzle of oyster sauce.

Tofu Bean Curd Roll (Sin Jyut Gyun) - The tofu skin is dried and hydrated during the cooking process. The filling consists of bamboo shoots and pork.

Pork Spare Ribs (Pai Gwat) - This is pork spare ribs that is steamed with fermented black beans. It's juicy, tender, and delicious - one of our favorites!

Chinese Donut Noodle Wrap (Zhaliang: pronounced Jaa Loeng) - This is a large rice noodle that is steamed and then wrapped around a Chinese donut stick. The donut itself is not sweet like your typical American donuts. It's very mild in flavor and has a nice crunch. It is served with two sauces - sweet Hoisin sauce and a peanut sauce.

Fried Taro Dumplings (Wo Gok) - This is a newer addition to the dim sum family and it's getting to be more prevalent in the restaurants we go to. The dumpling skin is made of fried taro that is flaky and crispy. The filling is made of seasoned ground pork and mushrooms.

Egg Custard Tart (Dan tat) - This is composed of a flaky puff pastry dough with an egg custard filling and baked to perfection.

Mango Pudding (Mong Guo Bo Din) - A nice refreshing dessert that is a sweet mango-flavored pudding and typically served over evaporated milk.

Sesame Seed Balls (Jin Dui) - Balls of glutinous rice flour that is filled with yellow mung bean paste, rolled in sesame seeds, and then deep fried.

This is how a typical dim sum restaurant will serve the dishes - in metal steamers or small plates. It's a great place to go with a group of people so that you can share the different options together. Enjoying your tea is also a big part of this meal. Tip: There is a polite way to ask for the teapot to be refilled with fresh hot water: by lifting the lid off and letting it hang loose by the rim. And remember, always pour tea for your fellow guests before serving yourself.

And of course... what do the stamps on these letter boxes mean??? In a typical dim sum restaurant with carts, you are given a card for your table and every time the servers give you a dish of your choice, they will stamp the card in the appropriate box to keep track of your bill. Each restaurant varies in how much they charge, but a good rule of thumb is that the "A" boxes range from $1.50 - $2.50, "B" boxes are $2.50 - $3.50, and "C' are $3.50 - $5.00. If you are worried about the bill, just ask your server what each letter box cost.

We hope that you were able to find this Dim Sum 101 tutorial to be helpful in your search for great dim sum! It is a wonderful brunch option when you are sick of the usual egg & bacon meals. Dim sum allows you to pick a lot of different dishes and sample them with your fellow company, and it’s light so you won’t leave feeling heavy and bloated. Just take your time, enjoy the never-ending tea, and have fun with the various options at the restaurant (don’t forget the dessert!). We would love to hear your own dim sum experience (likes, dislikes, favorite restaurants, etc) so please do share! We are in no way experts at this cuisine so we are eager to learn more. And who knows, maybe one day you’ll see us posting recipes of home-made dim sum!

18 responses so far

Apr 27 2011

April Giveaway – 6 Jar Spice Set from Spices Inc.

For this month’s giveaway, we are proud and excited to work with Spices Inc. to offer you a chance to win 6 different spices of your choice. As mentioned in our previous post, Pork Carnitas with Exotic Spices, we had used a few of the spices we received from Spices Inc. and are still using them in our everyday cooking, so now we want to share the products with you! Spices Inc. definitely has a huge selection of products, ranging from spices and seasonings to dried chilies and organic herbs. Most of which we would LOVE to have in our cupboard! 

Anyway, back to the giveaway! We are making this giveaway a bit more interactive this month. Here are the rules: 

  • Choose any 6 spices, herbs, seasonings, chiles or extracts from
  • Select a creative name for your spice set
  • Provide a couple of sentences on why you picked these particular spices (i.e. family favorites, reminds me of my grams, etc). This is equally important as the story is often one of the biggest deciding factors when two spices are “almost too close to call”
  • Contest ends Wednesday, May 4th, 2011 @ 11:59PM PST
  • US participants only, please!

The winner will by chosen by the most creative combination! Spices Inc. will build the winner’s spice set, photograph and add it to their website as a special “Limited Edition Spice Sets.” The winner will get credit in the copy block (i.e. this spice set was created by Cindy G. of Los Angeles). And then of course the custom spice set is sent to the winner! 

Be creative and good luck!


Disclaimer: In compliance with the FTC Guides, updated 10/5/09, this article has material connections.  The Food Addicts (TFA) received no fees for hosting this giveaway on behalf of Spices Inc.  Spices Inc. will provide 1 spice set;  1 spice set was also provided to TFA at no cost by Spice Inc. to facilitate the review process.  TFA does not endorse the company mentioned above.

13 responses so far

Apr 19 2011

Honey Walnut Shrimp

Published by under Cooking at Home

It is surprising that we would actually make Honey Walnut Shrimp, seeing that we both dislike mayonnaise! We’ve always been indifferent to this classic Chinese dish that is typically served as one of the 10-courses of a wedding banquet – in fact, it was served at our wedding! I’ve always been curious as to how it’s made, so with a bit of research and ingredients, we ventured to make our version at home that is lighter on the mayo. The crispy battered shrimp is tossed in a creamy honey sauce and topped with candied walnuts for a delectable course to be eaten with rice. It’s definitely a fun way to do something different with shrimp!

The first thing is to prepare the candied walnuts. In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup water with 2/3 cup sugar to a boil. Next, add 1 cup of walnuts and continue boiling for a few minutes until it has a nice glaze over the walnuts.

Place the walnuts on a parchment-lined cookie sheet and set aside. Don't put them on paper towels or they will stick! And feel free to pop a few in your mouth.

Next comes the shrimp! We used 1 lb. of 41/50 ct. large shrimp that's been peeled and deveined.

For the batter, whip 3 egg whites in a bowl until foamy. Add 1/2 cup cornstarch and season with salt and pepper. Toss the shrimp into the batter mixture to coat evenly, as shown. Make sure you add the shrimp to the batter immediately before frying. Don't let it sit in the batter!

Now the frying begins! Heat oil until 350-degrees and drop a few of the battered shrimp into the oil and fry on each side for a couple minutes until golden brown. You don't want to put all of the shrimp in at once because it will drop the temperature of the oil!

The shrimp should look plump and crispy after the deep-fry bath. Set it on paper towels to absorb excess oil.

For the creamy dressing, stir together 3 tbsp mayo, 2 tbsp honey, 1 tbsp lemon juice, and 1 tbsp condensed milk. Mix it together and taste it to see if you prefer it sweeter or creamier. Once you like the consistency and flavor, add the fried shrimp and toss to coat with the sauce.

Don't forget to sprinkle with the candied walnuts before serving! So for those of you like me who never knew how this dish was made, now you have a clear image of the 3-step process: walnuts, batter/deep fry shrimp, and coat with creamy sauce. We had a few friends over the night we made this and they graciously helped us eat the Honey Walnut Shrimp, like it was candy. I especially like the fact that we were able to control the amount of mayo in this dish so it didn't overwhelm our tastebuds. Overall, we thought it was a pretty good outcome for our first attempt!

To view or print-out this recipe, click here: Honey Walnut Shrimp

24 responses so far

Apr 07 2011

Pork Carnitas with Exotic Spices

Pork Carnitas is a classic Mexican pulled-pork dish that is getting more popular in Mexican restaurants, including one of our favorites, Chipotle. The traditional recipe for carnitas calls for the pork to be submerged in lard and deep fried (um, no thank you.) Instead, we braise the pork in some stock in the oven for several hours until it’s very tender, then broiled until the outside is crispy. We have made carnitas before on The Food Addicts… in May of last year, to be exact. It was the Carnitas Burrito with Tomatillo Salsa Verde, in which we offered a giveaway for products from La Tortilla Factory. This time around, we wanted to revisit the Carnitas recipe but turn it up a notch with some new exotic seasonings that we received from Spices, Inc.

Greg Patterson is the Founder and CEO of Spices, Inc. which is a company that specializes in spices, seasonings, rubs, and blends. He was nice enough to send us an 8-pack set of spices and powders that he thought we would enjoy, which included Saigon Cinnamon Powder, Cacao Nibs, El Paso Chili Powder, Manzanillo Mexican Seasoning, Ground Cumin,  Cocoa Powder, Smoked Sweet Paprika, and even Saffron! Some of these spices are so exotic that we have never even heard of them. It was such a great treat to receive these products from Greg and we were excited to use them in our cooking. So far, our favorite spice is the Smoked Sweet Paprika, which we find ourselves putting in almost everything we cook! True to its description on the bottle, it’s a heavenly Smoked Paprika that is rich in flavor, complexity, and depth. We enjoyed the full range of sweetness combined with lingering smoky notes. We decided to use the paprika in our Carnitas recipe because we wanted to give the pork a balance of smoky sweet and spicy. It definitely worked well for us! Stay tuned for an upcoming giveaway for a 6-jar spice set from Spices, Inc.! This is a great way to try new spices that you won’t normally see at the supermarket.

Here we used 3.5 lbs of pork shoulder cut into chunks (we removed as much fat from the pork as possible). We are trying to make this a healthier version!

Liberally salt the pork and cook the pieces of pork in a single layer until well-browned. They should have a nice dark color on each side.

Here are the seasonings we used to braise the pork: 1 tsp Ground Cumin, 1 tsp Smoked Sweet Paprika, and 1 1/2 tsp Manzanillo Mexican Seasoning (which is a hand-blend of Mexican oregano, black pepper, Chipotle powder, Ancho Chile powder, Pasilla Chile powder, cumin, garlic powder, garlic flakes, onion powder, onion flakes and coriander) . If you can't get the Manzanillo Mexican Seasoning, just replace this with chile powder and oregano.

Add enough pork stock to the pot so that the pork pieces are two-thirds submerged (around 2 cups). If you don't have pork stock on hand, you can just use water. Add in the above-mentioned seasonings, a couple bay leaves, 1 tsp fresh oregano, and 1 tbsp chopped garlic. Braise this pot of pork and spices in the oven at 350F degrees for about 2 1/2 hrs until most of the liquid has evaporated and the pork is falling apart.

Remove the pork pieces from the pot into a bowl and discard the liquid, because it's pretty fatty.

Traditionally, the pork pieces are deep fried so it gets that nice crispy texture. But since this is a healthy version, we took the pork and scattered it on a baking sheet and broiled on High in the oven until the pork is crispy and caramelized. Just keep an eye on it to determine how crispy and brown you want them. Since we were impatient, we didn't want to wait that long to eat it!

This is a great way to stretch your pork shoulder by making Pork Carnitas at home. These are great to eat as a taco with corn tortillas, tomatoes, shredded cabbage, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime. It can also be eaten with rice and beans - or just by itself. Either way you choose, this Carnitas recipe is delicious with the exotic spice blend and tastes just as fabulous as the unhealthy fried version!

To view or print-out this recipe, click here: Pork Carnitas with Exotic Spices

38 responses so far

Mar 30 2011

March Giveaway – Green Giant Gift Pack

There’s only 1 day left in March, but it’s better late than never to post this month’s giveaway, right? Green Giant is promoting their new line of frozen boxed vegetables in a variety of different flavors. The one we received is the Broccoli & Cheese Sauce to sample. With a very busy schedule, we don’t always have the time to make a fancy dinner, so many times we do rely on frozen vegetables to accompany our main course. I’m a huge advocate of always having some sort of vegetables with a lot of fiber with my meals, so these ready-to-heat vegetables are huge time savers and tastes great. Not to mention, you don’t have to cut and wash the vegetables either! Major score!

So if you are one of those people who love vegetables like me, then enter this month’s giveaway where you will get a coupon to redeem a Green Giant Broccoli & Cheese Sauce along with an insulated tote bag, serving spoon, bowl, and pedometer. Yes, a pedometer! That’s to get you motivated to get healthy and fit since summer is just around the corner. Everything can be yours if you are the lucky winner!

Here’s how to enter:

  • Leave a comment letting us know your favorite way to prepare and serve vegetables with your meal. Do you use frozen vegetables? Do you prefer to go to the Farmer’s Market to get the latest fresh ingredients? Or is it merely a piece of iceberg lettuce on your huge hamburger because you can’t stand vegetables?
  • Be sure you are an email subscriber of The Food Addicts so you can get updates on our posts as well as notifications for future monthly giveaways.
  • Contest ends Sunday, April 3rd at 11:59PM PST. Good luck!
Disclaimer: In compliance with the FTC Guides, updated 10/5/09, this article has material connections.  The Food Addicts (TFA) received no fees for hosting this giveaway on behalf of Green Giant through MyBlogSpark.   Green Giant will provide 1 prize pack to the winner free of charge;  1 prize pack was also provided to TFA at no cost by Green Giant to facilitate the review process.  TFA does not endorse the company mentioned above.

29 responses so far

Mar 25 2011

Chocolate Mousse-Filled Oranges

Published by under Desserts,Gardening

What better way to enjoy our fresh oranges that we grow than to use it to dress up a classic Chocolate Mousse. It is one of those desserts that we both genuinely enjoy because it’s light and airy, and a perfect ending to any meal. With just a few ingredients and a mixer, we whipped up (no pun intended) this wonderful Orange Chocolate Mousse that we filled in our own oranges that we halved. And for an equally delicious garnish, we topped it with whipped cream and orange zest. Now, how can anyone resist such a lovely and refreshing dessert? Okay – let’s put it this way – it was so addicting to eat that I may have licked the bowl clean.

We grow our oranges in a pot in our garden just to control it from growing out of control.

(Sorry for the god-awful picture. I must've drank too much Grand Marnier when I took this.) In a double boiler, combine 5 oz of bittersweet chocolate (we used chocolate chips), along with 2 tbsp coffee and 2 tbsp Grand Marnier. The Grand Marnier is the extra ingredient that gives it that subtle orange flavor. Stir until melted and smooth. Remove from heat.

When chocolate has cooled, whisk in 4 large egg yolks, one at a time. Keep in mind that this is a classic French mousse recipe so it requires raw eggs which will not be cooked.

In a mixer, whip 1 cup chilled heavy cream to soft peaks. In another bowl, beat the 4 egg whites until foamy. Add 1 tbsp sugar and beat to soft peaks.

Fold half of whites into chocolate until incorporated, then fold in rest of whites. Finally, fold in whipped cream.

The chocolate mousse should look like this. Keep in the fridge to chill at least 4 hours before serving.

To serve, cut 4 oranges in half and scoop out the flesh without breaking the skin. Fill the shells with the chocolate mousse, top with whipped cream, and sprinkle with orange zest. This is a creative and fun way to serve the Chocolate Mousse to your guests to add that extra "wow" factor!

To view or print-out this recipe, click here: Chocolate Mousse-Filled Oranges

23 responses so far

Mar 13 2011

French Onion Soup

Published by under Cooking at Home

The reason we decided to make French Onion Soup one day was simple: we bought too many red onions and we needed to figure out a way to use it up the best way possible! French Onion Soup is such a classic soup that takes a lot of time and patience to make, but the results are worth the effort. With a combination of rich beef broth, caramelized onions, toasted French bread and melted Gruyère cheese, it is a wonderful contrast of flavors – from sweet to salty. We were also excited to use our new (and cute!) porcelain soup crocks to serve the French Onion soup in, which gives it that distinct look for this delicious and comforting soup. We used a recipe from the 2001 edition of The Culinary Institute of America: Book of Soups. It’s a beautifully illustrated cookbook that has been in our collection for years. Follow along as we share the step-by-step process on how to make this classic French Onion Soup.

The recipe calls for 4 medium onions, thinly sliced. We actually doubled the recipe, but for simplicity sake, we will give you instructions based on the cookbook's recipe. To make things easier on us, we sliced the onions using a mandolin so it comes out fairly evenly. And obviously it's a lot faster.

In a soup pot (not a pan like we used here), add some oil and the onions over medium-low heat. The trick here is to not stir the onions at all until they begin to brown on the bottom.

When the onions begin to brown on the bottom, raise the heat to medium, stir, and continue to cook until the onions are deeply caramelized to a dark golden brown. The total cooking time should be about 30-45 minutes. If the onions begin to scorch, add a few tbsp of water and continue cooking. To the onions, add 2 minced garlic cloves and 1/2 cup brandy and simmer until the liquid has nearly evaporated, about 2-3 minutes.

Next, add 1 1/2 quarts of beef broth... and the herb sachet shown below.

We snipped about 3-4 parsley stems from our herb garden for the sachet.

To this cheesecloth, add some thyme, tarragon, and 1 bay leaf. This gets wrapped up and tied with a string to put inside the soup pot while it's cooking to release the flavors of the herbs without having them get inside the pot.

Bring to a simmer and cook partially covered for 45 minutes to 1 hour, skimming the surface as necessary and discarding any fat. Once the soup is done, remove the sachet and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Meanwhile, grate about 1 cup of Gruyère cheese. Gruyère is sweet but slightly salty, with a flavor that varies widely with age. It is often described as creamy and nutty when young, becoming with age more assertive, earthy, and complex.

When the soup is ready to serve, fill the soup crock and add a couple slices of toasted French bread.

Sprinkle with a generous amount of Gruyère cheese and broil on high for about 5 minutes until the cheese is melted.

The secret to making a fine French Onion Soup is to give it lots of time to develop flavor. The rich flavor of the base is not due just to the broth, but to the caramelized onions. If you find yourself with a lot of onions and want to make something where onions are the key ingredient, then this is surely a dish to consider. We hope that this post will help show you that it's not a daunting task to make your own French Onion Soup at home.

To view or print-out this recipe, click here: French Onion Soup

7 responses so far

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