But when we wanted adventure - which was often - we headed to Grand Harmony. This was the sort of Chinatown joint that hosted huge wedding banquets and enormous parties. It was loud and crowded and chaotic. Instead of just sitting down anywhere, you were assigned a number, which would be announced over an incredibly distorted and cracking intercom. Woe to you if you couldn't make out when your number was up! Instead of ordering dim sum off of a menu, you literally chased down indifferent ladies who were pushing steaming carts of goodies around the cavernous dining room. Fights could break out over shrimp dumplings. Dim sum at Grand Harmony was part meal, part sport.
Nothing where we live now can compare to dim sum in New York. If we want anything edible we have to drive about an hour to the Washington, DC suburbs. But the urge for dim sum is a craving that cannot be ignored, so last weekend it hit me: Why don't we just make it at home? Sure, at home there won't be any cart ladies to chase down or incomprehensible, ear-splitting announcements, and there's only Poppa Trix to fight with over the last morsel, but still - there would be dim sum!
I settled on 3 dishes: Vegetarian mock duck eggrolls, soy puffs stuffed with shrimp and scallions, and sesame seed and bonito crusted tofu, which I had been craving ever since I saw it on the beautiful blog Sense & Serendipity. I know it isn't really a dim sum type dish, but the flavors went perfectly with the other yummies and Divina's recipe is so tasty, and her photos so appealing, that I couldn't resist including it!
For the eggrolls, I used soy mock duck, but you could use any protein you like:
It looks pretty realistic, and it tastes great! It's firm and flavorful, with a slightly sweet/salty aftertaste.
When you have 3 sides folded, as in the photo on the bottom right, just roll it up like a burrito. Instead of deep frying, I brushed my rolls with olive oil and baked them in a 425 degree oven for 8 minutes on one side, and 5 on the other. They had all the crunchiness that I love in an eggroll, and none of the gloppy greasiness they can get from being deep fried. For sauces, I used a store-bought plum sauce and made a hot mustard sauce with equal parts Colman's mustard powder and white vinegar, with a dash of water.
For the sesame and bonito-crusted tofu, just follow the recipe at Sense & Serendipity: dredge the firm cubes of tofu in flour, egg, and a sesame seed/bonito mixture, and then fry 'em up. The crispy bite on the outside gives way to the pillowy softness of the tofu on the inside. Dip it in a mixture of soy sauce and rice wine vinegar. Perfection!
The Little Teochew, had once stuffed tofu puffs with something yummy, and I just so happened to have bought some on my shopping outing. So we stuffed our puffs with shrimp and scallion, steamed them, drizzled thick sweet soy sauce on them and presto! Dim sum - and my Sunday - was saved:
What the meal lacked in chaos and authenticity, it more than made up for in flavor and the fun of making it all with Poppa Trix.