Sunday, August 12, 2012

Dim Sum - Adventures into Chinese Delectables

My son William has decided to go back to Pennsylvania for a week to revisit with friends and his grandmother. Of course he cannot keep from bragging how he is going to be enjoying all the food stuffs I had to leave behind; and cannot get anywhere in the area we live now.  We've racked our brains trying to figure out how to package up some of the items, so he can bring them on the plane. Knishes, oh to be able to have them again; piping hot with spicy brown mustard.

There is one place I miss so very, very much and that is the Chinatown area of Philadelphia. We always went to one particular restaurant for Dim Sum, Chow Fun and an assortment of Chinese dishes. The owners knew us by name and would prepare dishes for us that they served to the residents of Chinatown; not from the menu given to tourists. I've tried finding their information online, but no luck, and it has been over 4 years since we were last there, so perhaps they are no longer in business.

The most fantastic place to visit in a Chinatown area is a bakery, filled with all manner of delectables, including Dim Sum. My very favorite place was "Hong Kong Bakery Shop" located at: 917 Race St, Philadelphia, PA 19107. We would always order up two dozen roast pork buns, plus a number of other items, such as custard buns, moon cakes and egg custard tarts.

So as an ode to these wonderful memories, I have found information on making roast pork buns; and one of these day I hope to find a copy of the book it comes from. Also to become brave enough to attempt making Dim Sum myself.

This recipe comes from: “The Dim Sum Book: Classic Recipes from the Chinese Teahouse” by Eileen Yin-Fei Lo.


2 – 2 1/2 pounds lean pork butt
1 1/2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 1/2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon blended whiskey
1 1/2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 small cake, wet preserved bean curd from a jar
1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder

Cut the pork into 1-inch thick strips. Using a small knife, pierce the meat repeatedly at 1/2-inch intervals to help tenderize it.

Combine all of the remaining ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to dissolve the bean curd and honey. Place sliced and tenderized pork into a large, resealable plastic bag and pour the mixture over the top. Seal the bag and massage the marinade into the meat, making sure to coat each piece well. Refrigerate the pork for at least 4 hours, or as long as overnight.

Preheat the oven to broil. Line a roasting pan with aluminum foil and place the pork, along with marinade, in a single layer along the bottom. Place the roasting pan on the center rack of the oven and roast for 30 to 50 minutes, turning and basting the meat every 5 minutes, until fully cooked. If the sauce begins to dry out, add water to the pan. To check for doneness, place an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of one of the pieces of pork. It should register 160°. Allow the meat to cool and refrigerate it until you are ready to use it.


1 cup onion, diced into 1/4-inch pieces
1 1/2 cup char siu pork , cut into 1/2 inch, thinly sliced pieces
2 tablespoons peanut oil
3 teaspoons white wine
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
3 teaspoons dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoons ketchup
2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
Pinch of white pepper
4 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
5 ounces chicken broth
1 teaspoon sesame oil

In a small bowl, whisk to combine the oyster sauce, dark soy, ketchup, sugar, white pepper, cornstarch and chicken stock. Set aside.

Heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat for 30-4o seconds. Add peanut oil and heat until shimmering and just beginning to smoke slightly. Add onions, turn the heat to low and cook until the onions are lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Add the sliced pork, raise the heat to high and stir-fry to combine with the onions. Add white wine to deglaze the pan and mix well.

Lower the heat again and add the reserved sauce mixture from the bowl. Stir until the entire mixture thickens and turns a dark shade of brown, about 5 minutes. Add sesame oil and mix well. Remove the pork mixture from the skillet and spread on a large plate to allow the mixture to quickly come to room temperature. Refrigerate uncovered for 4 hours.


1 package dry yeast
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup hot water (115°)
2 cups high-gluten bread flour
1/2 egg, beaten
5 tablespoons lard or vegetable shortening

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast and sugar in the water. Place the bowl in a warm place to allow the yeast to activate, about 30-60 minutes. A brownish foam will have formed on top. Add the flour, egg and lard/shortening and stir continuously with your hand until a dough mass begins to form.

Begin to gather the dough in the bowl, and when the mixture becomes cohesive, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface for kneading. Knead the dough for about 15 minutes, picking it up with a scraper and sprinkling the surface with more flour if it begins to stick.
When the dough is smooth and elastic, place it in a large mixing bowl and cover with a lightly dampened towel. Allow the dough to rise in a warm place until it has tripled in size, about 2-3 hours.


Cut 12 squares of parchment paper, 3 1/2 by 3 1/2 inches.

Remove the dough from the bowl and knead several times. Roll it out with your hands into a roll about 12 inches long. Using a knife or a scraper, divide the dough into 12 1-inch pieces. Work with one piece at a time, keeping the others under a damp kitchen towel.

Roll each piece of dough into a ball, then, with fingers, press on the center of the sphere to create a dome and a well. Place 2 teaspoons of filling into the well, hold the bun in one hand, and, with the other, turn the bun while gathering the edges and pinching it closed. Press firmly to seal. Place the completed bun, sealed-end-down on a square of parchment paper. Repeat for the other buns.

Place all of the completed buns on a cookie sheet at least 2 inches apart to allow for expansion. Put the buns in a warm place to allow to rise for another 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350°. Using a spray bottle, spray each bun lightly with warm water and then brush each with beaten egg.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, turning the pan around halfway through baking to promote even browning. When the buns are golden brown, remove them from the oven and serve immediately.

The buns can be frozen after baking. To reheat, defrost and bring to room temperature. Cover with foil and place in a 350° oven for 10 15 minutes or until hot.

Makes 12 buns

Mary Cokenour

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