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Some of the best food I have ever eaten has been in ethnic restaurants. Before moving back to Montgomery County, my husband and I lived in Sugar Land. Since we were no more than 20 minutes away from a large Asian community, we frequented the ethnic groceries and restaurants.
On Sunday mornings we would go and have Dim Sum. Directly translated, dim sum means "touch your heart"--an apt reference to these little dishes that both delight the palate and capture the imagination. Dim sum is more a style of eating than a particular food. The proper Dim Sum Restaurant is well lit with large aisles for the dim sum carts. As the carts come around you can choose your food. Most items come 3 pieces to the plate, so you can try many different foods without being wasteful if you don't care for it.
After our meal we would go shopping at one of the groceries, Hong Kong Market being our favorite. A bit daunting at first, it is a shopping experience like no other. With only a handful of the signs in English we could only guess at what some of the items were. We invested in a book that described the common food found in an Asian market, which helped considerably. Practically all of the seafood is alive, swimming in huge tanks. You pick your fish and they dress if for you right there. It doesn't get any fresher than this.
Being the avid cooks we are, making our favorite Asian dishes at home seemed the only thing to do. We were spending a considerable amount of money eating out so much! Here is a favorite dish of ours that is not too hard to do and you can find all of the ingredients at better groceries.
Chinese Pork Buns (Cha Siu Bao)
6 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1-3/4 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons shortening
1 pound finely chopped pork
1 tablespoon and 1-1/2 teaspoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon and 1-1/2 teaspoons hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon and 1-1/2 teaspoons white sugar
1 tablespoon and 1-1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon and 1-1/2 teaspoons oyster sauce
1 cup water
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons and 1-1/2 teaspoons water
2 tablespoons shortening
1-1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
Dissolve 1/4 cup sugar in 1 3/4 cups warm water, and then add the yeast. Let stand for 10 minutes, or until mixture is frothy. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Stir in 2 tablespoons shortening and the yeast mixture; mix well. Knead the dough until smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a greased bowl, and cover it with a sheet of cling wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm place for about 2 hours, or until it has tripled in bulk. Cut the pork into 2 inch thick strips. Use fork to prick it all over. Marinate for 5 hours in a mixture made with 1 1/2 tablespoons light soy sauce, 1 1/2 tablespoons hoisin sauce, and 1 teaspoon sweet soy sauce. Grill the pork until cooked and charred. Cut roasted port into 1/2 inch cubes. Combine 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar, 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce, oyster sauce, and 1 cup water in a saucepan. Bring to the boil. Mix cornstarch with 2 1/2 tablespoons water; add to the saucepan, and stir until thickened. Mix in 2 tablespoons lard or shortening, sesame oil, and white pepper. Cool, and mix in the roasted pork. Remove the dough from the bowl, and knead it on a lightly floured surface until it is smooth and elastic. Roll the dough into a long roll, and divide it into 24 pieces. Flatten each piece with the palm of the hand to form a thin circle. The center of the circle should be thicker than the edge.
Place one portion of the pork filling in the center of each dough circle. Wrap the dough to enclose the filling. Pinch edges to form the bun. Let the buns stand for 10 minutes. Steam buns for 12 minutes. Serve.
Cooking Term of the Week
Parboil- To partially cook food by boiling briefly in water. This may be done to longer cooking ingredients to make sure all ingredients are done at the same time such as in stir-fries.
Cool Website of the Week
This week's site is not a recipe site. It is however, related to food. It is The Hunger Site. This site is devoted to making a difference in ending world hunger. According to statistics every 3.6 seconds someone dies from hunger---75 percent are children.
The Hunger Site (www.thehungersite.com) is the world's first "click-to-donate" site where more than 88 million visitors have donated more than 10,000 metric tons of free food to help feed the hungry. They have done this by visiting The Hunger Site daily and simply clicking a button. The donations of staple food, paid for by The Hunger Site's sponsors, are distributed to the world's hunger hot-spots by the United Nations World Food Programme.
So take a few seconds out of your web surfing to visit the Hunger site and click on the button to donate food.