Dim Sum with a Twitter Friend
Joining Twitter is like being the new kid at school. Everyone else already has friends, everyone is chattering away in their little cliques, and you are standing alone on the sidelines, trying to find a way to break in.
You begin to follow people and start commenting – tentatively, at first – looking for common ground. Like any in-person conversation, you try to engage in the conversation going on around you. Someone tweets that they are cooking a certain dish. You tweet back, “How do you make it?” Someone is back from vacation. You ask, “How was your trip?” And you hope these strangers will respond and follow you back.
And bit by bit, 140 characters at a time (the maximum number allowed on Twitter), you begin to make friendships through the chatter. One person has a pet rabbit that he takes with him on vacation. Another is a devoted mother who is cataloging her teenage daughter’s active life through photos. Someone is getting married. A grandchild is born. Someone mourns the loss of a friend and your heart goes out to him in his sorrow. Soon you are making personal connections with people from around the U.S., Australia, the Philippines, Hong Kong and the U.K. And you are enriched by these relationships.
The first Twitter friend I met in person was the ebullient Melissa Chang, @Melissa808, from Honolulu. Yesterday, I had a dim sum lunch with Julie Deily, @thelittlekitchn. Julie, a software engineer from Central Florida and a food blogger, was one of the first people I met on Twitter.
Julie was in the San Francisco Bay Area this week on business. We met for dim sum at my favorite dim sum establishment, Koi Palace in Daly City, named a Top 100 Restaurant for the past eight years by the San Francisco Chronicle.
Julie started her blog, The Little Kitchen, in 2009 as a means of sharing after-party recipes with her guests who always seemed to be asking for them.
“I kept talking about starting a blog but I was waiting until I had a good camera,” she recalled. Her sister insisted that she was wasting time and she should not put it off. “Two days later, I started it,” she said.
The most satisfying thing about blogging, Julie says, is the community of friends that she has made and the people she has met through blogging and on Twitter.
We had a thoroughly lovely time getting acquainted between the morsels of delectable tidbits that we shared at Koi Palace. I have found that dim sum, the original small plates meal, is conducive to conversation, when you are meeting a new friend.
If you’d like to try your hand at making your own Chinese small plates, here are a few from our previous Special Fork posts:
- Chinese Scallion Pancakes by Andrew Hunter uses flour tortillas as an easy short-cut to make these delicious nibbles.
- Apricot Spare Ribs makes easy finger food.
- Chinese Egg Custard Tarts by Marilyn Hunter uses prepared tartlet shells to whip up this dim sum classic in no time.
Or try your hand at making Siu Mai, a mainstay on any dim sum menu. This is a little fussy to make, but there are just four steps: prepare the filling, cut the wrappers, stuff and steam. You can use a collapsible metal steamer basket if you don’t have a Chinese steamer.
Siu Mai (Shrimp and Pork Steamed Dumplings)
7 to 8 large dried shiitake mushrooms
12 ounces fatty ground pork
4 ounces peeled and deveined shrimp, tails removed, and minced
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sake or dry sherry
½ teaspoon sesame oil
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
26 wonton wrappers
26 frozen peas, defrosted
Additional soy sauce and hot chili oil for dipping (optional)
To make filling: Put mushrooms in a bowl and add very warm water to cover. Set aside for about 15 minutes to soften. When softened, drain, squeeze water out of mushrooms and finely chop to make ½ cup. In large bowl, combine pork, shrimp, oyster sauce, cilantro, soy sauce, sake, sesame oil and pepper; mix thoroughly.
To prepare the wrappers: Using a 3-inch diameter biscuit cutter, cut wonton wrappers in circles. You should be able to cut them two at a time. Discard scraps. Cover circles with plastic wrap to prevent drying. If you don’t have a biscuit cutter, use a glass cup or use a tuna can with both ends removed.
To assemble: Put water in a small, shallow bowl and set next to your workspace. Lay a wonton wrapper on your work space. Dip your finger in water and wet the edges of the circles. Spoon a rounded tablespoon of filling in the center of the wrapper. Gather the edges of the wrapper around the filling, pinching and pleating to form a cup to contain the filling. Wet your finger and smooth the top, and top with a pea in the center. Repeat with remaining wrappers.
To cook: Arrange dumplings in a steamer, close together but not touching each other or they will stick. Steam for 15 minutes. If you don’t have a steamer, use a vegetable steamer basket in a pot of simmering water. Be careful that the water doesn’t rise to the level of the steamer basket. Steam in batches, in necessary.
Serve Siu Mai with soy sauce and hot chili oil, if desired.
Makes 26 pieces.
Note: You can grind your own pork using boneless pork spare ribs, including the fat. If you can find a Chinese butcher, inform that that you are making Siu Mai so you can get ground pork with a good fat to lean ratio. Lean ground pork will make a tough, dry dumpling.
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