Veteran restaurant Dim Sum had been around for a decade now. I have had the honour of dining here for a good few of them. Over the years the restaurant has grown and broadened in terms of the range of dishes and unique flavours and I always find myself happy to return time and again for a gorgeous meal. But enough about me…
Dim sum are Chinese dumplings filled with all sorts of goodness. In Chinese, dim sum means ‘a bit of heart’ or ‘heart’s delight’, depending on which translation you go for, and is a meal made up of many small dishes. The dumplings can be made of glutinous flour and appear white, or clear, allowing one to see the filling (very decorative), rice flour, regular flour (egg or yeast dough) and more. The dumplings also come in various attractive shapes. And the fillings? The range is impressive in term of colour, taste and texture. The dumplings can be steamed or deep fried, served in soup or as a meal unto itself.
Tami was happy to join me for a dim sum making workshop held at the restaurant around a large table for 10. The workshops are help on Friday afternoons – and I couldn’t imagine a more appealing lunch than this.
The chef began with making the glutinous flour dough, which becomes clear after steaming. This dough is meant only for steaming, not for deep-frying. One of the ingredients for making this dough was potato starch. This dough is very special in my opinion, also in terms of how you work with it: you must work with it and knead it while it’s still hot (you add boiling water to the flour) and not just that, but after kneading, the dough is stored in sealed bag in order to keep it hot until you are ready to make the actual dumplings.
What a mission! The first fold managed to confuse us, but throughout the workshop we kept going back to it because it was much simpler than the rest. In the beginning we practiced on a small ball of dough in place of filling, and only later substituted the real thing.
The next dough we worked with was a yeast dough used to make bao (steamed buns). The bao are round little buns filled with goodness and like the glutinous dough, can also only be steamed. This folding technique was fun to learn – even I mastered it!
At this point we had already been given permission to start folding the dough over real filling. We received a number of bowls filled with various tasty fillings. I know this because while folding, we also sampled…spinach and peanuts with sesame oil and oyster sauce, sweet potato and cilantro, pumpkin and ginger, goose breast or chicken with green onion, ginger, vegetables and nuts, ground beef with vegetables and various spices and more. Ron, who ran the workshop with the chef, took care of refilling the bowls, along with our drink glasses. In addition to soft drinks there was also tasty plum wine to accompany the preparations.
How talented we are! In the beginning our dim sum came out enormous! But after a while we managed to make them smaller: we continued and learned the folds for the shui-mai and the wonton (egg dough, also used for making egg rolls) and wheat-flour, which we make the gioza from - a sort of half-bao fold, or something of a crescent moon.
The exact folding technique is a bit hard to describe. You really need to be there. The experience is thoroughly enjoyable and everyone helps each other in order to learn. Every so often Ran would disappear with the plates we’d been filling with dim sum and arrange them on a huge steamer. Fifteen minutes later came the reward – 3 huge steamers filled with the fruits of our labour were placed on the table. Oh how we stuffed ourselves.
By the end of the workshop we had try truly become folding experts. And there was even good news for the less talented folder among us: you can even make delicious dim sum in the simplest half mood shape that sort of look like tortellini.
The Chinese eat a lot of dim sum. The shapes are as plentiful and varied as are the types of dough and filling. I felt a little Chinese myself during the workshop. And because I know and love the Dim Sum restaurant, I felt like they’d let me in on the restaurant’s secrets. We got to know all the delicious fillings and discovered the secrets of the special folds. Looking down at our hands, we couldn’t help but feel impressed with ourselves – there was even a sense of ‘heart’s delight’!
120 Allenby, corner of Rothschild, Tel Aviv
Tel: *9292, 03-5604310, 03-5604341