Dim sum are bite sized morsels of food often steamed but sometimes fried. They are traditionally served with tea in restaurants or inns across China and might be compared to the Spanish tradition of tapas.
I served these as a course in a Chinese New Year banquet which is not particularly traditional but worked really well to increase the range of flavours my guests got to eat without overloading them with vast quantities of food.
I made Szechuan Belly Pork; slowly cooked cubes of tender pork, spiked with chilli, star anise and ginger and tossed in a sticky sauce made of soy, sugar and rice wine vinegar. I also made pork and prawn wonton; minced pork and prawns, flavoured with ginger and oyster sauce, wrapped in a wonton wrapper and served with a dipping sauce.
Most of the ingredients should be easy to get hold of but if you can’t get rice wine dry sherry will do. I also struggled to get hold of wonton wrappers locally – I foolishly thought that they would be easily available but tried three different supermarkets, two health food shops and a specialist grocer, all to no avail. I eventually took a 50 mile round trip to Penzance to an Asian grocers because I left it to late to buy them on line!
Szechuan Pork Belly
500g / 1lb Boneless Pork Belly
2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
4 dried Red Chillies
6 Star Anise
2.5cm / 1” Piece Root Ginger
1 tsp Sea Salt
1 tbsp Rice Vinegar
2 tbsp Sugar
1 tbsp Soy Sauce
1 tbsp Sesame Seeds
Cut the belly pork into 1” cubes (you can ask your butcher to do this if you like).
Put the pork into a wok or a large, non-stick frying pan and cover completely with cold water. Add 3 of the dried chillies, the ginger, star anise and salt. Bring to the boil then turn down the heat and simmer very gently until all the water has gone and the pork is tender. Remove the spices and continue cooking the pork until it is crisped and golden on all sides. Remove the meat from the pan and keep warm.
Put 100 ml of water into the pan and add the vinegar, sugar and soy sauce. Chop the remaining chilli and add to the pan. Bring to the boil and stir continuously until the sauce has reduced to a sticky glaze.
Return the pork to the wok, sprinkle in the sesame seeds and cook everything together until the pork is well coated in the sticky glaze.
Pork & Prawn Wonton
175g / 6 oz Minced Pork
85g / 3 ½ oz Peeled Prawns
2 Spring Onions
2 Cloves Garlic
2 tsp roughly chopped Root Ginger
2 tbsp Oyster Sauce
1 tsp Sesame Oil
12 Wonton Wrappers
2 tbsp Soy Sauce
2 tbsp Rice Wine
2 tsp Grated Root Ginger
Put all the ingredients except the wonton wrappers into a food processor and pulse until combined into a coarse paste.
Lay the wonton wrappers out a few at a time and wet around the edge of each one using a pastry brush and a little water. Place a teaspoon of the pork and prawn mixture in the centre of each wrapper (don’t over-fill) pull up the edges and squeeze well to seal.
Bring a large pan of water to the boil and line a steamer with parchment paper and arrange the wontons in a single layer on top of the paper. Steam for around 5 minutes until cooked through and piping hot. You may have to cook them in batches.
To make the dipping sauce simply stir all the ingredients together and serve next to the wontons in a small bowl.