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Dim Sum: The Art of Chinese Tea Lunch

by: Ellen Leong Blonder

New York NY: Clarkson Potter 2002, $25.00, Hardbound
ISBN: 0-60960887-8

Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Fall Volume: 2002 Issue: 9(3) page(s): 21

Making the recipes in this delightfully author-illustrated volume can touch your heart. That matches 'dot your heart’ which is what 'dim sum' means. Included in this volume are more than sixty author-favorite versions. Make them and they will be yours.

Before setting out to provide the recipes, Blonder discusses dumplings, Chinese breads and baked dishes served along with dumplings, and other snack or breakfast foods, rice and rice-flour dishes, greens and pan-fried dishes, deep-fried ones, and those made with bean curd sheets, also other meats and sweets. As such, there are many foods you probably tasted at your own favorite dim sum eatery. She also tells about eight general types of tea and how to brew them, and she shares recipes for four sauce items, how to make five-spice powder, and more.

We fell in love with her Deep-fried Stuffed Eggplant, especially its black-bean sauce. This dish would be a winner at any meal. Eating baked buns was her run-away from college fantasy; her Baked Char Siu Bao buns can be yours. Vegetarians will delight in Three-Mushroom Dumplings, they are better than any other vegetarian ones a vegan friend happily advised. The Bean Curd Rolls are a meat-lover’s pleasure and perfect for those with Celiac disease as they are allergic to gluten (if they leave out the teaspoon of soy sauce as it is made with a mite of wheat, and they paste them with cornstarch and water).

The flyleaf attached to the cover advises that this book is a gem that any student of Chinese cooking will treasure. We advise that preparing its contents will make you a gem of a cook.
Deep-fried Stuffed Eggplant
6 ounces peeled shrimp, chopped or ground
1 scallion top, minced fine
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon rice wine
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 pound thin Japanese-style eggplants
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 Tablespoon four
2 cups corn oil
1 whole scallion, thinly sliced on the angle
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon fermented black beans, mashed slightly
1/2 teaspoon thin soy sauce or any flavored soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with one tablespoon cold water
1. Prepare the filling by mixing shrimp, green scallion top, half teaspoon salt, rice wine and the teaspoon of cornstarch, then set it aside.
2. Cut off the ends of the eggplant and angle-cut them into one inch thick ovals. Take a small one-quarter-inch wedge out of each one; be careful not to cut in more than two-thirds of the way through. Salt the eggplant pieces with the remaining quarter teaspoon and let this rest for twenty minutes. While waiting, preheat the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.. Then wipe each eggplant slice dry with a paper towel, and stuff each one with some of the shrimp mixture.
3. Mix flour and cornstarch and dip each eggplant slice in it.
4. Deep fry a few eggplant pieces until lightly browned. Drain and put on a metal sheet and keep them warm in the oven. Repeat until all are fried and drained. Remove oil to another container.
5. Heat one teaspoon of the oil that was set aside and add the pieces of the whole scallion and fry for half a minute. Add the chicken broth, black beans, soy sauce, and sugar and a soon as it boils, add cornstarch water and cook until thickened, about a minute.
6. Put eggplant pieces on a serving dish, drizzle the sauce on them and serve.

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