Zen & The Art of Dimsum Making
There is something about a basket of steaming hot dimsums, which evokes a feeling of Zen or happiness within most of us. Dimsums in China, especially in the Cantonese areas, represent a wellness-laden way of life and were part of the ancient Chinese Yum Cha tradition, an afternoon ritual at tea houses along the Silk Route Road, where this bite-sized snack was also served along with endless cups of fragrant Chinese tea to travellers taking a much-needed respite.
Park Hyatt Hyderabad recently organised, as part of its Popup Kitchen Series, a dimsum-making demo session & a preview dinner, (before its Dimsum Delights festival commenced from May 5th to May 15th) at its pan-Asian speciality restaurant Oriental Bar & Kitchen (OBK). At the helm was the extremely talented Chinese-of-origin Chef Zhang Yajun from China House, the epic Chinese restaurant of Grand Hyatt, Mumbai, who happens to be their dimsum chef too!
It was a keen bunch of a couple of food bloggers, including yours truly, who had the privilege of being taught by Chef Zhang about the fine art of dimsum dough making, rolling and steaming, as he showcased two recipes. Dimsums are the generic name, and the shape varies between dumplings, rolls and buns. Zhang started off with a spinach prawn roll, in which a blanched spinach leaf was rolled out like a dimsum sheet with minced prawn as filling. Deft at his craft, the chef kept doling out useful tips like how the filling should be glazed with sesame oil and potato starch, and the fact that prawn dimsums require as little as 4 minutes to cook, chicken 5 minutes and lamb 6-8 minutes.
Here’s Chef Zhang posing with his creations:
The prawn spinach roll looked something like this:
Next up was a mixed mushroom dumpling, which had shitake, oyster and button mushrooms minced with spring onions and seasonings, and filled into dimsum sheets which were rolled out deftly by chef with his half rolling pin. At the end of the session
Lesson learnt (and hopefully put to future use) we sat down to a lovely meal of dimums & more dimsums, accompanied by some lovely Chinese tea from delicate porcelain cups. There was Chicken Prawn Sui Mai, Steamed Crystal Prawn dumplings, Steam Lamb Dumpling with Chinese cabbage, Mix Mushrooms with Pine nuts and a host of others. Dimsums were followed by some delish China House noodles, which is a signature special of the epic Chinese restaurant of Grand Hyatt.
For desserts, there was a delightful combination of fried banana fritters with coconut ice cream. Quite the ending to a perfect meal, with a Zen like state of mind overcoming me.
(Chef Zhang Yajun would be showcasing a specialised menu of 25 & more steamed and fried dimsums, at Oriental Bar & Kitchen for dinner and lunch (weekends only for a fabulous price of Rs 1000 for unlimited dimsums, noodles and desserts) until May 15, 2016).