Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Jer: Steamed Pork Buns & Shu Mai (Recipe 8)

I am nostalgic for my paternal grandmother. She had a way of loving you and being really tough on you, all at once. My family on the Castillo side is going through a tough time on a number of fronts and I can’t help but feel that if she were still with us she’d know how to make it all right.

Her name was Patria, but we affectionately called her “Lola,” which means grandmother in Tagalog (the official language of the Philippines). It was in her kitchen that I learned how food can bind friends and family as well as create memories that last long after one has passed on. I was a rambunctious teenager in her final years and I had my fair share of arguments with Lola just before she became sick. Sometimes I wonder if I cook to be closer to her and to atone for some of my adolescent meanness. I imagine her looking down on me and smiling when I’m alone in the kitchen cooking a meal for a Castillo family party or when I’m teaching a sister or some of my younger cousins how to prepare a particular dish. Certainly she scoffs when I do something wrong or when I throw good food in the trash. Like many people from the old country, she hated waste.

My grandfather left a relatively high-ranking position in the Philippine government to bring our entire family to California. As most immigrant stories begin, there was a time when more than ten and at one point, up to 15 of us --aunts, uncles, grandchildren, and grandparents-- lived together in a single suburban tract home, fighting over the one television, the last liter of Coca Cola, leftovers, the shower. To make ends meet, Lola would prepare specialty Filipino foods and sell them to the local Asian markets. Uncle Ben, their next door neighbor who I have called “uncle” my entire life, owned one of the better known local markets and she began at first by selling to him, and over time to others in the area. Sometimes she’d let the grandchildren help out. These were joyous times for me - sitting at her dining table, cutting pulveron (a crumbly butter cookie, like shortbread, but flakier) and wrapping them with brightly colored tissue paper, or making delicate dumplings for her famous pancit molo (a delicious dumpling and meat broth soup that we’d savor at midnight every Christmas and New Year’s Eve and on other special occasions), or rolling fresh and fried lumpia (similar to the fresh Vietnamese spring roll and fried Thai spring roll, respectively). All of this was punctuated by more than a little giggling with my sisters and cousins. Lola would come around and spank our hands if we were doing something wrong or remind us that we were working too slow or wasting wonton wrappers. On occasion, she would tell my left-handed cousins that their dumplings were not as good because they were rolled or pinched in the wrong direction. Tough love, yes. But when you brought her a beautifully rolled dumpling or lumpia and could see the pride in her face, you couldn’t help but be the happiest little girl for the rest of the afternoon.

Lola would have turned 80 tomorrow. Lolo, our grandfather and Lola’s husband, is 2 days younger. As we celebrate his birthday this weekend, I am sure Lola will be at the party too, probably shaking her head because the food has been ordered from a catering company as opposed to someone in the family making it themselves. Last week we hosted an ad hoc dinner party which was attended by my sister Rachel, two of my cousins, and two close friends. Since my sister and cousins were there, I wanted to celebrate Lola, and we did so with a dim sum feast. As a result, for our group’s recipe #8, I thought we could all make siopao (steamed pork bun, or Chinese char siu bao; found in any self respecting Chinese bakery) and shu mai (steamed dumplings). Elaine assured me that everyone in the group cooks Asian food and would therefore have some, if not all, the required condiments. The steamed pork bun dough recipe is Lola’s. I remember sneaking bites of her uncooked dough and enjoying the cooked treasures straight out of her commercial sized steamer. The filling recipe is that of my Auntie Harriet’s mother (in a small world story, she is also my grandfather’s second wife (after our Lola passed) or our “Lola Viado”). A lovely woman and wonderful cook who joined my Lola a few years ago. The shu mai recipe comes from my dear friend Kaoru. I would love it if she told me her grandmother handed this recipe down to her. I don’t know if that is the case, but it makes me smile to think of another happy lola, this time in Japan, smiling down on all of us as we enjoy her century-old dumplings.

Siopao (steamed pork bun or Chinese char siu bao)

Dough
2 cups warm water
3 packages yeast
¼ C shortening
1 C sugar
6 C flour

Disolve yeast in warm water. Add sugar, cover and let sit for a few minutes. Add in rest of the ingredients. Knead until smooth, adding more flour if needed. Cover with damp cloth and let rise (~45 minutes).

Filling
10 oz bbq pork (buy pre-cooked and chop up)
3 T soy sauce
2 T sugar
1 T sesame oil
1 T flour
1 T corn starch
½ C stock or cold water

Dilute corn starch in stock or water. Mix all ingredients together. Cook until sauce thickens.

Cut off a decently sized chunk of dough. Ball, flatten, then roll out using extra flour if needed. Add filling to center and close up ball by pinching sides together. Place on square of parchment paper (Filipinos place them pinched side down whereas Chinese cooks make them pinched side up, sometimes with openings or sections that are not completely closed). Cover with damp cloth and let rise again. Steam for ~20 minutes and enjoy right away with a cold Asian beer to wash it down.

Shu Mai (the best dumpling recipe I have tried at home)

1 # ground beef (don’t use a cut that is too lean)
1 # ground pork
1 # fresh shrimp (chopped well but not fine nor ground)
1 medium onion (minced or grated on a cheese grater)
6 T potato starch (found in any baking aisle)
2.5 t salt
3 T sugar
Dash of pepper
1 T sake
1 T sesame oil
1 t soy sauce

Mix together, don’t over-mix as you will toughen meat. Place on wonton or shu mai wrappers (which are thinner and smaller). Smush down so they’re wrapped tight and sit upright on their own. You want the top to be open. Steam (place cabbage leaves or oil on steamer bottom to prevent sticking). Eat with asian mustard and soy sauce (TJ’s has a nice wasabi mustard that worked perfectly)

If having a dim sum party, make the filling ahead of time and have the group prepare the dumplings and steam in batches throughout the night while sipping sake or plum wine. That’s what we did and we had a blast – reminiscing about our grandmother, laughing about some of the recent (and silly) antics of our grandfather, and calling sisters and cousins on the speaker phone in between batches.

If you’re in the mood for more, like I was, here is Kaoru’s Chinese Sticky Rice recipe. Nelson (in the photo below) gobbled his up so fast. We all loved it.

Chinese Sticky Rice

3 C Japanese sweet rice (soak overnight)
2 C broth
Shitake mushrooms, chopped (if using dried, save broth)
1 medium carrot, minced
1 small can bamboo shoots, minced
1/2 # pork (not ground), minced and soaked in grated ginger
1/2 # ground pork (also soaked with grated ginger)
1 T sake
1 t salt
2 T soy sauce

Stir fry meat. Add vegetables and cook (can also add shrimp, peas, etc.). Add rice and cook After a few minutes, add broth and other ingredients. Cook until rice has absorbed liquid. Wrap portions in tin foil and steam for 20 minutes.

We finished the night off with coconut tapioca and piping hot green tea. I used the tapioca recipe on the back of the ubiquitous red box but substituted half of milk portion with coconut milk. Delicious. After a 20 minute break we broke out the green tea ice cream and ginger ice cream.

8 Comments:

Blogger Kate said...

I love pork buns..never thought I would make them but I am looking forward to the challenge...I think.
I am not confident about getting the potato starch...is it similar to corn starch and is corn starch the same as corn flour? I know Elaine, I need to hit the cooks thersaurus.
Elaine did you buy the corn starch you left with me in Brussels?

02 May, 2006 15:00  
Blogger Cath said...

All of these sound delish. Not sure which one to attack first! By the way, is there a brand of Asian mustard that you like?

02 May, 2006 16:12  
Blogger Jer said...

I never thought I'd make pork buns at home either, but I must admit, they were really, really easy and so good because you eat them right when they come out of the steamer. We did a batch with chicken sausage (to replace the bbq pork) and that came out nicely as well. On the web I found out that like flour and cornstarch, potato starch is used as a thickener but tolerates higher temperatures than corn starch. I also read that alot of it is made in Denmark. The shu mai and the rice were both really good too. We ate alot of food that night because we just couldn't stop. Trader Joe's has a wasabi mustard that worked great in soy sauce as a dipping sauce.

02 May, 2006 20:08  
Blogger Elaine said...

According to foodsubs.com, you can substitute potato starch with cornstarch. And Kate, yes, I did buy the cornstarch I left with you. I had used it to make cake flour.

02 May, 2006 22:02  
Blogger oakleyses said...

polo outlet, replica watches, louis vuitton, ugg boots, oakley sunglasses, ray ban sunglasses, air max, sac longchamp pas cher, prada outlet, jordan pas cher, tiffany and co, louis vuitton outlet, louboutin pas cher, polo ralph lauren outlet online, prada handbags, nike outlet, christian louboutin uk, michael kors pas cher, oakley sunglasses, nike free run, cheap oakley sunglasses, nike air max, longchamp outlet, gucci handbags, chanel handbags, oakley sunglasses wholesale, tiffany jewelry, kate spade outlet, louis vuitton, oakley sunglasses, burberry pas cher, nike roshe, jordan shoes, christian louboutin, louis vuitton outlet, uggs on sale, ugg boots, ray ban sunglasses, nike free, replica watches, nike air max, longchamp pas cher, louis vuitton outlet, christian louboutin shoes, longchamp outlet, tory burch outlet, christian louboutin outlet, polo ralph lauren, ray ban sunglasses

03 August, 2016 22:20  
Blogger oakleyses said...

nike blazer pas cher, coach outlet, nike air force, timberland pas cher, michael kors outlet online, burberry handbags, ray ban uk, nike air max uk, ray ban pas cher, michael kors outlet, hollister uk, michael kors outlet online, nike air max uk, coach outlet store online, michael kors outlet online, true religion outlet, lululemon canada, north face, new balance, burberry outlet, kate spade, mulberry uk, hollister pas cher, ralph lauren uk, michael kors outlet, nike air max, abercrombie and fitch uk, north face uk, michael kors, nike tn, guess pas cher, vans pas cher, true religion jeans, michael kors outlet online, nike roshe run uk, coach purses, nike free uk, sac hermes, oakley pas cher, uggs outlet, michael kors outlet, converse pas cher, true religion outlet, true religion outlet, replica handbags, uggs outlet, hogan outlet, sac vanessa bruno, michael kors

03 August, 2016 22:21  
Blogger oakleyses said...

mac cosmetics, nike air max, mont blanc pens, ferragamo shoes, new balance shoes, nike huaraches, abercrombie and fitch, hollister, nfl jerseys, north face outlet, vans outlet, celine handbags, valentino shoes, iphone cases, gucci, mcm handbags, nike roshe run, lancel, hollister clothing, p90x workout, oakley, ray ban, vans, chi flat iron, nike air max, jimmy choo outlet, herve leger, asics running shoes, baseball bats, hermes belt, converse outlet, instyler, ralph lauren, louboutin, hollister, insanity workout, ghd hair, bottega veneta, babyliss, soccer jerseys, timberland boots, longchamp uk, lululemon, converse, north face outlet, soccer shoes, nike trainers uk, reebok outlet, wedding dresses, beats by dre

03 August, 2016 22:23  
Blogger oakleyses said...

ugg,uggs,uggs canada, louis vuitton, thomas sabo, louis vuitton, karen millen uk, louis vuitton, pandora charms, montre pas cher, wedding dresses, pandora uk, moncler, moncler outlet, moncler uk, marc jacobs, ugg, hollister, links of london, doudoune moncler, coach outlet, canada goose outlet, canada goose outlet, louis vuitton, ugg,ugg australia,ugg italia, louis vuitton, canada goose jackets, canada goose, pandora jewelry, toms shoes, juicy couture outlet, supra shoes, canada goose outlet, canada goose uk, moncler, juicy couture outlet, ugg pas cher, moncler outlet, moncler, replica watches, swarovski, pandora jewelry, ugg uk, swarovski crystal, canada goose, moncler, canada goose

03 August, 2016 22:27  

Post a Comment

<< Home