Photo by Jeffrey Cross
Chef Wong's expert touch ensures dumplings are tender and flavorful but not too sticky.
What's the rush? Master chefs from a Hong Kong institution are on the verge of retirement.
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The dirty secret of Hong Kong’s dim sum scene is that most places use the frozen stuff. Not so at Lin Heung, a celebrated classic. Its obsessive chefs have worked together for four long decades. Soon, master head chef Wong Kam Shing and his crew, now in their late 60s, will all retire together. When the next generation steps in, these refined creations just won’t taste the same.
Done right, preparing shrimp dumplings requires razor focus. The shrimp is soaked and flavored so it’s plump to the touch and pops on the tongue. Chef Wong’s team actually calibrates the dough according to the day’s weather forecast.
Fun to say and eat, less fun to make. Chefs smooth a layer of rice noodle batter onto a thin cloth, then steam it over boiling water. Their careful hands separate the cloth from the noodle, then roll it gently around shrimp, beef, or pork.
Chefs fold, flatten, and repeatedly freeze dough, then roll it out and cut it into crusts much like puff pastry. They strain the custard filling until it’s 100 percent smooth and take care to bake it just right so it emerges without cracks.
Siu Mai with Quail Egg
To assemble this pork dumpling, rarely seen outside Hong Kong, the chefs enclose the meat in a handmade wrapper, top it with a hard-boiled quail egg, cover it with another wrapper, and then steam it.
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