DIM SUM MONTH CONTINUES…
WHAT: Stuffed rice wrapper rolls they call “cheung fun“!
WHY: These gorgeous and elegant beauties are often overlooked on the dim sum table because of their less flashy appearances, mellow flavor profiles, and batters with the wrong ratio that results in unfortunate, mushy-textured wrappers. Well, that ain’t their fault, in fact, cheung-fun is the most versatile blank canvas waiting for someone who appreciates its possibilities.
HOW: In restaurants, this dish is always made to order. The rice batter is usually steamed with the filling on top then rolled into a log and served with sweet soy sauce. This method has its virtues but also, many flaws. It is convenient from a restaurant’s perspective, allowing them to serve the dish hot and speedy, but not necessarily so from a creative point of view. Making the dish to order will be unrealistic to pull off for at-home dinner parties, and steaming the wrappers and the fillings simultaneously will greatly limits its possibilities. So, we are going to prepare the rice wrappers beforehand, and assemble them with the filling at the last minute. In my wildest dreams where money flows like abs in a Channing Tatum movie, I would make the filling with gently poached lobster meat and XL lumpy blue crabs tossed together with herby mayonnaise and a few popping jewels of ikura (Japanese cured salmon roes). But I live in the real world. As you can see that my XXL Magic Mike-version is reduced down to slow baked then torched salmon with cheap-but-not-sad 15-seconds magic scrambled eggs. Still Magic, just less Mike. Serve the dish on a hot plate and simmering sweet soy sauce to bring the warmth back. Hey, still fucking sexy.
By the way, most of the recipes in DIM SUM MONTH is designed to be prepared ahead of time. Make each items and store them in the freezer (well, not this particular recipe), and at the end of the month, we’re going to have a dim sum blowout party. See ya!
For the RICE WRAPPER recipe, I strongly recommend measuring by weight (not volume).
- 3/4 cup + 1 1/2 tbsp (100 grams) short grain rice flour
- 1/4 cup (33 grams) potato starch
- 1 cup + 2 tbsp (267 grams) water
- 1 lb (500 grams) mid-cut salmon
- 1 tbsp salt
- 2 tbsp finely diced scallions
- 1 tbsp plain mayonnaise
- 1 portion 15-seconds magic scrambled eggs (3 eggs)
- fresh cilantro leaves
- 1/3 cup (94 grams) soy sauce
- 2 tbsp + 2 tsp (31 grams) light brown sugar
- 2 tbsp (30 grams) water
- This instruction differs from how restaurants typically do it, which is to always steam the cheung-fun/rice wrapper and the fillings together simultaneously, right before serving. Here, I prepare the cheung-fun/rice wrapper separately and beforehand. It gives me more control to play with the fillings, and makes them easier to prepare for a party.
- PREPARE THE CHEUNG-FUN/RICE WRAPPER: Make the wrappers up to 4 hours before serving. Check out RICE RIBBON for more referrences. In a jar that's easy to pour, whisk together rice flour, potato starch and water.
- For steamer, you can use any large pot with a rack placed in the middle to hold the mold/pan. I used a 6" (15 cm) square cake-pan as my mold to make the rice wrapper because 1) It fits into my steamer/pot (see photo). 2) It's just the right size for one single roll. If you have a larger steamer that can allow a bigger pan that will cut down the number of time of steaming, you can do that as well.
- Fill the steamer/pot with enough water just below the steamer-rack, then bring to a boil over high heat. Brush the pan with a bit of canola oil and place it on top of the rack. Give the batter a little whisk (do this every time before you pour), then pour just enough batter to create a thin film on the bottom of the pan. ADJUST THE POT so that it's LEVELED, and that the batter is evenly thick on all sides. Close the lid and steam on high heat for 1 min. The wrapper is ready when you see large air bubbles when you remove the lid. Brush the top surface of the wrapper with a little canola oil, then tilt the pan over a piece of parchment paper so it faces downward, then scrape the wrapper off so it falls onto the parchment. Repeat until you've used up all the batters, and keep each wrappers sandwiched between parchments. Plastic-wrap the whole stack and set aside until needed.
- PREPARE FILLING: Two hours before serving. Preheat the oven on 155 F/70 C. Rub the 1 tbsp of salt all over the salmon and let sit for 20 min, after which, rinse and pat dry with a clean towel. Place on a piece of parchment paper and rub the salmon with a bit of olive oil, then wrap tightly with the parchment. Place in the middle baking-rack (NO BAKING SHEET) and bake for 1:20 hour. Crumble the salmon into large pieces, and if you have a blow-torch, torch the surfaces so they're a bit charred. Gently toss the salmon with scallions and mayo (do the same if you're using lobster or lumpy crab meats). Set aside. Make the magic scrambled eggs. Set aside.
- Lay one cheung-fun/rice wrapper with the oiled side down (that would be the top surface when it came out of the steamer, which is the pretty side). Scatter a few cilantro leaves across the middle, then a bit of salmon fillings and scrambled eggs. Gently roll it together, and repeat (only make as many as you're serving).
- Place the rolls on a hot plate (the dish should be warm when served). In a small pot, bring soy sauce, light brown sugar and water to a simmer until the sugar has melted, then spoon the sauce over the rice rolls. Serve immediately.
If your budget allows, you can switch to using lobster or large lumpy crab meats, or a combination of the two. I would gently poach the lobster, then cut the meat into small pieces. Toss the lobster meats together with lobster roes (or the "brain"), lumpy crab meats and the scallion mayo. If you have enough of this, you can even omit the scrambled eggs and go delux.