DIM SUM MONTH FINALE: Tapenade short ribs, plus dim sum party game plan
AT LAST, DIM SUM MONTH FINALE…
WHAT: Beef short ribs in super garlicky tapenade sauce, an adaptation of a classic dimsum item – pork ribs with fermented black beans but with an American/European twist.
WHY: The unexpectedly supple texture of the beef (thanks to baking soda) melting gorgeously into a pool of bold and complex mixture of flavors, a revelation that can be easily prepared ahead of time and cooks in under 8 min.
HOW: For both flavors and accessibility, I have swapped the traditionally used diced pork ribs with the more luscious and rich-tasting beef short ribs, and Chinese fermented black beans with the equally bold and forward black olives. Trust me, if I may say so myself, the reinvented combination works even better than tradition. The surprisingly tender and velvety texture of the beef – achieved by adding just a tiny pinch of baking soda into the marinate – disintegrates in your mouth in a medley of perfectly orchestrated flavours that you didn’t even know would go together. Black olives, strawberry jam, soy sauce, sesame oil, Dijon mustard, and a depth created by using both raw and fried garlics. It’s easy to put together, and a cinch to cook in a blink of an eye. You’ll wonder where it’s been your whole life.
Now, simply follow the instructions below on how to throw a hassle-free dim sum party!
- 16 oz (450 grams) thinly sliced beef short ribs
- 2 tbsp water
- 2 tsp strawberry jam, or other types available
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1/2 tsp dark soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
- 1/2 tsp chicken powder
- 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
- 1/8 tsp baking soda
- 6 cloves garlic, super finely minced
- 17 (57 grams) pitted black olives, super finely minced
- 6~8 red chilis
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
- MARINATE BEEF: Cut the thinly sliced short ribs in between the bones into smaller slices. Set aside in a large bowl, and add water, jam, sea salt, Dijon mustard, dark soy sauce, sesame oil, chicken powder, ground white pepper, and baking soda (this is the "meat tenderizer" if you will), then mix evenly until every slices are evenly coated. Marinate for 2 hours.
- Divide the minced garlics in half. Trim off the stems of the red chili but keep them whole. In a skillet, add 1/2 of the garlics and extra virgin olive oil and cook over medium-high heat. Stirring constantly, and just when you see the garlics are getting slightly browned on the edges, add the minced black olives. Continue to cook and stir for another couple min, then transfer the mixture into another bowl to cool (don't let it cool in the hot skillet because it will burn the garlics). Once cooled, add the remaining 1/2 of the garlics and chilis and mix to combine.
- Squeeze out 1 tbsp of oil from the garlic-olive mixture, and add it to the short ribs. Add cornstarch and mix until evenly combined. Then add the rest of the garlic-olive mixture, and gently mix again until even. You can prepare this up to a few hours before hand.
- TO COOK: One serving would be about 4~5 slices of short ribs. Place a small dish inside your bamboo steamer, and 4~5 slices of short ribs (mix evenly again before cooking) inside the dish. Steam on high heat for 8 min. Serve immediately.
NOW, IT’S TIME TO LAY OUT A GAME PLAN…
Dim sum is the ultimate but somehow overlooked choice for throwing an effortless but fun dinner party.
- Most of the heavy liftings can be done up to one or even two weeks ahead of time.
- You can cook multiple items simultaneously inside stacked up bamboo steamers in the exact amount of cooking time, which is only 5~8 min!
- Each items are in small and adorable portions, which means you can simply steam more if the demand is up, but not flooding the table that you end up with leftovers.
- The short cooking time and the easy steamer-method allows you to actually enjoy and talk to your guests! And also, which let’s all admit is important, to greet your guests in presentable fashion without the fear of ruining your nice clothes in the kitchen.
- A lot of the uncooked items are straight out of the freezer anyways, so you can finish them whenever you like. In fact, dim sum is the perfect freezer-meal!
So here’s the game plan:
You’ll need small, stacked up bamboo steamers such as these. The steamers won’t necessarily fit into any of your existing pots, but that’s okay. Find a pot that has a slightly wider, or smaller diameter. Circle the edge of the pot with a ring of wet towel, and let the steamers rest on top of the towel. The towel will prevent any steam from escaping through the gaps, which is important.
UP TO ONE~TWO WEEKS AHEAD OF TIME:
- Make crystal shrimp dumplings. Flash freeze them until hard, then store in an air-tight bag in the freezer until needed. Keep the shrimp oil in an air-tight jar to make the shrimp oil mayonnaise later (instruction follows).
- Make charsiu buns (before second proofing). Flash freeze them until hard, then store in an air-tight bag in the freezer until needed. Prepare the pineapple crust later (instruction follows).
- Make charsiu hand pies. Flash freeze them until hard, then store in an air-tight bag in the freezer until needed.
- Make pork belly buns (before second proofing). Flash freeze them until hard, then store in an air-tight bag in the freezer until needed.
- Make glass dumpling with mushroom and gouda cheese. Flash freeze them until hard, then store in an air-tight bag in the freezer until needed.
UP TO ONE~FOUR DAYS AHEAD OF TIME:
- Make the shrimp oil mayonnaise and keep in an air-tight jar inside the fridge.
- Make chili sambal romesco sauce (for mushroom and gouda cheese glass dumplings, and as a general spicy condiment), and keep in an air-tight jar inside the fridge.
- Make the pineapple crust for chars buns. Pat it into a flat disk in between two pieces of parchment. Fold the parchment, and keep inside the fridge.
SIX HOURS BEFORE SERVING:
- Bring the pull-apart charsiu buns out of the freezer and put them inside the baking-pan. And bring pork belly buns out of the freezer, and place each over a small piece of parchment on top of a baking-sheet. Cover both with plastic-wrap and let thaw and proof in a warm place. If your oven has a dough-proofing setting, great, but if not, 6 hours is still plenty of time even in my relatively cool apartment. The buns should almost double (but not fully) in size before baking or steaming, about 80% expansion. If they are proofing too fast, simply put the in the fridge to slow down.
- Make the sweet soy sauce for scrambled eggs and salmon rice rolls. Set aside until needed.
TWO TO THREE HOURS BEFORE SERVING:
- Bake the salmon, for the rice wrapper rolls.
- Make the rice wrappers. Keep each wrappers stacked in between parchment papers, and leave at room-temperature until needed.
- Make the batter for the turnip cake fritters.
ONE HOUR BEFORE SERVING:
- Roll the pineapple crust and place it over the pull-apart charsiu buns. Brush with egg-wash and start baking them 10 min before the guests come (they should finish 10 min after the guests come). Do the same if you’re making charsiu hand pies.
AFTER THE GUESTS ARRIVE:
- Make 15-seconds magic scrambled eggs, and finish rolling the scrambled eggs and salmon rice rolls.
- Fry the turnip cake fritters. PSST… if you’re not a fan of frying, you can also pan-fry them like pancakes!
- Place the pork belly buns, shrimp crystal dumpling, mushroom and gouda cheese glass dumpling, and tapenade beef short ribs into their individual dim sum steamer. Stack them up (don’t stack more than 5 steamers at a time, but you can cook 2 stacks over 2 different pots), and steam on high heat according to the instruction above, for 8 min.
THAT’S IT! SERVE EVERYTHING ALL TOGETHER AND HAVE A BLAST.