Each week on the Food Chain, we ask a chef to describe a dish he or she recently enjoyed. The chef who prepared the dish responds and then picks his or her own memorable meal. On and on it goes. Last week, Tom Colicchio fell for chef Ting Yen’s sakura-smoked hamachi at Oishii in Boston. What’s had you begging for more lately, Ting?
Who: Ting Yen, chef-owner of Oishii
What: Abalone shumai
Where: South Sea Seafood Village, San Francisco
“The dim sum at San Francisco’s South Sea Seafood Village is great. I go there every time I visit my sister in San Francisco. One of my favorite dishes is the abalone shumai with minced pork. It combines the crunchiness of the water chestnut and earthy taste of dry shiitake mushroom with minced pork and abalone juice, all wrapped together in a thin silky egg dough wrapper with generous slices of well-cooked abalone on top. Shumai is usually just made with shrimp or pork, but using abalone is a very San Francisco thing to do. It’s very fresh and original.”
South Sea Seafood Village head dim sum chef Churk Liu responds, via manager and translator Terry Chan.
“The dim sum we make here is fairly typical of southern Chinese dim sum, and the kind you find in nicer restaurants in Hong Kong. We make all of our own dumpling wrappers, which is part of what makes our shumai so good — a handmade wrapper made with egg and wheat flour. This is a traditional shumai, made with pork and shrimp, but we place a piece of tender, braised abalone on top.
“You don’t often see abalone featured on dim sum menus because it is a fairly expensive item, but you do see it in a few of the nicer places in San Francisco. We braise our abalone overnight, for at least ten hours, in a reduced supreme broth of chicken, Virginia ham, pork, rice wine, and a dozen other ingredients. It comes out very nice and tender.”