Saturday, February 21, 2015

A Dim Sum Sunday

"The Sum Never Dims On The Chinese Empire."
Not Our Dim Sum, but Singapore's Best
Two visits in the past seven months to Jing Teng, a dim sum restaurant in Mexico City, animated Doña Cuevas and me to plan a dim sum luncheon at home.

Sra. Cuevas and I invited a total of six guests to attend. Nancy volunteered to make Wonton Soup, Ms. RedShoes was to bring a salad of mixed, organic greens from her garden, Geni and Larry brought nibbling food of seasoned peanuts and fava beans, and Ron, made a sorbet/iced Mandarin Orange soup.

I was delighted to organize the meal, as well as making Char Siu from scratch, uncovering recipes for scallion cakes, bao dough and two bao fillings.

My first step was to go to our favorite carnicería in Pátzcuaro, La Sin Rival. On a Friday the week before the slated Sunday lunch, I had a long and detailed discussion with the son of the owner in regard to which cut of pork would work best. We decided on panceta, unsmoked bacon, better known as belly pork. I was emphatically assured that they would have it for me on the following Wednesday. I needed this meat several days in advance of the Sunday meal, as it must first be marinated, then roasted, and then chopped and stir fried with other ingredients for the filling.

Wednesday came, and the meat was not ready. I was told that it would be in on Thursday. Thursday came, and it was still not ready. I was tired and more than a little annoyed. I'd just come from the Pátzcuaro Mercado, where Carnicería La Norteña had had exactly what I needed. But I was reluctant to walk back to the Mercado, and sat down in the cafetería next door to La Sin Rival with dimming hope that son and father could obtain the promised cut of pork. After waiting 15 minutes, I was steaming. But then, Papá appeared on his motor bike with a bag. The pork was in the bag. My buns were saved!

Panceta (belly pork) and a few marinade ingredients
DC photo
Early Friday morning, I mixed the marinade for the char siu  and thawed a whole boneless, chicken breast for the other bao filling.
This is the recipe, from I used for the cha siu, with a few personalized changes, of course.

Marinated pork strips are double bagged.
DC photo
This was then refrigerated for 24 hours.

On Saturday, I slow roasted the pork strips for 1 1/2 hours. They came out irresistibly savory and fragrant. I used two strips for bao filling, about a pound each, and froze two more.

Marinated Pork Strips Before Roasting
DC photo
Marinated Pork After Slow Roasting 1 1/2 hours
DC photo
Small samples (L), were taken for testing and quality control.
DC photo
Early Sunday morning, I chopped the char siu and made the bao filling. I gussied it up by adding some diced bamboo shoots and special condiment sauces.

Dicing the Char Siu.
DC photo
I also made the Chicken—Shiitake Bao filling.

DC photo

A hard working cook must eat, so I took some diced cooked chicken breast, sliced ginger, a little rice and some ready to use Kirkland Organic Chicken Broth and made Chicken Congee. Congee is a slowly cooked rice gruel, with zesty condiments added to taste by the eater.
(The congee was not part of the dim sum meal.)

Cook's breakfast: Chicken Congee; mezcal de pechuga to the right.
DC photo
I sliced a boatload of scallions (Really, the smallest cebollitas I could find) for scallion cakes or other uses.)

Scallions are used in much of dim sum cookery.
G. Certain photo 
Several cups of scallions were used in the opener course of Scallion Cakes.

Hot Scallion Cakes. G. Certain photo
Details of the making of scallion cakes can be viewed here.
Next came the preparation of the bao doughs, containing both yeast and baking powder, as well as powdered milk. The recipe worked very well.

Meanwhile, Nancy and Mark arrived. Nancy and her helpers set up a won ton manufactory line on our ample kitchen counter.

Each won ton packet begins with a single step. This is the first.
G. Certain photo 
Wonton wrapping, step two.
G. Certain photo 
The ranks of the Peoples' Won Tons rally for the march!
G. Certain photo 
Soup by Nancy.
G. Certain photo 
The first courses, after the spicy nuts and nibbles, were the beautiful, home raised salad of Ms RedShoes and Nancy's Won Ton Soup.

Ms RedShoes' Organic Salad.
G. Certain photo 
Sayings of Chairman Bao
When the bao doughs were risen and punched and divided, bao stuffing and forming began. It had been so many years since Doña Cuevas and I had made these, that we'd forgotten how to do the fancy pleating of the wrappers. But we did the best we could. In the end, our guests were replete with bao.

Doña Cuevas stuffs chicken-shiitake bao

People's Regional Consolidated Bao Production Center
Esteemed buns, chicken shiitake. Take a bao.
Cha Siu Bao (roast pork stuffed buns).

Steamer baskets of hot bao go to the table.
G. Certain photo 
Guests get their wonton rations
Carnage, post comida.
G. Certain photo 
Ron's Sopa Fría de Mandarinas was a refreshing dessert
G. Certain photo 
I'd made some Chinese Almond Cookies.
G. Certain photo 
and some ginger snap cookies. G. Certain photo

It was a great experience, but one unlikely to be reprised in all of its complexity. I would make perhaps one dim sum dish, but not all.
Thanks to all who attended and participated.

(Promises, like bao, are often broken.)

I forgot to mention a Spicy Cucumber Salad I'd made. The recipe, in Virginia Lee's and Craig Claiborne's The Chinese Cookbook, was overly complicated, but I devised a simplified and very good version.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Parrilla y Canilla in Morelia's Heights

We have been dining at Parrilla y Canilla since July, 2012. Over the years, it has been very good. Parrilla y Canilla is arguably the best restaurant in Morelia, and continues so in our estimation despite an occasional, minor slip up. The cuisine is Uruguayan/Argentine/Italian. The restaurant's style is casually elegant.

Parrilla's new private dining room
Yesterday, after conducting some Heavy Shopping not far away, we joined our friend Jennifer for another meal at La Parrilla. Apart from restoring our red blood cells and relaxing after the sometimes arduous shopping, we were able to relax with a glass of wine and, for me, a very generously poured and potent Gin and Tonic.

The restaurant was surprisingly very busy for a Tuesday afternoon, but there were still a couple of umbrella shaded tables on the attractive terraza, with a view of the city below.

Table on the terraza
Our friend, Ms. Redshoes, had a glass of red wine, but I wanted something stronger: a Bombay Gin and Tonic. It was very gratifying. It was without a doubt the strongest, most generous drink I'd ever had in a restaurant.

We were brought a basket of house made breads. It was apparent that the quality of baking had greatly improved since our earliest visits three years ago. There were the usual little dishes of well made chimichurrí and salsa roja.

All three of us ordered appetizers. Sra. Cuevas and our amiga both got an Empanada de Carne. I saw a new dish on the menu, Lengua Nico Pérez. 

Empanada de carne
The empanadas were attractively browned and well filled. Accompanied by a salad, they could serve as a modest lunch. 

The tongue was presented as a sort of warm salad, in a delicious, light vinaigrette with minced parsley and egg. There were three moderately thick, tender slices, which together could have sufficed for my lunch. But I'd already ordered my second course.

Lengua Nico Pérez
Which was ...
Bife Rosso: A 400 gram Bife de Chorizo, on a bed of buttered linguini, generously topped with chunky sauteed mushrooms, with a wine reduction sauce on the side. Not a dish for light appetites, but I was able to make good progress on it. I took home a substantial piece. The linguini, simply dressed with butter, was notably good. I requested  a small dish of Queso Parmesano.

(The wine reduction was delicious, but murky. The kitchen should dedicate its efforts in clarifying sauces and Jugo de Carne. (The latter, a cloudy and wretched dish which I foolishly ordered on two previous occasions.)

Bife Rosso
Both Ms Shoes and Sra. Cuevas had their favorite cut, Vacio. It came with the Parrilla's signature Lechuga Orejona a la Parrilla.

Vacio and orejona a la parrilla
Our waiter recited a tempting list of desserts to us, but as we were already sated, so finished with coffee. I had an Espresso Doble. It was superior to most we've had in restaurants in Mexico.

The complimentary (purchased elsewhere) cookies were cute, but we skipped them. We were accustomed to homemade little polvorones.

The final tally was around $400 pesos per person, plus tip.

Food: *****

Service: *****

Ambience: Casual, upmarket

Cost: $$-$$$$ (Each $ represents approximately $1oo pesos per person.)

Restrooms: classy

Location and Contact info:
60 José Juan Tablada Morelia, MICH Mexico
Tel. (443) 3198352

Lunes a Sábado 1:30PM - 11:00PM
Domingos 12:30PM - 6:00PM