Adventures in Dim Sum: Project Bean Curd Rolls

I love dim sum. I know I’ve mentioned that before in my posts about making Chinese dumplings and scallion pancakes. I love dim sum to the point where I bring my own Tupperware for my leftovers because I am serious about leaving no dumpling behind. I also tend to order as if I am eating with a very hungry army instead of with just one or two friends. I have also been known to hide the leftovers so my husband can’t find them. Please don’t judge me for that.

One of my all-time favorite must-eat items at dim sum are the bean curd or tofu skin rolls (also known as fu tse juan). The first time I tried them, I had no idea what they were made of, which is always a little nerve-wracking. There are so many things that can either be amazing or unfortunate at dim sum, and you really have to choose wisely. My experience eating congee with fermented eggs is not one I’d like to repeat.

But my friend Ariel, who is experienced at dim sum dining, gave me her word that I would like them. And I did…a lot. So much so that we immediately ordered another serving lest things come to blows over who got the third roll. (Why does food always have to come in threes when you’re part of a pair?)

First off, I should tell you a bit about these things in case you’re as confused as I admittedly was by the layman’s term “bean curd roll.” I originally thought these had bean curd in them and was so perplexed at why they tasted like mushrooms and pork instead of tofu. Luckily Ariel was there to explain that the wrapper is actually made of pressed tofu. It’s much easier to enjoy something when you know what it’s made of!

Now that I am also a dim sum regular, it’s hard to imagine that these glorious things could have caused me even one moment of anxiety.

Ok, sure maybe they don’t look as appealing as perfectly crimped dumplings or as pert as little steamed shu mei, but trust me. These things are made of magic. My first line of evidence in this fact is that they are stuffed primarily with mushrooms — an ingredient I usually despise. And yet, I can down an almost embarrassing number of them.

Anyways, the concept of these rolls intrigued me and I think I spent oh, about a year, gawking at recipes online, dreaming about making my own. In all my searching, this recipe is the best one I found (and I love the blog in general), so it was the one I used when I finally got around to making them.

Bean curd skins

Which was last weekend — hooray!

I invited my partner-in-crime DB to come over for a little dim sum extravaganza. First we went shopping for the tofu skins and after scouring H-Mart, we finally found them in the freezer aisle. Be warned — these suckers are huge. I mean, really, look at these things!

That mission accomplished, we moved on to the rest of the ingredients. One of the best things about this dish is that it’s pretty simplistic. Pork, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, bean curd. The writer of the recipe didn’t clarify what type of pork to use, so I figured one pound of pork tenderloin would be a good choice. Next we grabbed an 8 oz can of bamboo shoots and some mushrooms. We decided to go light on the mushroom flavor so we just used shiitakes and none of the dried Chinese mushrooms. In hindsight, I think I’d maybe lessen the bamboo shoots a smidgen and add more mushrooms. I can’t even believe I wrote that — as a life-long dedicated mushroom hater, my parents would die if they heard me say that out loud!

Pork tenderloin, sliced bamboo shoots and shiitake mushrooms

Anyways, slice the mushrooms, bamboo and the pork into strips. Mix some cornstarch, soy and wine in a small bowl with the meat and give it a good toss. Then sauté everything up together until the mushrooms are tender and the pork is just cooked through.

We also added generous squirts of my favorite chili oil, salt and pepper. Next time I might go against tradition and add in some garlic, ginger and maybe some chopped green onions just because. The flavors were good, but it was just a touch bland, though the chili oil helped perk things up tremendously.

Then it’s bean curd time. Cut the skins into strips — they will be a little brittle, so be gentle. Since mine were circular, we trimmed them into rectangles, as instructed in the recipe (though I really don’t know if that’s necessary in the long run). At any rate, each circle made four rolls. You want them fairly long because it’s as much about the wrapper as it is about the filling. Soak them for a second or two in hot water until they are pliable.

Now it’s on to wrapping! (More pictures of this process in the gallery below)

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‘Cause there ain’t no party like a Chinese dumpling party…


This gallery contains 27 photos.

I love Chinese dumplings — like really really love them. From their crisp yet soft exterior to the meat-and-shrimp filled goodness inside, they are the perfect food. So it’s incredibly exciting to me that I recently learned how to make … Continue reading

Scallion Pancake Dreams

Scallion Pancake Perfection!

My love affair with the scallion pancake has been intense. And for good reason — they are crispy, salty, flaky and pretty much the best thing that dim sum has to offer, which is saying a lot. I was lucky enough to discover these by accident, and now I can honestly say I’m addicted.

What’s the next step then if you’re looking to avoid the hour-long wait to get into Wong’s King? Try to make them yourself. Although, like many things, it’s best to enlist a friend help you.

About couple months ago, my partner-in-crime DB and I decided to give it a go. We emailed various recipes back and forth, trying to find one that seemed to have the clearest instructions, the best reviews, and to be honest, the prettiest pictures. We settled on this one.

It was so easy. Almost disgustingly, tragically easy. I say tragically because I think about all the time wasted in the lobby waiting for a table at dim sum when I could have been making these delicious things at home the whole time. I also think of all the time wasted trying to order them from the waiters at dim sum who pretend they have no idea what I’m talking about. They ask “Green onion pancake?” with a serious side eye and a look of bewilderment.

You bet your ass green onion pancakes! I know you make them here — I’ve eaten them, don’t try to feign ignorance and pretend like I’m crazy! After much cajoling, they finally seem to catch on that I’m not going to let it slide. I will not eat dim sum without the scallion pancake. “Oh green onion pancake,” they say suddenly and scurry from the table before I have a chance to order more than my usual three.

Anyways…I digress. The point is now that I know how easy they are to make! The ingredients list is laughably short: hot water, flour, green onions, sesame oil, regular oil (and we added bacon grease) for frying.

I’d take you through the steps but the serious eats site gives very detailed directions that no one could mess up. I mean we drank a lot of beer and still managed to do just fine. The only thing I would do differently would be to add salt with the green onions prior to frying. There’s no salt in the dough so it can taste a little flat. Or, do as I do at dim sum, and dredge that sucker in soy sauce with a dash of chili oil.