Do you do Dim Sum Chinese restaurants? I’ve made the shift myself. Why not? I found I was eating so many “appetizers” at my local Chinese spots, that I had no appetite left for the “main courses.” Dim Sum in Chinese tapas and I’m in love with it.

For 20 years, Charles Phan’s The Slanted Door has spotlighted modern Vietnamese cuisine with élan and boldness. I reviewed the book earlier. Here is a favorite recipe from the restaurant. You can make this at home — make it ahead and then reheat even — and have a smashing appetizer for your next dinner party.

The filling is chives, shrimp, water chestnuts, and scallions. Classic ingredients forming a classic recipe.


Chive Cakes

Yield: 30 1½-inch cakes, serving 10 [or less!]

Ingredients:

Filling:

  • 1 pound Chinese chives, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • ½ tablespoon minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup dried shrimp, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes, drained and finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 cup diced, peeled, cooked water chestnut
  • ½ cup chopped green onions white and light green parts only
  • ½ teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • ¾ pound shrimp, peeled, deveined, and coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon lard
  • ½ tablespoon tapioca starch

Dough:

  • 2 cups wheat starch
  • 1 cup tapioca starch
  • 1 ½ tablespoons potato starch
  • ½ tablespoon sugar
  • ¾ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 cups boiling water

Dipping Sauce:

  • 2 cups wheat starch
  • ¼ cup Sriracha sauce
  • ¼ cup light soy sauce

Preparation:

Stir-fry the chives with garlic and salt until the chives are soft. In a medium sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and stir until it turns light brown in color, add chives and salt, stir until chives are soft. Place chives on the center of a large piece of cheesecloth, wrap up the cloth, and squeeze the mixture until there is no liquid. Set aside.

In a skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm the remaining 1 tablespoon canola oil until shimmering. Add the chopped dry shrimp and stir until the shrimp starts to turn brown. Add V2 teaspoon of the sugar and V2 tablespoon of the fish sauce and stir until well combined. Add the water chestnuts and green onions. Cook, stirring, for about 1 minute; do not overcook. Add Vi teaspoon of the white pepper and stir to combine. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the sesame oil, fresh shrimp, lard, tapioca starch, and the remaining white pepper, sugar, and fish sauce, and mix well. Add the chives and dried shrimp mixture. Mix well, and set aside.

To make the dough, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine all the starches, sugar, salt, and oil. Mix on low speed, slowly adding the hot water until a sticky dough forms, then turn mixer to high speed and mix for about 5 minutes.

Dust a flat work surface with flour. Turn the dough out onto your work surface. Make small balls about 1 inch in diameter. Using a small rolling pin, roll out the ball into circles about ⅛-inch thick and 3 inches in diameter. Holding the dough in your palm, add about 2 tablespoons of filling in the middle of each circle and pinch the ends together. Lightly pat down to flatten the cake. Place the chive cake on an oiled 3 by 3-inch square of parchment paper. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.

Set up a steamer and steam the chive cakes until the dough is translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Just before serving, coat the bottom of a skillet with oil and panfry the chive cakes until browned on both sides. Serve with both Sriracha and soy sauce for dipping.


Source: The Slanted Table by Charles Phan [10 Speed Press, 2014]