I love dim sum. In the “before times” (as my friends refer to life before COVID-19), I didn’t actually go that often, maybe a handful of times during the year. And since COVID, I haven’t been at all, not even for take out. “The Nom Wah Cookbook: recipes and stories from 100 years at New York City’s iconic dim sum restaurant,” by Wilson Tang with Joshua David Stein, helps to fill the dumpling shaped void in my life.
I have not been to Nom Wah (but I’ve walked past it during my visit to NYC last year) so I can’t speak to the brick and mortar location. But I am having fun reading its cookbook. It’s a blend of traditional recipes, untraditional recipes, and an ode to the faces of NYC’s Chinatown. So far, this book is proving to be one of the very few cookbooks that I am interested enough to read through from start to finish. I’m not done yet, but I’m enjoying the stories that are included so far. (There’s even a story from Paul Eng/Fong On tofu store. You might recognize him from a Buzzfeed Tasty video published at the beginning of this year.)
The main chapters are:
- Chef’s Specials
Things I want to make:
- Mantao (with EBTB seasoning)
- House Special Roast Pork Buns
- Pork Master Filling
- Shrimp Master Filling
- Sweet Potato Kale Wontons
- OG Egg Rolls
- Turnip Cakes
- Taro Hash Cakes
- Sticky Rice with Chinese Sausage
- Garlic Eggplant Noodles
- Stuffed Eggplant
- Cantonese-styled Taro and Pork Belly Casserole
- Steamed Red Bean Buns
In terms of recipe testing, I was really limited with what I could make. The one day I made it to Hmart, it was really busy. There were a lot of customers which made it hard for me to keep the COVID 6 feet distance, some things were hard to find, some things were sold out. And there were lots of boxes around as employees tried to restock. Honestly, I found it very stressful.
But that’s ok! Because the recipe I ended up making was still one that I wanted to make. I made a half batch of the shiitake mushrooms and lettuce recipe. It was very simple to put together, just needed patience. You rehydrate your mushrooms, and make a braising liquid from garlic, ginger, chicken broth, oyster sauce, sugar, black pepper, and Shaoxing wine. It braises for an hour. You lightly boil some iceberg lettuce, and then you assemble.
Flavor-wise, I loved everything about this dish. (Although, I was admittedly a bit heavy handed on the black pepper. Ooops.) It definitely reminded me of the banquets my mom would force me to attend as a child. The only thing I can’t figure out… is why my dish looked nothing like the photo. lol! I know the photo has been stylized and enhanced, but my results were very dark and not nearly as glazed. I re-read the instructions three times as it was cooking to see if I had missed something, or gotten something wrong. I really couldn’t figure it out. But like I said, it was quite tasty so I don’t think I did anything wrong. It might be something as simple as the quality of ingredients were different.
If you’re in quarantine and missing dim sum as much as I am, go pick up this book! I just hope you have better luck getting ingredients than I did. There’s so much more I want to make. I might break down and try some substitutions and ingredient omissions. For now though, I guess I’ll just finish reading all the interviews and imagine that I’m hanging out in NYC.
Disclaimer – I kindly received a preview from Ecco (an imprint of Harpers Collins) for this review. I’m not getting paid for this post. The views and opinions expressed are purely my own.
With COVID-19 stats increasing again in Massachusetts, my shopping options were limited. I apologize that I could not recipe-test better.
(the Paul Eng Tasty video)