Book Review: “Hong Kong Dim Sum 60” by Various Authors

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The cover of “Hong Kong Dim Sum 60.”

This book review is going to be woefully short on text, since I don’t read or speak a lick of Chinese. I’ll try to make up for it with pictures. I found “Hong Kong Dim Sum 60” while I was browsing through Kingstone Bookstore inside Richmond’s Pacific East Mall (perhaps better known as the “99 Ranch Mall” by some). This cookbook was a serendipitous discovery — as many times as I’ve visited the Pacific East Mall, I had never before recognized Kingstone as a bookstore. Honestly, this little shop is surrounded with so many Hello Kitty knickknacks that it’s easy to overlook the main book section in the center.

Recently published in Hong Kong, “Hong Kong Dim Sum 60” is a beautiful paperback collection of 60 dim sum photos, food created by Hong Kong’s most revered dim sum chefs. Of course, I’m just assuming that last part. “Hong Kong Dim Sum 60” is written completely in Chinese, so for me, it’s merely a picture book, albeit one that captures my imagination. However, I can tell that most of the chefs featured in the book (about two dozen in all) appear to be over 40 or 50, and a few of them are easily 60. They are also all male, except for one. I suspect that for the most part, these chefs represent the old masters, and not just because of their age, but because their food looks exquisite. This is hardcore food pornography.

If you know anything about this book, or if you can translate the bits of text that appear in some of these photos, please drop me a line in the comments section below. Here are a few book scans to enjoy:

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The swans on the cover make another appearance in this photo, but the dim sum in the foreground is even more interesting. The centers have an amazing texture, created by the process depicted in the inset photos at the top (many of the dishes in this book have these accompanying step-by-step photos: some are inset, like this one, and some are on separate pages).  Not sure what the flavors are, though.

• • •

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By the photos that accompany this dish, I know that these are little stacks of hand-pulled noodles, which surround what looks like chopped peanuts. You’ll notice that these noodles are impossibly thin, filaments really, and there looks to be thousands of them in each cluster. It requires sheer badassery to produce something this delicate. I can’t imagine what the texture is like, but I suspect that it’s completely unique.

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These are tiny little tea cookies that are carved from balls of dough before they’re baked. The design is truly next level. A phenomenal level of detail.

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This dim sum recreates the strawberry in an abscract and clever way. I suspect that the seeds in the dim sum strawberry may actually be hydrated basil seeds, but again, I can only speculate. I assume these are set with gelatin, like a strawberry gelee over a stiff panna cotta.

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Here, a tiny crab claw, which serves as a handle, emerges from a beautifully constructed pastry. I’ve had a similar dish, where the crab meat is coated with panko and fried. These have obviously been baked in a small fluted cup.

• • •

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Shrimp tails emerge from a wonton wrapper, perhaps filled with shrimp mousse? I’m impressed by how thin the garnish has been cut. The chef obviously has an amazingly sharp knife.

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