Steamed pork rib with black beans


There is not much I do not enjoy about the yum cha (dumpling) table.

Normally I would write a few more words to introduce a recipe.

Not today.

This Christmas thing makes a chef’s life too bloody busy 

A few things I consider to be essential at the dumpling table

Pieces o’ pork
That pork ready to hit the steamer
The sticky rice ready to be tucked in covered with its #cheflife ALSCO towel
Dish that up

Just like that

STEAMED PORK RIBS WITH BLACK BEANS, STICKY RICE AND A FEW OTHER DUMPLING HOUSE GOODIES

500g pork belly with or without rib, pork spare rib or St Louis cut pork ribs, cut into 2cm pieces (your butcher might do this if you are nice to him/her. Otherwise you may need a meat cleaver…)
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon Shaoxing (Chinese cooking wine)
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
2 clove garlic, peeled and smashed with the flat of a knife
½ onion, diced
1 long green chilli, deseeded and diced
½ red capsicum, diced
2 tablespoons Chinese black beans
2 cups glutinous white rice, soaked for a day or overnight in 1lt of water
1 bunch choy sum
A splash of oyster sauce
Assorted store-bought dumplings
Sriracha, soy sauce and/or whatever it is you like to dunk your dumplings into, to serve

Combine sugar, Shaoxing, soy sauce, sesame oil, pepper and garlic. Mix through pork ribs to marinate. Set aside overnight or at least one hour to do its thing.
Add onion, chilli, capsicum and black beans, and transfer to a bowl that will fit in your steamer basket.

Set up steamer in the usual fashion – simmering water in the bottom, and then the layers with the holes in them go over that (dumplings, vegetables, rice and steamed pork go on these levels), and then the lid looking thing goes on top of them.

Line the bottom level of your steamer with a towel, add strained rice and then wrap extra cloth over the top like you were tucking the rice into bed. Now you should say goodnight to the rice. Place steamer basket over simmering water.
Place bowl with pork ribs into top basket. Place onto steamer and cover with lid.
Steam for 25 minutes or until rice and pork is fully cooked.
Remove rice and pork from steamer. Cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.

Line bottom steamer basket with baking paper. Place dumplings in basket, ensuring there is ½ cm between each dumpling so they don’t stick together. Place over simmering water.
Place choy sum on a dish that will fit in steamer basket and drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons oyster sauce. Place steamer basket over dumplings and then cover with lid. Steam choy sum and dumplings for 6-8 minutes or whatever the instructions on the packaging of the dumplings might tell you.

Get it all on the table now.
Now is the time to eat it.
Place your chosen morsel into the big hole in your face, chew it a little or a lot and then swallow.
You are now eating.
Thumbs up.

Stir fried water spinach and store bought dumplings for #easytastygood dinner


Oft times when it is really warm out I don’t do much.

I might sit in the pool for a bit, tighten a screw or oil a hinge (not a euphemism) and maybe watch a show, but that’s pretty much it.

I can’t even be bothered to write very much words.

I just cannot be assed.

But let’s face it; I’ve still gotta eat. Me going a day without food is like a Quentin Tarantino film without Samuel L. in it – highly fucking unlikely.

So, when it inevitably comes time to prepare our evening meal on said days I like to stay in character and stick with the whole “not doing much” theme.

This dinner is classic “not doing much”; store bought dumplings and sauces steamed and served with a really quick stir-fried water spinach number.

Piss easy enough for even you to not work up a sweat on a day like today.

Water spinach AKA morning glory, AKA kang kong, is one of my favourite things to put in a hot wok. It is quite simply just some tasty tasty shit. When we were in Vietnam and Laos it was sold as “morning glory” and was available at just about every restaurant and roadside stall we came across. Now I have a little trouble admitting this but I loved it. There you go. Never once in my wildest dreams did I imagine that one day I would be admitting to the world that someone’s morning glory was one of my favourite things ever to put in my mouth… but it was.

This shit is damn well addictive. Even if you don’t like greens just try this… at the very least it might give a little life to your pasty little poster-boy-for-serving-fruit-and-vegetables-in-the-school-canteen demeanor and maybe get a little blood flowing down stairs so that poor little thing can get a little rigid again.

Eat it.

I’m out.

The ubiquitous "before" shot
The ubiquitous “before” shot
Get it on the table
Get it on the table
One more quick look before totally destroying it
One more quick look before totally destroying it
A better view of the water spinach number. Pretty sexy shit, eh
A better view of the water spinach number. Pretty sexy shit, eh

STIR FRIED WATER SPINACH WITH OYSTER SAUCE, GARLIC AND SOY (serves 4 as a side)

1 large bunch water spinach (this shit will wilt down a fair bit), sliced into 4-5cm pieces
2 spring onions/shallots, sliced into 2cm lengths
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed with the flat edge of a knife
½ tablespoon each oyster sauce and light soy sauce
vegetable oil for frying

• Add a splash of oil to a wok or decent sized pan and get it plenty hot
• Add the water spinach, spring onions and garlic and toss for a minute
• Add the sauces and toss for another minute
• Have a little taste to check for seasoning, add a little more soy if you need some more salty
• Put it on the table with a few steamed dumplings, those sticky rice and pork parcels wrapped up in banana leaves (possibly one of the sexiest of items on the dim sum trolley… the banana leaf , once gently and seductively pulled aside, reveals a sticky, soft, yielding mound of ricey porky goodness… dear good lord I’m getting myself excited…) and a heap of condiments; sriracha chilli sauce is a good start, soy sauce, chilli in soy bean oil, kimchi, something else that you can’t read the label of but grabbed anyway, etc. you get the idea.
• Go fourth, eat water spinach and dumplings and be happy

A close up of the glutinous rice and pork in banana leaf porn
A close up of the glutinous rice and pork in banana leaf porn

Robina Yum Cha and the continuation of Jennee’s Birthday

Anyone who knows me, or thinks they know me, or follows my life through the misty little second story bathroom window that is this blog, will know two things. That I am a fan of the yum cha, and that one day of birthday celebrations is never enough. There are yet undiscovered tribes of pygmies in the amazon that received the memo regarding these points. Catch up quickly would you.

So the obvious combo, considering yesterday was Jennee’s birthday, would be me, Jennee and another lady of her choosing have a special little party of our own… the second most obvious combo was to piggy back a trip to yum cha into Jennees birthday celebrations. So, as you could well imagine, we got our asses up the coast and indulged our faces a feast of tasty dumpling-y treats. And maybe a little peek at some cute Asian girls…

They have tables and chairs
They have tables and chairs
Start with some salt and pepper squid tenticles and a nice clean table
Start with some salt and pepper squid tenticles and a nice clean table
Two essentials; soy sauce and saricha hot chilli
Two essentials; soy sauce and sraricha hot chilli
Pork and prawn dumplings
Pork and prawn dumplings
Crisp honey chicken for the boys... but truth be known, I probably ate most of it
Crisp honey chicken for the boys… but truth be known, I probably ate most of it

For me yum cha, and a lot of eating in general, seems to follow a bit of a porky motif. This in mind, it is probably no surprise (even with your 1st gear brain) that items such as steamed pork and prawn dumplings, pork buns, braised pork ribs and fried pork dumplings (these were so damn fine I got a second serve) featured very heavily on my own personally designed 12 course degustation menu, not lacking in anything I needed to make my dining experience complete; sriracha hot sauce, soy sauce, steamed rice and plenty of jasmine tea. Just jasmine tea. Leave the beer to the crew who aren’t in the know because for every beer you drink you will be denying yourself two dumplings at the very least and that is just a silly mans game. And, if you really want the crew to think you’re a yum cha pro, when your teapot is empty turn the lid upside down. Immediately one of the hundred staff will appear at your side with a new pot, or possibly a cheap hospital-tea-lady top up out of a large aluminium pot in a less reputable joint. But you will have more tea.

Braised pork ribs with black beans
Braised pork ribs with black beans
Fried pork dumplings
Fried pork dumplings
Crisp squid rings
Crisp squid rings
Prawn dumplings, pork dumplingd and steamed pork buns
Prawn dumplings, pork dumplings and steamed pork buns
The bill. I seriously have no idea what that says. It might say "charge the stupid round eye like a wounded bull" and I am going to give them my money with a full belly and a smile on my face
The bill. I seriously have no idea what that says. It might say “charge the stupid round eye like a wounded bull” and I am going to give them my money with a full belly, a smile on my face and say thank you

I have a theory (here we go…) that all yum cha restaurants follow a basic set of rules or guidelines put in place and policed by an organization that is quite probably called “the International Bureau for the Standardisation and Quality Control of the World Dumpling Industry”, or possibly fondly referred to by the acronym TIBFTSAQCOTWDI… Robina Yum Cha had been given the brief and certainly followed the 6 basic guidelines set out by TIBFTSAQCOTWDI;

  1. Dumplings, sriracha, soy and rice
  2. A lot of staff, all whom are clearly of Asian descent and speak in thick accents, always experiencing a little difficulty in deciphering if you want braised pork ribs or fried pork dumplings, causing havoc for the table of fat yobbo Australians behind us. Yeah, the guys who are eating with their hands. And also for the clearly Gold Coast mum trying to hold a phone conversation and order at the same time on the table next to us, but for me… I am in love.
  3. Dockets written in some kind of Chinese looking dialect.
  4. Paper tablecloth protectors.
  5. Tables and chairs that are not quite big enough for a tall white man.
  6. And there is jasmine tea flowing like the golden shower in the alley out back… damn that CCTV!

But this place didn’t quite tow the line like others before it. The staff were a little happier and had time for a little chat and a laugh. There was none of the get in, eat and then scurry out to make room for the next lot of diners. It saw nary a man nor woman carrying a stack of bowls twice the size of his or her own body, nor with the ability to reset a table of seven place settings, with only the flick of a tablecloth a la David Copperfield. The food on the trolly was fresh, definitely the freshest of any of the yum cha we have been to in the area. This place rocked. They rocked a cracking balance of enough food to feed the punters, enough choice, freshness, staff per customer and Pop Asia chic.

Defo worth a trip if you’re in the area… but maybe not a “hire a personal jet and go there for lunch from the other side of the country” type thing. Although Jennee disagreed with that last comment and thinks it is well worth the hire of a personal jet to eat there.

Go there and get your dumpling on!

Robina Yum Cha

Click here for their facey page

Foodisthebestshitever on the road again

Through a bizarre chain of events I once again find myself in the great state of Western Australia, home of the bumper sticker that specifies “there’s only two states to be in, WA and pissed” (I thought I should be able to achieve both). Please allow me to elaborate embellish;

I got on a television box called “the interweb super highway”, purchased a ticket to ride on an “aero plane” (a magical craft that allows you to fly with the birds) with a seemingly random sequence of numbers, apparently known as a “credit card”. AMAZING. Gone are the days of strapping six carnies together and having them carry you to your destination in a large cast iron box. CRAZY.

Landing safely in WA I handed over a wad of local currency (Lima beans I think) in exchange for a “hire car”… Once again AMAZING. And still not a carnie in sight. A lot has changed around here, that’s for sure.

The “hire car” found me quickly transported to my good friend/chef/mentor/fellow foodisthebestshitever blogger Paul’s home.

A quick Grey Goose, nachos with feta, scorched mozzarella, tomato and Vegemite guacamole (yeah, crazy kid) and several beers later Paul informed me that we were having a cooking challenge that evening. The guests (Graham, Carla, English DJ Deekline, my good friend Richy and Lauren, Paul’s lady friend) would be arriving in a couple of hours so we should probably get cooking before we got too pissed. I was pretty sure we’d already gone past the point of being “not too pissed” but cook we shall. On to the kitchen!

Paul had set the challenge. We would both choose five ingredients with which the other would make his dish. He also thought he would save me some time by choosing three of his ingredients for me. Nice guy that Paul fellow. So, fair or not, the cook up was going down!

The ingredients

Grazza McFilthy Mouth; Atlantic salmon, quinoa, avocado, beetroot and truffle pearls.

Paul; black pudding, cauliflower, polenta, dried shrimp sambal and capers

I offered up Atlantic salmon tartare with mixed grains, avocado, goats feta, truffle pearls and crisp beetroot, beetroot and jalepenos vinaigrette.

Paul produced a cracking dish of black pudding, cauliflower and chilli shrimp fritters, Marsala polenta and caper cream.

Our guests were satiated. Now it was time for me to sleep.

The next morning I was woken by my boys asking if they could play with Lauren’s cat, which they had discovered during the night (obviously the cat was smart enough to stay away during the day when it saw the kids arrive, but still to dumb to realise kids don’t sleep). As it was 4am and still quite dark outside, I suggested they may want to go back to bed and get some more sleep, or just lay there, or sit there, or talk quietly amongst themselves, or practice yoga, or whatever. Just as long as it didn’t involve me… Or the cat… Or a naked flame. Well maybe just keep me out of it.

Soon enough we were all awake and breakfast, or second breakfast, or elevensies (yes, I think my children may have hobbit in their bloodline. If only for their eating habits… That and their amazing digging skills) was the call. It would be Yum Cha and what a damn good call that was. All the good stuff came to our table via a small Asian woman pushing the “trolley of dreams”; braised chickens feet, shanghai dumplings, fried squid tentecles, kai lan with oyster sauce, prawn dumplings, pork dumplings, braised pork ribs, sticky rice in lotus leaf and steamed pork buns. EFF YES!

I think the highlights were Seba smashing the chicken feet and Obi describing his favourite meal as a mixture of things including a light bulb. The kid is a cullinary genius!

So that’s it. Day one; done. Day two; done. Time for a little bit more doingeffallisthebestshitever…

20130122-122010.jpg

20130122-122045.jpg

20130122-122053.jpg

20130122-122101.jpg

Yum cha in Melbourne

A cold breeze blows in on old Melbourne town. I think it must come from the south pole but I base this assumption on nothing more than just what I reckon.

We disembarked our aircraft, and then immediately headed to China Town (or whatever they call the Asian precinct down here) to fill our bellies with the delicacy collectively known to us white-ish coloured folk as yum cha.

The yum cha met all of the necessary requirements to satisfy the international yum cha moderation committee. Maitre de in a 38 dollar suit shouting instructions to any one who puts their head through the door. Random seafood in fishtanks near the counter. Wait staff speaking only broken English. A high percent of clientele indigenous to yum cha land.
Doilys under the prawn toasts. And of course, the ubiquitous yum cha cart.

Oh, and all of my yum cha faves. Calamari tenticles, sui mai, pork and tripe dumplings, steamed rice paper rolls, steamed pork buns, chicken feet, pork spare rib, scallop dumpling, spring rolls… the list goes on and on.

So needless to say we ate. And if you haven’t been, you should to.

20120815-151640.jpg