Recently I took myself on an indulgent 30th birthday food tour of Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur. Besides eating (and drinking) myself stupid, my trip involved learning how to cook local dishes properly – from a local, and of course from scratch.
I’d read about Martha Sherpa’s Cooking School and liked the idea of being taught by someone who took her food seriously and wasn’t going to pussyfoot around. That’s Martha!
I chose the Dim Sum Intensive (they’re not joking!) Course, Menu C as it seemed to have a nice selection of both fried, steamed and boiled dumplings.
The first dish we finished was boiled pork and vegetable dumpling in homemade spicy Szechuan style dipping sauce. It was smothered in a spicy red oil soy sauce, made from infused soy and chilli oil, which I looooved.
I’d never had dumplings like these before, and the sauce with Szechuan pickles was incredible – subtly fragranced with star anise and chilli. If I ever see this in a Sydney restaurant, I’m ordering two serves! If anyone knows where I can eat this let me know!
Next came Choy Yuk Bao: steamed buns with pork and Chinese chives.
Then, a new dumpling sensation, Sound Jean Bao: pan-fried pork buns with ginger and spring onion filling. The crispy bottom contrasts beautifully with the delicate, fluffy dough and fragrant juice inside.
My favourite, good old pork pot-stickers, came next. These were the easiest to make which was a happy surprise – I’ll actually make these at home!
Martha informed us that the black vinegar we are used to here isn’t what the Chinese use to accompany their potstickers. Instead, they serve theirs with lychee vinegar, a slightly more sweet yet refined taste.
Lastly, we made Siao Lung Bao (steamed mini dumplings stuffed with pork and soup) which have become very popular with the recent arrival of Din Tai Fung in Sydney. (Of course, I’ve loved them for years. I’m a foodie hipster.)
Here are mine – I’m so proud! Check out my perfect little nipple tops!
Soooo you probably want the recipes now, right? Well out of respect to Martha, I’ll send you the recipe for the filling and cooking of the dumplings if you email me. The dough, while best freshly made, is really only worth making yourself if you’re doing loads of them – otherwise just pop into your local Asian grocer.
Eight hours of hot, sweaty, labour-intensive beating rolling and throwing (no joke!) while Martha shouts “Wrong! Do again!” is exhausting so I don’t recommend it if you’re just off a plane of only have a couple of days in Honkers. But if you have some time before and after to relax and recuperate, you love your food and have some decent cooking skills already (so Martha doesn’t sigh and shake her head at you), I highly recommend a day or two at Martha’s!