Nostalgic Cantonese flavors not forgotten
2011-November-3 Source:
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Chef Chen Xun demonstrates making dim sums

As part of traditional culture in the Canton region, "drinking tea" or Yum Cha is the habit of tasting delicacies and tea in a teahouse or restaurant. People usually drink tea in the morning, afternoon or at night, with pastries or dim sum. It is also a very good gathering for friends, acquaintances and family.

The places serving tea and dim sum vary in price and quality of food. Now a number of restaurants and hotels serve Cantonese dim sum, normally called modern style dim sum. In November, the White Swan Hotel on the historical Shamian Island will present some old-time dim sum that most of the younger locals have never seen. The hotel has invited 87-year-old Chef Chen Xun to supervise these delicacies in the upcoming "Nostalgic Cantonese Dim Sum Festival."

Chef Chen Xun was once the youngest dim sum head chef when he ran the old Guangzhou Liuguo Restaurant in the 1940s. Chen learned cooking at the age of 14 and became the supervisor of the dim sum department in his early 20s. Every week, the restaurant changed its dim sum menu to attract the patronage of gourmands. Chen has kept those dim sum recipes and instructed the cooks of the White Swan Hotel with enthusiasm.

What are the distinctions of the dim sum from the 2010s and 1940s? The master said, ingredients of traditional dim sum were inextricably linked to the seasons. Fresh bamboo shoot in spring, night fragrant flower and phoenix eye nut in summer, cucumber in spring and mushroom in winter, were all made in dim sum. Additionally, the appearance of dim sum is much more complex than normal dishes on the table. In the past, we usually made enough to only serve twenty guests per day. As the times go by, we have simplified the preparation methods and can serve more non-seasonal dim sum. Also, we now have more choices in condiments.

A soup with two stuffed dumplings

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Editor: Miranda
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