The Bait Layer
Thu, 23 Jun 2016
Channelling William Wing Young and his Dim Sim
In 1945 William Wing Young, of Wing Lee Restaurant fame, created one of Melbourne's all time classic food icons, the humble Dim Sim.
He was a Chinese Restauranteur and he modified dumpling recipes, which he was familiar, in order to create a large snack item suitable for mid-late 1940's Australian palates, which later became the basis of the now regionally famous, South Melbourne Market Dim Sim, a roundish parcel of meat & veg wrapped in a dough shell.
This blog builds on my previous research and original work on the Marathon Dim Sim and aims to leverage that knowledge to channel a recipe for William Wing Young's original Dim Sim Recipe.
Now, according to reports, his daughter, Elizabeth Cheong, revealed that the original recipe included: pork, prawns, water chestnuts, spring onions, and soy sauce, and her father was the first to create a commercial product.
Another, similar recipe, from The Australian Womens Weekly, was published a recipe here (2008) which included:
1lb minced pork, 8oz prawns (finely chopped) reserve 8 for decoration, 1/4 cabbage (finely shredded), 1 egg, 2 tablespoons cornflour, 6 shallots, 2 teaspoons soy sauce, 2 teaspoons sesame oil, 8oz wonton wrappers.
Next, many recipes for "Sui Mai," from which the Dim Sim aledgedly spung, typically have ratios for,
pork : prawns : water-chestnuts, varying from 1 : 1 : 1/2 to 2 : 1 : 1 or 2 : 1 : 1/2 etc.
Now, Australians do like prawns, but prawns are expensive, and water chestnuts, while tasty, well what can I say? "Not too much crunch, please."
So, channeling the Restauranter tells me that 2: 1 : 1/2 is a good ratio. Lets go with that.
Now, from my blog, we get the following ingredient percentages for a commercial style Dim Sim:
Vegetable 23.67%, Wheat Flour 20.83%, Meat 23.00%, Water 21.23%, Thickener 7.69%, Salt 0.87%, 0.445 g Onion Powder 0.86%, Sugar 0.85%, MSG 0.60%, White Pepper 0.40%.
Tweeking the figures a little, and saving you from all the math, we get the following ingredient percentages:
Wheat Flour 23.81%, Pork 23.00%, Spring Onions 18.77%, Water 18.09%, Prawns 11.50%, Water Chestnuts 5.75%, Corn Flour 3.73%, MSG 0.6%, Shaoxing Wine 0.25%, Soy Sauce 0.25%.
So, our Recipe, for 9 Original Recipe* Dim Sims is: (drum roll ...)
Dim Sims ala William Wing Young (well, in the spirit of...)
260 g All Purpose Flour
220ml Water (145ml hot + 75ml cold)
200g Spring Onions
125g Prawns or Shrimp
62g Water Chestnuts
5 Tbs Corn Flour
1/2 tsp MSG
1/2 tsp Shaoxing Wine
1/2 tsp Light Soy Sauce
- combine all purpose flour with 145ml of hot water and mix to form a dough
- knead lightly until smooth then set aside to rest for 30min - 1 hr. Cover with cling film
- twice fine mince the pork
- fine mince the water chestnuts and spring onions
- coarse mince the prawns
- mix all minced ingredients together
- blend corn flour with 75 ml cold water and add to mince mixture
- season mince mixture with msg, shaoshing wine and soy sauce
- mix together evenly and very well
- portion dough into 9 equal peices (approx. 45g each portion)
- roll dough portion out into a circle, place 75g of filling in the center and wrap the filling
- repeat until all dumlings have been made
- these are best prepared by deep frying, fry until golden brown all over
Makes approx. 9 x 120g Dim Sims
*Well, it is an original recipe, a recipe which originates from me
Fresh Dim Sims can be frozen and cooked by deep frying, later. There is no need to defrost them first.
So, there you have it, the Bait Layer's take on, William Wing Young's original Dim Sims.
That's all from the Bait Layer today,
Get that in 't ya!
Wed, 22 Jun 2016
Australian Dim Sims, A Cultural Icon
(I've previously had a rant on this topic, here. This article will not attempt to repeat what's previously been said, but to update the current information available with my latest research.)
To many of us Expats around the world, there's nothing quite like that Australian cultural food Classic, the Dim Sim. It is an adaption of a Chinese "Dim Sum" staple the, Pork and Cabbage Jiaozi and similar dim sum snacks. These were adapted for Melbourne tastes by a well known Chinese Restauranteur. At some point it morphed into the ever popular South Melbourne market Dim Sim, which was kinda the "Gold Standard" for many, many years until, as with all things, the business changed hands and new hands thought they knew better.
Somewhere also along the way, a commercial version was developed and popularized through Chinese Restaurants around the country, Fish and Chip Shops, Service Stations, etc. Today, the best known commercial variety is manufactured by Marathon Foods, and its main rival would appear to be Simplot Foodservice's Chiko Dimmy.
As an Expat with fond memories of buying Marathon Dim Sims at the local fish shop, across the road from my Primary School, in the 70's I have a lifelong, lingering fondness for these, "Mystery Bags" so much so that I've spent many years researching them to try and produce a useful home recipe that is very true to the original.
These days, such endeavours seem to be of growing importance with, changes in lifestyle leading to large manufacturers making commercial decisions that may lead to the extinction of such cultural heritage, along with an unwillingness to release the recipe lest some competitor at a later stage decide to bring them back.
Now, here this! This is the latest recipe recomendations for the commercial versions of the Aussie Dim Sim, with percentages based on what both Marathon & Simplot have revealed as well as best guess based on Australian Food Labeling guidelines and a home cook's eye for weights and measures (a pinch here, a dash there.)
Marathon Dim Sim (The Breakdown)
12.31 g (Sweet) Cabbage 23.67%
10.83 g Wheat Flour 20.83%
11.96 g Minced Beef or Mutton 23.00%
09.40 g Water 21.23%
02.00 g Wheat Starch 7.69% (1 tsp)
0.450 g Salt 0.87% (1/16 tsp)
0.445 g Onion Powder 0.86% (1/16 tsp)
0.440 g Sugar 0.85% (1/16 tsp)
0.310 g MSG 0.60% (1/16 tsp)
0.290 g White Pepper 0.40% (1/8 tsp)
Total = 52 g. Makes 1 Dim Sim. Approx Size : L60mm x Dia35mm
260g Wheat Flour 64.20%
158 g Hot Water 35.80%
Makes approx. 21 x 19.24g Wrappers, 134mm x 134mm square (190mm diagonal)
* Ingredients for 1 wrapper are included in the above Dim Sim percentages
- The four sides are pleated inwards around the filling with the corners folding over the top to meet in the middle, forming their characteristic shape.
- once made they can be frozen or prepared fresh. Preparation typically involves steaming or deep frying. Although, some people have been known to bake them. (Dunno why...)
- Filling texture: prep the meat, seasonings and thickener (starch) and water, into a fine paste. The usual texture is like a fiem, smooth pate, interspersed with fine pieces of cabbage, very smal diced onion, and occasional bits of meat gristle, once cooked.
To the best of my knowledge, this is it, the Definitive breakdown of this classic Aussie food Icon, the Marathon Dim Sim!
Scaling it up into a functional home recipe.
The Bait Layer's Classic Aussie Dim Sims
Ingredients (rough measures)
300 g Sweet Cabbage
260 g All Purpose Flour
250 g Minced Meat (Beef, Lamb, Chicken, Turkey, Pork, and/or Prawns)
200 g Water
1/4 cup Wheat Starch (or thickener stubstitute)
1 1/4 tsp Table Salt
1 1/4 tsp Onion Powder (or 100g shredded fresh onion substitute)
1 1/4 tsp Table Sugar
1 1/4 tsp MSG (optional, if you wish but it does have an impact on flavour)
2 1/5 tsp White Pepper (more punchy when fresh ground)
- take 1 3/4 cups of the water and heat it to a good simmer
- gradually add the hot water to the 260g of all purpose flour and form a dough
- lightly kneed until smooth and set aside wrapped in cling wrap to rest for 30min to 1 hour, min.
- using a pasta dough sheeter, or rolling pin, roll the dough out to approx. 2mm thick then cut the sheet into approx. 13.5 cm squares. Each square should weigh around 19-20 grams.
- Shred cabbage leaves very fine
- if using fresh onion substitute, shread this also very fine
- if adding prawns to the meat, dice the prawns very fine and add to meat after the meat has been processed
- mince the meat into a fine paste with all the reamining ingredients (ommit prawns at this stage) it is important for the texture to turn the meat into more or less a paste.
- add to the paste the cabbage; the fresh onion and diced prawns (if you're using them) and mix well together
3. Dim Sims
- using a 60ml shot glass with tapered sides as a support, pleat the edges of a square of wrapper so the four sides come together and drop the bottom of the wrapper into the glass, allowing the corners to drape out and over the top of the glass.
- progressively add filling and drift the dim sim further into the shot glass until the wrapper is full.
- Fold the corners into the middle over the filling and eject the completed dim sim from the glass.
- set the dim sim aside on a clean plate or rack and repeat the process for the rest of the filling and wrappers.
At this point, the dim sims can be frozen or cookled. They can also be cooked from frozen without defrosting. They are best cooked by steaming or deep frying.
4. To Cook
- (Steaming) Place dim sims in a steamer basket and steam for 15-20 minutes. Serve with soy sauce
- (Deep frying) carefull place dim sims into hot oil and fry for 5-7 minutes or until golden brown. Dark brown is over cooked! Servie with soy sauce.
From this base, knock yourself out! Modify the recipe to suit yourself.
Add some diced prawns to the meat, sub in scallions, ginger, garlic, shaoxing wine, and/or soy sauce. Add a pinch of Chinese 5 Spice or Sechuan Flower Pepper, or some fermented bean paste.
The worlds your oyster. You can make this with anything you like, but keep in mind the ratios of meat to veg and you should be fine. Turn the cuisine of any nation, into a flavourful Dim Sim, and there you have it, my difintive version of the humble, Aussie Food classic, the Dim Sim.
That's all from the Bait Layer today,
Get that in t' ya!
Fri, 1 Apr 2016
That Infamous Black Substance in KFC Original Recipe
Topic: Secret Recipe Trials
One of the more intriguing contentions within the KFC O.R. test & research community as championed at The Colonel's Kitchen Forum (last posts 2015), its mirror (currently having Server problems) in the UK, Lumpy's Larder (now defunct), and more recently at Reddit & the KFC11 Forum is the accepted wisdom that Tahitian Vanilla is an integral componet and the suggested recomendation for Vial C, shown above.
Tahitian Vanilla, especially the Grand Crue Raiatea variety is a fine ingredient and it does indeed enhance the synergies between the various other spices BUT it has never sat comfortably with me that it was a, common ingredient in every Southern cook's kitchen, that the ingredients to CHS's most famous secret recipe could be found on, "...everybodys kitchen shelves at home."
Given this statement, and that the argument has already been put before, why Tahitian and not Burbon Vanilla? Moreover, if not Burbon, then why not Totonacs, the true and original source of vanilla in the world? Its these mental rumbling that cause me pause in accepting the status quo support for this ingredient.
Now, the argument has also been put that the selection of herbs and spices ought to be made from those that were common to the Cuisine of the, "Old South" as typically identified in books such as, "What Mrs. Fisher knows about Old Southern Cooking." (dated 1881.)
The problem with this book, good that it is, is that its a book written by white folk, for white folk. It, and others of similar ilk, fail to encompass the extent and variety of spices that may have been used, and their common name variants. Thus other, "Black Spices" (a reference purely to the colour of the spices only!) such as Nigella Seed, Black Sessame, Dried Limes, Goraka, Passilla Chilies, etc. are all but ignored because no one can put an easy finger on their use in Southern and Latin American Cuisine, even though there is a verified history of trade in spices from north Africa, the Indian Subcontinent and Asia, as mentioned in books like "The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture: Volume 7: Foodways" (Page 75) and Wikipedia.
What compounds the issue further is that many of these spices are now seen as modern spices, with no Southern historically use, yet many historical ingredients and their uses have gone the way of the Dodo due to changes in Agricultural Industry Practices, changes in International Trade, and the effects and impacts of post-slavery migration.
Now, I am no expert on Southern Cuisine, so I cannot put any true force to my assertions, but I can ask questions, and seek answers, from those more experienced and knowledgeable in this area, thus encouraging discourse through open dialogue.
Recently, on the KFC11 Forum, much has been made of applying the rigors of mathematics and logic to any underlying recipe formulation.
I Applaude this!
It makes rational sense to start from the basis that CHS with collaborator Eula Gordon would have started with a pinch of this a dash of that into a known quantity of flour, tested and tasted until they got that right, THEN asked the question, how many pieces can we bread with that? Moving from there to wholesale supply is a natural extention and the demands of manufacture and the economies of scale would also dictate necessary changes in the formulation. These changes would then be examined in a homogeneous mix to be tasted at the per chicken piece level, not in amounts, but in impact on taste.
However, Great Wall – Great Fence! Near enough is good enough! especially when it comes to turning over a penny 3 or 4 times before deciding to spend it. It is said that CHS was quite pernickerty about his formulations. However, it also appears he was never the fool with money, and would not spend extra just to, Gild the Lily – cost, feasability, simplicity, and practicality were some of CHS's core hallmarks.
Another area of investigation Not Looked Into is the impact on the spice trade due to growing demands by KFC spice manufacturers for good quality raw materials. This brings us back to the core of my dis-ease with "Tahitian" Vanilla as an ingredient (so sayeth The Pieman.)
Show me the uptick in trade for this comodity against the background of increased sales in KFC and franchise expansion, and you might just win me over.
So, if not Vanilla then what? The three ingredients from above that stand out the most for me are:
- Dried Limes (DIY Method over at Charlie Eats, top one, mate!)
- Nigella Seed, and
- Pasilla Chillies
Why these three?
Nigella Seeds: also known as Fennel Flower, Black Cumin, Roman Coriander, and Black Carraway, has been described as tasting like onions, black pepper and oregano. It is a common enough pepper used in North African and continental indian dishses, and is particularly paired with poultry. Knowledge of this spice would have transported with slaves and possibly made its way into Southern Cooking… I have no specific verification for this and am still looking for evidence of its use or trade into the US and Latin America. Certainly it might be masked by common names like those listed here, or perhaps under another trade name.
Dried Limes: also know as black limes are small limes, like Key Limes cooked in brine and then air dried until black. They are commonly used in noth African stews and chutneys. Knowledge of how to make them would have travelled with African Slaves and been applied to Key Limes. It is quite possible that this would be considered so common as to be almost without need, to be mentioned. Again, I have no hard evidence of their usage in Southern Cuisine or their ready availability as a household staple.
Pasilla Chillies: are a Mexican Black Chilli. Others have posited that Red Pepper or Ancho Chilli (a dried chilli) is an ingredient common enough to be known to CHS as an every day staple. So I posit the qusetion if this, then why not Pasillas? I know nothing more about them, but consider them to be local enough to be on the table for consideration.
With all of this it comes back to, What was the real flavour profile of CHS's Original Recipe 11 Herbs and Spices Mix? Those with the experience are now passing on, the forums are grinding to a halt, are closed to new membership or have been shut down. Those that are still in the search, the new guard, are going it solo, or have no memory, recollection, experience of, or connection with the Original Recipe that has been the source of much of the efforts described in the above mentioned forums.
At 50 years old, I hardly even remember the KFC of the 70's – I didn't like it then, it was grey, salty and goopy, and merely tollerate what we have today. So why am I in the Search?
Simply for the fun of it, the mental discipline, and the application of clear, logical thought to the problem at hand… and the idea that one day, I may find a recipe that I truly like that I can pass on to my kids, so that they can genuinely be the first to claim they have discovered the Original Recipe.
This search requires an eye on ingredients, and eye on tradition, an eye on history – both recent and distant, and an eye on commerce. That's a lot of eyes…
It is not enough for some Copycat Replicator Wannabe to jump up and say, "Here it is!" "I've found it, The Original Recipe!" "I AM THE ONE! (the only one)" …
Fuck that shit!
Show me the evidence of the claim, show me the research, show me the truth of it all, and not some goddammed, shuckster histrionics, and flim flamery.
Get that shit out of my face!
Its an insult to the dedicated, concerted, & consdered work that so many people have so far done and becomes increasing irrelevant as time ticks on.
was am formerly known in the forums above as, "The Pieman," and now, "The Taxidermist," the commentary here are my personal views.
If you don't like them just remember…
"Who's Cookin' This Chook?"
That's all from the Bait Layer today,
Get that int' ya!
Wed, 23 Mar 2016
Thoughts on the Cooking of Kentucky Fried Chicken
Topic: Secret Recipe Trials
This morning I was going through an old diary of mine, thinking oh, gotta write that recipe up, and that one, and… when I came acrosss some notes I'd made about the technical aspects on the Cooking of Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Now, these notes are based primarily on references (mirror) I'd come across on the Internet, as well as some of my own ruminations about what I'd read, and pertains in most part, to issues that are not normally discussed or mentioned in youtube videos and the like. Before I lose my diary (its been known to happen) I thought I'd put these thoughts up here.
These are not instructions per se, but points of interest & consideration in what has been an otherwise exhaustively described process in various KFC Replicator Forums.
- Oil temperature should be above 155°C/310F (for Malliard reaction)
- Carefully add the chicken pieces, without splashing (in a basket, prefered)
- Temperature should drop to below 155°C/310F (approx. to between 121°C/250F and 135°C/275F)
- Close the Pot
- Bring Pressure to 15 PSI/1 Bar/103 kPa and hold at pressure for 8 minutes (10 PSI/0.7 Bar/67 kPa for 10min & 30 sec.)
- Use the Rapid Cool Method (stream of tapwater over outside edge of sealed pot sitting in an open sink)
- When completely depressureised, remove pot from sink, dry the pot then carefully open.
- remove chicken pieces to oven racks and keep in CVAP warmer at 77°C/170F for 20 min.
- Water boils at 121°C/250F @ 15PSI/1 Bar/103 kPa which is neccessary for steam development i.e. not rocking? not hot enough; rocking rapidly? too hot!
- Water boils at 114°C/238F @ 10 PSI/0.7 Bar/69 kPa which impies we need approx. 1/3 more cooking time, or 10-11 minutes. [
why is that? because of 1/3 less pressure?]
- 908g/2lb of oil : 454g/1lb chicken
- Apparently, Colonel Harland Sanders used 1.13kg chickens which were portioned into nine (9) pieces i.e. approx. 126g/0.24lb per piece of chicken and 2 pieces of chicken (252g/0.48lb) constituted 1 serving.
- Some advocate using a 1.36kg/3lb chicken portioned into 8 pieces => approx. 170g/0.375lb per piece of chicken
Portion size critically impacts on the cooking time and cooking consistency of food. Uniform portioning is important also for customer/diner satisfaction, that everyone gets the same amount, without fear of favoritism.
These instructions do not apply to the larger portioned chickens mentioned above, because of the size difference the timings will need to be adjusted accordingly. So, just for arguments sake then:
- based on a 1.134kg/2.2lb chicken portioned into 9 pieces cooked at 103kPa/15 PSI/1 Bar for 8 minutes, one would require a cooking time of approx. 0.42sec/g (13.6sec/oz)
- Thus, a 1.36kg/3lb chicken portioned into 8 pieces would require approx. 10-11 minutes cooking time at 15 PSI/103kPa (or 13-15 minutes @10 PSI/0.7 Bar/ 69kPa)
Sat, 23 Jan 2016
Australia's Iconic Dim Sim : A Marathon Quest
Topic: Secret Recipe Trials
Any search of the Internet for "Dim Sims" – an Australian Classic; will pull up no end of recipe suggestions, and lamentations from Expat Australian's wanting to recreate a little taste of home.
That being said, almost everything out there is wrong; with many an arm chair expert chiming in and correcting those poor Aussie Expats, telling them that what they're searching for is, "Dim Sum," not, "Dim Sim."
To add insult to injury, the one person (Elizabeth Chong) known to have provided an authentic recipe via a TV Interview Series – unfortunately the video is not available: a recipe said to be the basis for Melbourne's once epic South Melbourne Market Dim Sims.
[Addendum 04.2016 – at a guess based on what was listed above try: 500g meat, 75g prawns, 50g water chestnuts, 40g spring onion, 2 tspn light soy sauce.]
Depending on the State they come from, every Aussie Expat will have a different opinion on what constitutes a "great" Aussie Dim Sim. My search is for something, known to almost every Melbourne School Child: that is, how to make at home, Marathon-style Dim Sims - a classic Aussie staple in Supermarkets, Service Stations and every Victorian Chippie out there.
After exhaustive searching and testing here is my current recipe (based on this ingredients list.)
Classic Australian Marathon Dim Sims Recipe
130g diced Cabbage
97g Pre-made Wrappers (flour, water)
78g cooked Ground Beef (this should be approx. 23% of the total mix)
2 tspn Water (approx. 21.0g)
2 tspn Wheat flour(starch) (approx. 4.1g)
1/4 tspn free flowing Table Salt (approx. 1.0g)
1/2 tspn Onion Powder (approx. 0.7g)
1/8 tspn granulated white Table Sugar (approx. 0.4g)
1/8 tspn granulated MSG (Flavour Enhancer E621) (approx. 0.3g)
1/8 tspn Chinese 5 Spice Powder* (0.2g)
* According to Australian Food Standards, "All the ingredients which make up a compound ingredient must be declared in the ingredient list, except when the compound ingredient is used in amounts of less than 5% of the final food."
*Chinese 5 Spice is only a guess on my part as it is a compound ingredient, and at the bottom of the ingredients list is the listing, "Spices." Note, this implies more than one spice. 5 Spice, or Mixed Spice are options, but then so too are proprietary blends. I don't think this'll ever be know, but this is my best guess.
- Combine all Ingredients into a bowl and mix well
- Fill a Food Processor with the mix and pulse until the mixture combines
- Empty Food Processor contents into a clean bowl and continue to process the rest of the ingredients
- Set mixture aside to rest and meld for 30-60 minutes before using
- Take a fresh wrapper, place it on your open, non-dominant hand and put 1-2 tablespoons of mixture in the center
- Fold the corners up over the mixtureso that they come together, then flute and fold the sides up s well
- Carefully form the Dim Sim into a rectangular parcel and stand on its end until read to steam or fry, or freeze.
- When ready, cook the Dim Sims in your prefered way. If deep frying ensure that the oil is maintained between 180°C and 190°C It is the heat that causes the blistering effect on the wrappers.
Dim Sim Wrappers
This is also a contentious area, so here's my take. There is no egg listed in the ingredients list on Marathon Dim Sims, nor is there any oil! Its just flour and water, with perhaps, a little salt. Given the above recipe the combined weight should be around 97g give or take. In the above links it is mentioned that the "Original Recipe" used a custom siu mai wrapper. If you've looked at this kind of wrapper you can clearly see that Dim Sim wrappers are by neccessity thicker – this is the, "Custom" aspect.
Dim Sim Pastry Dough Recipe
1 cup of plain white flour (dip and shake method)
1/4 cup water (a tspn or two more if the dough is a little dry)
1/8 - 1/4 tspn free flowing table salt (optional)
- Season the flour if using salt (optional) and mix well
- Add water to flour and combine until it forms a dough, add a scant more water, if neccessary, to produce a soft, non-sticky dough
- Cover in cling wrap and set aside to rest for 30 minutes
- Either by hand, or with a pasta press, roll the dough into a 12cm wide strip, and approx. 1-2mm thick.
- Cut the dough strip into 12cm squares and keep covered until ready to use
- Dough can be frozen in stacks if you place a square of non-stick baking paper between each dough wrapper
So there you have it, my take on the Australian Classic Marathon Dim Sim.
That's all from the Bait Layer today,
So, get that in't ya!
Newer | Latest | Older