I always wondered what the magical fascination was about San Francisco. California’s great “northern” city that is actually located more or less in the middle of the state. I was so perplexed by the fascination that I purposefully skipped visiting San Francisco five or six times as I drove the length of California to my home in Oregon. It was too much of a pain in the ass to have to deal with the traffic, hills, and the expense. Let’s just say that I am more inclined to drive two hours out of my way to see The Jelly Belly Factory (I have a weird fetish for Jelly Bellies) than to visit the great city of fog and hills.
That being said, I had an opportunity to stay at a fancy schmancy hotel in downtown San Francisco while my husband was there on a business trip, so I took it. I lived THE life on the 26th floor overlooking the plebs for an entire week.
I was alone for the first few days of the trip and my folks later joined us. I have found that the best way to embrace and/or experience a new city is to do it alone and on foot. We as a viewer miss so much of the richness of a city when we do it from the protected vantage point of a moving car. The sites, smells, and sounds are muted. With this in mind, I tend to take things one step further and I try and get lost. It is a lot less scary than it sounds. Especially in the day and age of google maps and Uber. Yes, on my lost adventure I accidentally ended up at a gay/bondage book/fetish shop that was loudly and very unabashedly playing bondage gay porn on a 10′ by 10′ screen hanging in the air. The patron of the shop gladly pointed me in the right direction, I got a great story and a visual that will stay glued in my head for all eternity. Nothin says lovin like a man named Bernie wearing a studded collar and green latex hot pants.
As you know if you have been following this blog at all, I have a weird fascination with lists and I found this one. The Best Dim Sum Restaurants in San Francisco Oh sweet jumping Jesus on a pogo stick I love dim sum. To me, dim sum is Chinese for “way the hell too much food. Roll me out of here like Violet Beauregard.”
You are totally singing the Oompa Loompa song now, aren’t you? C’mon admit it.
I knew on this particular trip I couldn’t possibly get to all the dim sum places on the list, that would be ridiculous and something I will totally do on another trip. My husband and I decided on Yak Sing. Both because of the nearness in location and because the menu looked amazing. This is the moment when I was introduced to the soup dumpling, and my life has never been the same. Have you ever loved something so much that you want to roll around in a pile of them like a golden retriever? No? umm, yea me neither. Moving on.
Yak Sing is world famous for their dumplings. I don’t think I will ever be able to recreate this recipe. It is insanely complicated and frankly, I just would rather have someone one feed me them while fanning me with palm fronds. Here is the recipe for it in case you are feeling really creative.
SERVINGS: MAKES ABOUT 48
- ½ pound pork skin, cut in half
- 1 pound pork bones
- 1 pig’s foot
- 3 scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 3-inch piece ginger, peeled, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (Chinese rice wine)
- Kosher salt
- 1¼ pounds ground pork shoulder (Boston butt; 20% fat)
- 3 scallions, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, finely grated
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1¾ teaspoons kosher salt
- 1¼ teaspoons Shaoxing wine (Chinese rice wine)
- 1¼ teaspoons sugar
- 1¼ teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- ¾ teaspoon finely grated ginger
- ¾ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- 1 2-inch piece ginger, peeled, julienned
- ⅓ cup black vinegar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 head Napa cabbage
- Nonstick cooking oil spray
- A 1″-diameter wooden dowel, a bench scraper, a ruler (optional); a bamboo steamer
PreparationACTIVE: 3 HRSTOTAL: 4 HR 30 MIN
- Place pork skin in a small stockpot or large saucepan and add cold water to cover. Bring to a boil; drain and rinse with cold water. Slice skin lengthwise into 1″-wide strips, trimming any fat, then slice strips crosswise into about ¼”-wide pieces. Return skin to same stockpot and add bones, foot, scallions, ginger, wine, and 8 cups cold water. Bring to a boil, skim surface of any foam, and reduce heat. Simmer, skimming often, until liquid is almost opaque and reduced to 2 cups, 60−75 minutes.
- Strain liquid into a 13×9″ baking dish; discard solids. Season with salt and chill until set, at least 2 hours and up to 3 days. If making ahead, cover soup with plastic wrap once jelled.
- Mix ground pork, scallions, garlic, soy sauce, salt, wine, sugar, oil, ginger, and pepper with chopsticks in a medium bowl, stirring in one direction until it all comes together and a light film forms on the sides of bowl, about 20 seconds.
- Cut a fine crosshatch pattern in jelled soup to create very small pieces (about ⅛” squares). Scrape into bowl with filling and mix to combine. Cover and chill until ready to use.
- Place 3 cups flour in a medium bowl. Slowly drizzle in 1 cup very hot tap water, mixing constantly with chopsticks or a fork, until dough starts to hold together in shaggy pieces. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rest 15 minutes (this allows flour to hydrate).
- Add oil and mix until dough comes together and forms a shaggy ball. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead, adding more flour as needed to prevent sticking, until dough is very soft, smooth, supple, and just a little bit tacky, about 10 minutes. Dust dough lightly with flour and wrap in plastic. Let rest 1 hour.
- Mix scallions, ginger, vinegar, and soy sauce in a small bowl; set aside.
- Place several large cabbage leaves in steamer, leaving about a 1″ border around the sides for steam to travel through. Lightly coat cabbage with nonstick spray (a dumpling that sticks is a dumpling that tears) and set steamer next to work station.
- Divide dough into 4 equal pieces. Working with 1 piece at a time and keeping other pieces covered with plastic wrap, roll out dough with your palms to make 12″-long ropes.
- Cut each rope into twelve 1″-pieces with bench scraper. Using a ruler as a guide means all your pieces will be the same size, resulting in uniform dumplings. You’ll look like a pro!
- Working with 1 piece of dough at a time and keeping other pieces covered in plastic wrap (it’s important to keep the dough covered while you work because it dries out very easily), press your thumb into cut side of dough to flatten.
- Dust very lightly with flour and use dowel to roll out into thin rounds, about 4″ in diameter—work from the center moving outward, applying slightly more pressure as you reach the edges to make them a little thinner. Cover with plastic.
- Lay a wrapper across the upper part of your palm and bottom half of the fingers of your nondominant hand. Spoon 1 Tbsp. filling into wrapper, making sure to get some pieces of jelled soup.
- Lightly spread out filling with the back of the spoon, leaving at least a ½” border. Spoon a couple more pieces of jelled soup into center of filling. Slightly cup your palm around dumpling and gently grasp edge of wrapper between your thumb and index finger. Position your other thumb and index finger ½” away in the same fashion.
- Using fingertips on one hand, gently pull and stretch wrapper outward before bringing it in to meet opposite fingers. Carefully fold stretched area in on itself, creating a pleat. Pinch to seal.
- Rotating dumpling as you work, repeat process to create a series of 18 pleats, leaving a small hole in the center. You’ll probably get only 10 or 12 pleats the first few times you do this; as your skill increases, so will your folds.
- Cradle dumpling in your palm, gently rotating it and working filling upward so dumpling is shaped like a fig. This step elongates the dumpling, eliminating air between wrapper and filling.
- Pinch edges together and gently twist to seal. Place dumpling in prepared steamer and cover with plastic wrap.
- Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling. Work relatively quickly to keep edges of wrappers from drying out while you work.
- Remove plastic wrap. Place steamer over a large skillet of rapidly boiling water, making sure water doesn’t touch steamer, and cover. Steam dumplings 8 minutes (10 if frozen). Serve directly from steamer with reserved dipping sauce alongside.
- Do Ahead: Make and freeze dumplings 1 month ahead. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets that have been coated with nonstick spray. Cover with plastic wrap lightly coated with nonstick spray and freeze solid. Transfer to resealable plastic freezer bags. Steam directly from freezer.
Life list item achieved – Best Dim Sum in San Francisco