Posted on September 2, 2018 by Andrew Armstrong
What happens when hamburger meets taco by way of a steamed bun? It’s a rou jia mo, “meat between bread,” better known as the Chinese hamburger. It’s the new way to satisfy your munchies with ambrosial street food, Chinese style.
This Asian edition of the hamburger originated in China’s Shaanxi Province centuries ago and gradually spread all over the country. Proving that good food is appreciated everywhere, its popularity is now worldwide.
Smaller than American burgers, these tasty treats are standard Chinese street food. People have been eating them since the Qin dynasty. That makes them the “world’s first hamburger,” available for hungry diners about 2100 years before burgers from the first McDonald’s.
According to a professor at Northwest University in Xi’an, the idea to put meat between bread started with cooks in the palace. The royals loved it. As word spread, it became the food of choice among people of every rank, from workers to nobles.
In recent years the Chinese hamburger has appeared on menus in restaurants and at street carts worldwide. One vendor in front of New York’s Columbia University said he can easily sell over 100 a day.
In China, street vendor operations selling the Chinese hamburger can be elaborate. Servers choose ingredients from 10 or 15 bowls, as they assemble the rou jia mo to each customer’s specifications.
Restaurants in the U.S. are adapting the rou jia mo to meet local tastes, an evolution that many Asian dishes undergo. For example, a Mexican-Chinese restaurant in Las Vegas has a version using pork with a bit of Mexican cinnamon and crema. But clearly the best place to enjoy an authentic and delicious Chinese hamburger is at none other than Dim Sum USA in Foster City, California!
Instead of a hamburger bun, the rou jia mo uses a pita-style bun, usually baked in a clay oven but sometimes pan-fried. They are small enough to hold in one hand, making the finished burger convenient for eating on the go.
The wrapping look much like Chinese steamed buns. The dough is made with wheat flour, yeast and water. It’s a simple combination, but the bun takes on a special chewy texture that lets the taste of the filling shine through.
Just like the American version, meat is the heart of this burger. Chopped pork is a favorite, but beef, lamb, chicken and sometimes donkey are also used, depending where in China it is made.
Whatever is used, the meat is thinly sliced, tender and full of flavor. It is always slow cooked with a variety of spices. Different parts of China use their own selection of flavoring, but especially popular are star anise, cloves, ginger and coriander.
The mix is usually topped with fresh vegetables like green onions, shredded lettuce and cilantro. Other additions might include noodles, pickled green beans and chili sauce.
Looking for the latest and greatest in fast food? Give this centuries-old favorite a try!
Posted on August 31, 2018 by Andrew Armstrong
Those dumplings you love from Dim Sum USA, from your Mom’s cooking, or elsewhere… are more than great tasting fare. This favorite comfort food weaves itself deeply into the entire Chinese culture. It is an integral part of holidays, traditions, and even superstitions.
They are more than pieces of dough with a filling. Chinese dumplings are visible, tasty signs that illustrate essential parts of Chinese culture. The crescent-shaped dumplings served during Lunar New Year symbolize the brightness of the moon and the promise of a bright and prosperous year ahead.
Next time you enjoy a meal of Chinese dumplings, realize it’s more than having a great meal. You are participating in a cultural experience that is centuries old.
The Chinese Lunar New Year, and its lead up called the Spring Festival, feature dumplings in all shapes and sizes. Extended families get together to share a meal, reminisce and reconnect.
Of course, a big get-together means a lot of food. Several cooks from different parts of the family join up to make the dough, prepare the fillings, wrap them up and cook them. It’s a time to gossip, catch up and bond.
To feed a crowd, big platters with a range of dumplings are set out together. Like so much in Chinese culture and cooking it also has a symbolic meaning. Combining the different dumplings signifies togetherness and completeness. Eat them and you increase your chances for successful teamwork and family togetherness in the months to come.
— China Xinhua News (@XHNews) January 30, 2017
If you bite down on a gold coin in your New Year dumpling, great wealth will be yours in the coming months. At least that’s the tradition. A scrumptious dumpling and 12 months of prosperity—it doesn’t get much better than that.
Yellow-tinged dumplings stand for the gold currency used centuries ago in China. By eating them, you put yourself in alignment with wealth and an affluent future.
It’s not just the filling. The names of assorted dumplings are also part of the cultural experience. Words pronounced the same can actually have different meanings. Playing with words, diners can talk about dumplings and good wishes at the same time. For example, peanuts refer to a specific type of dumpling, but it also means health and continuous growth.
Dumplings help a Chinese-Canadian mom handle the angst of an empty nest in the new Pixar short film, Bao. Directed by Domee Shi, the short film draws on her experience as the daughter of immigrants and her family’s life in Canada. She actually had her mother come to the movie set twice to conduct dumpling-making lessons for the crew.
Shi points out, “Said one way, bao … means steam bun. … And said another way, it means precious or a treasure.” The difference is at the heart of Bao, and a gentle, entertaining look at how pervasive this food is to the Chinese experience.
— Yohoyohoblogger (@yohoyohoblogger) August 22, 2018
You thought you were eating for a delectable meal of Chinese dumplings. HA. You are participating in Chinese culture at one of its most basic levels—food.
Posted on March 17, 2018 by dimsumusa
Dim sum is usually linked with the older tradition from yum cha (Chinese: 飲茶; Cantonese Yale: yám chàh; pinyin: yǐnchá; literally: "drink tea"), which has its roots in travelers on the ancient Silk Road needing a place to rest. Thus, teahouses were established along the roadside. An imperial physician in the third century wrote that combining tea with food would lead to excessive weight gain. People later discovered that tea can aid in digestion, so teahouse owners began adding various snacks.
The unique culinary art dim sum originated with the Cantonese in Guangzhou (or Canton), who over the centuries transformed yum cha from a relaxing respite to a loud and happy dining experience. In Hong Kong, and in most cities and towns in Guangdong province, many restaurants start serving dim sum as early as five in the morning. It is a tradition for the elderly to gather to eat dim sum after morning exercises. For many in southern China, yum cha is treated as a weekend family day. More traditional dim sum restaurants typically serve dim sum until mid-afternoon. However, in modern society, it has become commonplace for restaurants to serve dim sum at dinner time; various dim sum items are even sold as take-out for students and office workers on the go.