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Dim Sum: The Art of Chinese Tea Lunch (Anglais) Relié – 9 avril 2002

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The Role of Tea

Legend has tea being discovered accidentally around 3000 b.c., when tea leaves blew into an outdoor cooking vessel being used to boil water. It was immediately appreciated for its refreshing flavor, and the eventual discovery of its medicinal value and ability to enhance alertness led to its increased use.

Tea was brewed from fresh leaves until the third century b.c., when drying and processing tremendously widened its popularity. Tea has been cultivated commercially in China for at least 1,800 years. Through the centuries, it has served as currency, as payment of taxes to emperors, and as a key factor in the development of porcelain, world trade, and international relations.

While the earliest teahouses served nothing but tea, that gradually changed. Starting with nuts and seeds, accompaniments became more and more elaborate, until "having tea" came to connote enjoying a meal at which dim sum played the central role.

Tea has evolved, too, into countless varieties, but every tea can still be classified as belonging to one of three categories: green, semi-fermented, or black (called red in China). All come from the same shrub, Camellia sinensis. Differences arise from processing techniques. Leaves for green tea are either wilted or not, then pan-fried, steamed, or fired in an oven to prevent oxidation and enzyme action. Leaves for semi-fermented and black teas are wilted, then bruised to allow oxidation to different degrees; this triggers enzymes to create chemical changes, producing tea with more color and less astringency. A final firing stops the process and dries the leaves.

Further variations in tea result from differing soils, climates, time of year the leaves are picked, which leaves are picked, whether leaves are wilted in the sun or shade, and whether flowers or other ingredients are added to scent the tea.

Choosing a Tea

The first question you will be asked when you are seated at a dim sum restaurant is, "What tea will you have?" Here are some favorites you may want to try, either at a restaurant or at home:

Dragon Well, or lung ching, is a mellow green tea celebrated for its bright color and cooling effect. The highest grade is picked from tiny, very young buds and leaves, then dried flat, and the skill required to process them contributes to its high cost.

Gunpowder, or pingshui, is a strong green tea named for the pelletlike shape of its tightly rolled leaves. It is also known as pearl tea, or zhucha, because of its appearance.

Jasmine, or moli huacha, is a green or semi-fermented oolong tea with jasmine flowers added. It is refreshingly astringent, with a delicate flower fragrance; the oolong variety is fuller, with a more lingering aftertaste. Jasmine is often the default tea you will be given if you don't make a choice.

Keemun, or qihong, is known as the king or champagne of black teas, for its roselike fragrance, slightly smoky taste, and deep amber color.

Lychee, or lizhi hongcha, is a black tea scented with the juice of lychee fruit, which also gives it a sweet, mellow, flowery aroma.

Oolong refers to a group of semi-fermented teas, less astringent than green teas, with a floral aftertaste. These include ti kwan yin and some jasmine teas.

Pu-erh (also pronounced po nay or bo lay), a semi-fermented tea, is a popular dim sum tea because of its reputed ability to counteract rich food and reduce cholesterol. This is the tea I order if I plan to indulge in deep-fried dim sum. It has an earthy, mellow flavor.

Ti Kwan Yin (also spelled tieguanyin), the Iron Goddess of Mercy, lends her name to this most famous oolong tea, prized for its orchidlike aroma.

Brewing Tea

There are many disagreements about how to brew perfect tea, with different opinions on correct water temperature, whether to use a tea ball or tea bags, how long to steep or infuse the tea, how much tea to use, and whether to reuse the leaves for a second pot. You will no doubt develop your own preferences, but for starters, here are some suggestions.

For the freshest-tasting tea, start with cold water in your kettle. While it is boiling, fill your teapot with hot water to warm it. Just before the water boils, empty the teapot and measure about 1 teaspoon of tea leaves into the pot for each cup of water you plan to use. If you use a perforated metal tea ball, do not overfill it, because the leaves need room to expand.

Pour the boiling water directly over the leaves and steep them for 3 to 5 minutes. (Some people first "wash" the dry tea leaves with a little boiling water, pouring it off immediately, then filling the pot with fresh boiling water.) Green teas require less steeping time than semi-fermented and black teas. Stronger tea is made by using more leaves, not more time. Longer steeping may result in bitter tea, so you may want to transfer the tea to another heated pot or, as many Chinese households do, to a heated thermos.

I don't mind a few tea leaves in the bottom of my cup, but if you're fussier, use a tea strainer when you pour your tea into the cup.

More boiling water may be added to the teapot for a second infusion. In fact, some connoisseurs insist the second infusion is best.

With a Chinese meal, whether to serve tea with or after the food is a regional preference, but tea is always served with dim sum. In any case, never add sugar, milk, or lemon to the tea.

Steamed Dumplings

When most people think of dim sum, they probably think of dumplings first. Coax a waitress to lift the lids from the stacked steamers on her cart and you'll be tantalized by translucent wheat starch dumplings with myriad fillings-delectable mouthfuls of pork, shrimp, scallops, or vegetables. Most dumplings are steamed, their wrappers cleverly twisted and pleated into fanciful shapes. The most common, ha gow, is instantly recognizable by its delicately pleated exterior. Siu mai shows off its filling above a ruffled collar. Other dumplings are folded into triangles, crescents, and twisted circles.

Setting up a Steamer

Most steamed dishes are cooked over rapidly boiling water; the plate of food is kept elevated on a stand above the water level. The pot must be large enough to allow steam to circulate around the plate, and the pot should have a tight-fitting lid. A wok with a high, domed lid or a wide pasta pot can work well as a steamer.

If you plan to steam a lot, invest in a multitiered metal or bamboo steamer from Chinatown. Aluminum or stainless steel steamers have a bottom section to hold water, two tiers with perforated bottoms for steam to circulate through, and a tight lid. Advantages of a metal steamer are that the bottom section can double as a pot, and it is the best choice for steaming buns.

Bamboo steamer baskets are meant to fit snugly over an open wok filled with boiling water. The bottom of each tier is made from bamboo slats; the sides are fashioned from several layers of split bamboo lashed together. The ingeniously woven top holds in steam remarkably well; it is used instead of a wok lid. Advantages of bamboo steamers are that they impart a wonderful, subtle scent; they work as well as metal steamers for steaming buns; and they are pretty enough to hang on the wall or double as baskets. They also seem to improve with age; mine have lasted many years.

To steam foods, add water to the pot or wok to a depth of about 1 1/2 to 2 inches. If you are using a steamer, fill the bottom section two-thirds full with water.

Bring the water to a boil. Place the pan or plate of food on the stand in a pot or wok and cover it with a lid. If using a steamer, place the plate of food on a tier and stack the steamer together. Steam the food over high heat. Replenish the pot with boiling water as necessary between batches, and check the water level from time to time for dishes that require long cooking times.

What's in a Dough?

Most of the dumplings in this book use one of two basic dumpling doughs, and they're quite different even though they're both derived from wheat. The flour dough is just all-purpose flour and water-essentially a pasta dough. The gluten in the flour gives it resilience, so it can be rolled very thin or stretched without tearing, and it is easily pinched closed. It is sturdy enough to withstand pan-frying, deep-frying, and boiling. The dough remains opaque, and you may vary its color and flavor by adding egg yolk, curry powder, or puréed spinach or carrots.

The other basic dumpling dough is made with wheat starch and a bit of tapioca flour. This dough is more fragile and tender than flour dough, and it is prone to splitting open during steaming if it is not carefully pinched closed. Still, this is the dough that becomes a translucent jewel case when steamed, and its lightness will not overwhelm a delicate filling.

The wrappers carried by many supermarkets are made from flour dough, and though they may be labeled with different names, the primary difference is how thinly they are rolled. A one-pound package will contain about 20 spring roll wrappers, 40 to 60 potsticker wrappers, or at least 80 thinner siu mai wrappers. Square wonton wrappers are too thin to use in place of potsticker wrappers, but they work as siu mai wrappers; you may trim them into circles with a cookie cutter or use them as is.

A fanciful array of dumpling shapes and colors contributes as much to their appeal as the variety of fillings within. Traditionally, certain fillings go with certain folds; ha gow, for instance, are immediately recognizable by their shape. Still, I've had "ha gow" filled with pea shoots, so feel free to experiment with different combinations.

Once you have shaped and filled the dumplings, take care to pinch the edges together very tightly to seal in the filling and keep the dough from breaking open during cooking.

Wheat Starch Dough

When you want translucent steamed dumplings, this is the dough to use. Make fillings ahead so they can cool while you mak...

Revue de presse

Praise for Every Grain of Rice

“Part family chronicle, part cookbook, and all heart, this is a really wonderful book.” —Ruth Reichl

“Enchanting watercolors are among the book’s pleasures. . . . These dishes are a joy to cook, not only for their ultimate goodness but also because the authors and their families are so much a part of each dish.” —New York Times

“Graceful recollections of family and food are scattered among the recipes, along with Blonder’s harmonious, informative drawings.” —Gourmet magazine

“Charming watercolor illustrations . . . Learning new techniques was a bonus to this lovely book full of good food.” —Fine Cooking magazine

“A book filled with personality, warm stories, and recipes that reflect the Chinese table in America.”
Chicago Tribune

“Certain to charm and delight readers, even noncooks, this is highly recommended.”
—Library Journal

“Every Grain of Rice mixes a variety of recipes with lovely reminiscences of family lore. Combined with the beautiful (and helpful) illustrations by Blonder and the high quality of production, the cookbook is a small gem.” —San Francisco Chronicle

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Couverture | Copyright | Table des matières | Extrait | Index | Quatrième de couverture
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 43 commentaires
61 internautes sur 63 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Excellent Balance between Authenticity and Acessibility 8 décembre 2009
Par Richard Wong - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
Let me first say that I am born in Hong Kong and have literally grown up with Dim Sum. I view it as more than just great foods but also as part of a traditional family event. Much like Southern barbecue isn't just about the pork. I am giving this book a 4.5-stars rating

One thing I really appreciate about this book is that its small 2 pages devotion in tea. Tea plays a very important role in traditional Dim Sum. Dim Sum are the foods, but the entire event/experience of going to a Chinese restaurant, ordering Dim Sum and drinking tea is called "Yum Cha", which literally means "Drink Tea". In short, the book converses more than just recipes.

The recipes are not entirely authentic from two angles. It is not necessary a bad thing, but potential buyers should know where this book is coming from. First, a few of the traditional Dim Sum dishes, like Black Bean Sauce Chicken feet, are passed up for semi-western pastries like Mango Pudding. Second, the recipes themselves are not purely authentic. A good example is the recipe for Char-Siu Bao (Steam Cantonese BBQ Pork Buns). It only calls for cake flour. A more authentic recipe would have called for both cake flour and wheat starch. That being said, this book is much more authentic than many other books which simply call for all-purpose flour. I have altered 80% of the recipes I tried thus far because the final products differ from my recollection. Nevertheless, the book provides a good starting point for people who want to try making Dim Sum. The book also offers many vegetarian versions of the same dish. The pictures are wonderful. They are beautiful hand-drawn pictures of the Dim Sum, as well as the hand-drawn procedures, like the steps to pleat a Char Siu Bao. These hand-drawn procedures are cleaner and simpler to understand than photographs. The cooking instructions are easy to follow as well, assuming you have a basic knowledge in cooking and have read one or two cookbooks before.

Here is a dilemma for Dim Sum book. Many Dim Sum dishes are not simple. Most Chinese home cooks cannot make them. They are certainly not typical cookies which home cooks can easily make. As such, a Dim Sum book can be very authentic but >1% of home cook can follow or it can be very easy to learn but does not resume the real dishes at all. This book strikes a good balance between being authentic and accessible. It is not too daunting for a person to learn and the ingredients are not too difficult to find, yet it is authentic enough that readers will not be wasting time and energy in learning subpar recipes. Although this book is an introductory cookbook for Dim Sum enthusiasts, it is not a beginning cookbook. It assumes the readers have a decent background in general cooking. In short, it is a beginner book for Dim Sum, but it is not a beginner book for cooking.
39 internautes sur 40 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A Heartwarming Book, Very Worthy of its Small Subject 30 janvier 2004
Par B. Marold - Publié sur
Format: Relié
This `Dim Sum, The Art of Chinese Tea Lunch' is the second book from graphic artist Ellen Leong Blonder. The first three things which strike one about the book is that it is a smallish book for a fairly sizable subject, the author is neither a chef nor a culinary journalist, and that the design and illustrations in the book are exceedingly well done.
I always have problems rating small books which commonly give half the value for about two thirds of the price of full sized books. Since this is Ms. Blonder's second book on a culinary subject, and since her first book won an IACP Cookbook award, her being an apparent culinary amateur should cause no concern about the quality of the book's contents.
The book is divided into the following chapters:
Steamed Dumplings
Boiled and Pan-Fried Dumplings
Breads and Baked Dishes
Rice and Rice Flour Dishes
Greens and Pan-Fried Dishes
Deep-Fried and Bean Curd Sheet Dishes
Sauces and Condiments
The book also contains small sections on types of tea, planning a menu, equipment and supplies, resources, and bibliography.
In a book this small, the bibliography becomes an important resource. The text states that some Dim Sum restaurants offer over a hundred dishes, yet this book has barely 110 pages devoted to often two page recipes. The book makes up for this sparseness in two very important ways.
First, it spends much of its space dedicated to Dim Sum cooking methods and equipment for steaming and deep-frying. It also gives excellent recipes for dumpling doughs and wrappers plus methods for folding dumplings.
Second, this book succeeds very well as a `feel good' book based on both the text and the color drawings, and the exceptionally good job of designing the book.
The greatest personal attraction of the book is the fact that it includes excellent recipes for baked `char siu bao' dumplings, something I often got at New Jersey Asian Markets, but which seem totally alien to the backwater Lehigh Valley. Having taken up cooking, this is one of the first things I wanted to try. The instructions for these baked filled rolls is a clean and you may wish. I have seen recipes in other books, which seem to require instructions on how to read the recipe.
If you love well-designed books or Chinese cooking, this book will warm your heart and your tummy.
43 internautes sur 46 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Delightful Pastry 11 mai 2002
Par Julie Leong - Publié sur
Format: Relié
I just recieved my copy of Ms Blonder's wonderful "Dim Sum: The art of Chinese Tea Lunch". As with the earlier "Every Grain of Rice - this book is a visual delight.
Intrigued by the recipe for Char-Siu Pastries I decided to try them as an appetizer for a lunch party. After first preparing the pork, I was surprised at how clear the instructions were and how well the pastries turned out, warm out of the oven with a light flaky crust - I found the sweet taste of the Char-Siu and the hot meat inside made these irresistable. Next time I will know to make more.
I'm going to have fun with this book.
17 internautes sur 17 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Surprisingly Authentic and Straightforward 17 juillet 2004
Par Un client - Publié sur
Format: Relié
I was skeptical about the book because of the lack of photographs and fewer-than-usual pages, but I was happily wrong. The dim sum selection is comprised of authentic items found in restaurants, so you can use almost every recipe. The color illustrations are actually better than photographs because the details, such as how to wrap dumplings, are easier to see. The writing is very straightforward, and there are helpful tips along the way. This is a great book!
20 internautes sur 21 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
An okay starter book, but for serious dim sum you must get.... 28 juillet 2008
Par Amazon Customer - Publié sur
Format: Relié
This is a good starter book for dim sum. I didn't find the flavors completely authentic, but it is a pretty, user friendly book.

If you are serious about dim sum you must get Eileen Yin-Fei Lo's book about dim sum. It is out of print but you can still get used copies online easily. The recipes in there are absolutely amazing. Hint: if a recipe calls for lard you can use peanut oil instead.
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