I feel like we need to have a discussion about brunch. It seems as though every Saturday and Sunday morning when I am walking Kona I see line-ups on the sidewalk of people hankering to get their fill of coffee and eggs. What is it about weekends and the city that drives people to wait in all weather conditions for brunch? Along the same vein, when did restaurants stop taking reservations? Most places in the city require you to have a party of at least 8 people for you to be able to make a reservation. This is unfortunate for a group of 6, as you might have to wait 45 minutes to get your morning coffee. If you are like me, 45 minutes with no morning coffee is very unpleasant for anyone around you. The odd time that I do indulge in brunch with friends I actually have my coffee before I leave just in case there is any wait (there usually is).
Don’t get me wrong, I like brunch; pancakes, eggs, and waffles are all delicious things. However, I don’t feel the need to only eat them on weekends from 10am-2pm. As far as I am concerned there are no rules regarding the times that you can eat certain foods. I like pizza for breakfast and waffles for dinner. Who made these crazy rules about when it’s okay to eat bacon and eggs anyway? Perhaps my need to break the mold in terms of socially acceptable times to eat specific foods is why I like dim sum so much. Green tea, dumplings and shrimp for breakfast? I am in! I also like that in Toronto I can get dim sum any time of day, there are no rules! On top of this, I can make reservations at my favorite spots. All in all it seems like a great choice.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with dim sum, it is essentially Cantonese brunch. It normally contains a variety of small dishes, much like tapas. You will find a variety of foods including dumplings, steamed buns, congee, sweet and savory cakes, and tarts. One of my all-time favorite dim sum dishes is sticky rice. Each restaurant will make sticky rice a little bit differently; some will be steamed in leaves, some will have meat, and others will be simpler. The one common thing is that all will use a specific variety of rice known as glutinous rice.
The recipe below is my take on a simplified version of sticky rice. Personally I like this for breakfast with a side of steamed greens, but it is equally tasty for lunch or dinner (just in case you aren’t a fan of rice for breakfast). Leftovers reheat really well, so they make a great packed lunch. You should be able to find most of the ingredients that you need in Chinatown or at your local Asian grocer. Often items like Chinese sausage will come in a large package, I will just freeze what I don’t need so I’ll have some on hand for next time. I tend to keep a stash of dried shrimp in my freezer as well for the same reason. I use a rice cooker for this recipe. If you don’t have one you could use a bamboo steamer basket or make your rice in a pot. I will admit that I have not tried this though, so if you do please let me know how it works out.
Dim Sum Inspired Sticky Rice
Makes 5 meal sized servings
$9.60 per recipe or $1.92 per serving
2 Cups Uncooked Glutinous Rice
3 2/3 Cups Water
1 Tbsp Oyster Sauce
3 Tbsp Soy Sauce
1/2 Tsp Toasted Sesame Oil
¼ Cup Water
1 Tbsp Canola Oil
¼ Cup Dried Shrimp
1 Large Onion, diced
6 Dried Crimini or Button Mushrooms
3 Chinese Sausages, diced
1 Tsp White Wine or Rice Wine Vinegar
To start, soak your shrimp and mushrooms for about 20 minutes. Drain the water after soaking.
Squeeze excess water out of mushrooms and slice. Set aside.
Rinse rice well under running water
Place in rice cooker with 3 2/3 cups of water
Cook rice until it is done, about 20 minutes depending on your rice cooker. Rice should be very sticky.
In the meantime combine sauces, sesame oil and remainder of water
Heat the canola oil in a wok or large, deep pan
Sauté onion until translucent
Add shrimp, sausages and mushrooms. Sauté for about 2 minutes.
Add vinegar to the mixture
Now add the cooked rice to the wok, breaking up any clumps with a wooden spoon
Add some of the sauce, keep on break up those clumps, then add the rest
Mix until the ingredients are spread evenly throughout, there aren’t any clumps left and the rice is all the same color