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Bite-sized delights

By Xu Junqian | China Daily | Updated: 2015-08-04 08:00

Bite-sized delights

Dim-sum chef Eric Zeng believes sticking to the tradition of making everything from scratch is what makes his dumplings and buns stand out. Photos Provided to China Daily

A Shanghai chef finds ways to make dim sum a treat for all the senses, Xu Junqian reports.

After almost 20 years in the kitchen, dim-sum chef Eric Zeng believes the appearance of these Chinese bite-size snacks is very important, and he strives to present them in a way that is almost "superficial".

"Dim sums have never been a staple on the table," says Zeng. "To help them steal the thunder from the plump roasted goose or shiny golden rice, my first trick is to dress them up."

At Vue Dining, the Cantonese restaurant where he has just taken over the reins, for example, the tea-smoked scallop dumpling teases all of your senses. As tea leaves and buds of lavender, chrysanthemum and jasmine take a sauna on the hot stones under the bamboo basket - filled with three delicate, transparent and triangular dumplings - your nose is treated to a feast of fragrances from the sweating tea leaves.

The treat for the tongue that followed is less fancy, more elemental: The scallop filling is juicy, muscular, and flavored with nothing but salt.

"It's the flavor of nature," says Zeng, both about the dumplings and the floral tea fragrances. You are unlikely to miss the "civilizing" touches of MSG or even soy sauce.

Zeng has developed upward of 300 types of dim sum.

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