Sunday, February 27, 2011

Day 196

Turnip Cake: Today marked another first for me: I had my inaugural Dim Sum experience! I've been meaning to do it for awhile now, but I'm frequently out of town on weekends, and that's when most dim sum menus occur. Luckily for me, I wasn't busy this weekend, so I was finally able to give it a shot at Canton House on Buford Highway. I wish I could take credit for this meal, but I have to thank my new foodie friend Sarah (follow her on Twitter @sasoffer) for getting the ball rolling on this experience. I've been trying to interact face-to-face with some fellow bloggers and food fans lately, and so far, the results have been great.

If you're not familiar with dim sum, it works like this: you sit down, and servers wheel carts by your table featuring small servings of all different kinds of food. If something looks good, you say "yes" and they give you one. I could write exhaustively about all we ate today, but unfortunately, this blog has to be narrowed down to one new thing. I knew that there had to be several new foods for me to pick from, but as the carts rolled by, I lost count of the things that I didn't recognize at all. Luckily, our "guide" Sarah knew what was good, and we let her do the ordering. It's rare that I let someone else do my choosing for me, but considering how awesome everything looked, I wasn't worried.

In addition to some really amazing clams in spicy black bean sauce, shumai with pork and shrimp, and BBQ pork buns, I got to try something brand new to me, simply called "turnip cake." I don't have any experience with turnips, and this slightly gelatinous-looking square didn't look like anything I've ever eaten. This was the dim sum experience I was looking for. 
Since we were sharing, I grabbed my chopsticks and broke off a small piece. From what I could tell, it looked like the "cake" was pan-fried, and served over a small amount of what appeared to be soy sauce. Despite the gooey texture (which I know turns a lot of people off), I was really exciting to see what this was all about. I took a bite, and it definitely had a firm but gelatinous texture, like I expected. The flavor was a bit sweet, with some saltiness courtesy of what I later decided was oyster sauce in the bottom of the dish. It reminded me of the Asian products I've eaten made with rice flour, and I really enjoyed it.

After doing some research on this dish tonight, I was shocked to discover that there's actually no turnip in turnip cake! According to Wikipedia, turnip is used in the name only, and it's actually a Cantonese dish made from shredded daikon radish and plain rice flour. I've been duped!

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