Thursday, June 10, 2010

Din Tai Fung - XLB Workshop, New Dishes and Voucher Giveaway

Din Tai Fung's top xiao long bao chef shows us how it's done
We all know that xiao long bao is not easy to make. Especially the folding of the delicate skin to make those famous 18 pleats. But it wasn't until I tried my own hand at manipulating the dough that I truly appreciated the full extent of the skills required. This was during a Din Tai Fung (DTF) hands-on workshop where their head chef in Singapore (he is originally from Taiwan) gave us a demo.

It's a lot of precision work. You can check out the beautifully photographed step-by-step process that Aromacookery, Keropokman and TheLittleTeochew have put up. No point in me repeating similar photos!


The ugly xiao long bao I made! Yes, complete with torn skin!
This is the xiao long bao I made. Yes, the torn skin is quite a giveaway! Auto #fail I think!

Rolling the skin into precise 5.5cm diameter skins with edges thinner than the centre sounds challenging but it's quite addictive. Folding in the top part is the toughest, I found. Did the chef teach us how to make 18 pleats? No, because it was a feat if we could make passable pleats at all! Forget about the complexity of gauging pleat sizes and counting!

We all practised with red bean filling which is a lot easier than actual xiao long bao meat filling. It was a pity we did not get to see how they prepare the minced meat filling. I guess they are not sharing any secrets there!


The master's neatly pleated xiao long bao
And this is the version expertly done by the chef. See how neatly and evenly it is pleated, and with a fine flourish on top. The chefs at DTF train for 2 years to master the steps from mixing the dough to making those 18 exquisite pleats on every xiao long bao.

After the workshop, DTF treated the bloggers to a lunch including some new dishes introduced this year.


Vegetarian Delight in Special Vinegar Dressing 小菜, S$2.80
Vegetarian Delight in Special Vinegar Dressing 小菜, S$2.80
This is one of their best-selling appetisers. I love all the ingredients in this dish - seaweed, black fungus, thick mung vermicelli, tofu strips, bean sprouts and sliced chili. But I keep hoping for a more ponzu-like dressing somehow.


Fragrant Pork with Crushed Garlic 蒜泥白肉, S$6.80
Fragrant Pork with Crushed Garlic 蒜泥白肉, S$6.80
This is new and it is gorgeous. Cold slices of pork belly wrapped around a crunchy piece of kyuri (Japanese cucumber). Drizzled with spicy Sichuan sauce. I can eat one plate all by myself.


Steamed Pork Dumpling 小笼包, S$9 (10pcs) / S$6.50 (6pcs)
Steamed Pork Dumpling 小笼包, S$9 (10pcs) / S$6.50 (6pcs)
The signature xiao long bao. Somehow they tasted extra good, after our humbling experience. I was never too crazy about xiao long bao previously, but I now have a renewed reverence for these little snacks. 


A good dumpling should be soft yet resilient. You should be able to see the soup within!
The test of a good dumpling. You should be able to hold it up and jiggle it without the skin breaking. And yet the skin should be delicate enough so you can see the soup inside.


Fried Rice with Shrimp & Egg 虾仁蛋饭, S$10.00
Fried Rice with Shrimp & Egg 虾仁蛋饭, S$10.00
They pride themselves on fried rice with "wok hei", with generous egg coating every grain. I think the short grain variety they use makes it a bit more starchy than I like though. And the wok hei was a bit too subtle for me (yes, it's me, I like my wok hei absolutely roaring!)


Stir-fried Nai Bai with Garlic 蒜炒奶白, S$12.00
Stir-fried Nai Bai with Garlic 蒜炒奶白, S$12.00
This was pretty well-executed, and those around me who do like nai bai seemed to think well of it. I hate xiao bai chye, so I didn't dare try beyond a small piece. Seasoning was light and nice, but the vegetable is still too close to all forms of bok choy for me!


Steamed Chilli Crab and Pork Bun 辣蟹鲜肉包, S$3.80 (3pcs)
Steamed Chilli Crab and Pork Bun 辣蟹鲜肉包, S$3.80 (3pcs)
A nod to local chili crab. DTF used to have chili crab xiao long bao a couple years back, which proved very popular. So they brought it back in the form of a palm-sized bun. I like that the filling is generous, and the skin is thin. Flavour reminds me of otah though.


Fragrant Peanut Dumplings 雪圆, S$6.80 (6pcs)
Fragrant Peanut Dumplings 雪圆, S$6.80 (6pcs)
White onde-onde with peanuts? Glutinous rice flour skin coated with shredded coconut, carrying a dollop of sweetened chopped peanuts within. Pleasant but maybe a tad pricey.


Sago with Ice & Sweet Coconut Sauce 椰汁西米露, S$3.50
Sago with Ice & Sweet Coconut Sauce 椰汁西米露, S$3.50
Now this is a huge cup! Lots of sago, coconut cream and gula melaka. Really, you need little else to make a heavenly dessert.

OK, so I did mention vouchers in the title. Yes, I have two S$10 vouchers to give out (they are valid til 31 July at all DTF outlets). This time, I am going to pick two random winners (via automatic generator). So there is no first-come-first-serve rush and more people can participate. Just leave a comment below (I will not count multiple entries). You have until 11.59pm of Thursday, 10 June 2010. I will update the post with the winners, so check back here. Good luck!

UPDATE (wee hours, 11 June): Here are the two winners, picked via Random.org! No.35 (Sweeter Side of Life, who has a pretty nice baking blog) and No.11 (Winelearner). Congratulations to both, and thank you all for taking part! Winners, please email me your snail mail address, so I can send you the voucher. Wish I had more to give away, this was fun! I'm also curious who Kaldorei is - must be a WoW player? :) Ah such nostalgia, Kaldorei Spider Kebobs...


Many thanks to Din Tai Fung and Sixth Sense Communications for organising this eye-opening workshop, for lunch and for the vouchers.


DIN TAI FUNG
Outlets at Raffles Place, Junction 8 Bishan, Paragon, Tampines Mall, Wisma Atria, Jurong Point, and most recently 313@Somerset (where this event was held). Check latest outlet details on their website.
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57 comments

  1. The sago gave me goose pimples!

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  2. Pick me for the $10 voucher!!! Cos I want to eat Xiao Long Bao and Dan Dan Mian and Zhu Pa Chao Fan!!!!!!!!!

    Jamie

    @P_jamie

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  3. Ding Tai Fung is goood!

    @jielun11 on twitter

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  4. Nice photos as usual! After reading this, I'm so going to try out the new dishes with my family!

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  5. The Sago with Ice & Sweet Coconut Sauce looks really delicious, like what I would to have on a really hot day. Will try this the next time I'm at DTF. Never knew they had this item on the menu!

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  6. Helo Catherine, if I could be so lucky...

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  7. DTF is one of my favourite restaurants! I could take on 20 XLB in one sitting, plus other dishes. I like the hot and sour soup, the red bean dumplings(this is must-try! the filling is really decadent and the rice is fragrant) and the soup used for the braised beef la mian.

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  8. i want to have a taste of that chilli crab and pork bun!

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  9. Nice review. Never really eaten at Ding Tai Fung. How is it compared to the original ones at Taiwan. I heard from my Army buddies "no fight". Lol.

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  10. Try my luck..:)

    rgds
    Winelearner

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  11. Hi Catherine,

    Wish me luck! Thanks!

    Mel

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  12. I Wish to win this voucher. thanks

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  13. Sago with Ice & Sweet Coconut Sauce - I so wanna try. Maybe I should WIN the voucher?

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  14. i went to DTF 2 weeks ago and wanted to order the Steamed Chilli Crab and Pork Bun 辣蟹鲜肉包... but it wasn't on the menu? Where can i go try it?

    so.... i'll need the voucher on my next visit! Let me win plssssss!!!

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  15. ooo... i love DTF's XLB and i so want the vouchers too!

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  16. Ne...e....eeed Y...u...mmmmmmy foo..ood Vo..ucheeers!!!!

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  17. i only tried taipei din tai fung.. singapore ones tried yet.

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  18. me want the sago >.< me want the voucher :D

    -Elis-

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  19. the prawn fried rice is one of fav fried rice around =)

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  20. ExtraTerrestrialJune 10, 2010 at 2:35 PM

    Sago dessert @@ ET wants!!!!

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  21. I'm in for the voucher contest! after going on a xlb hunt, I still find the ones at Ding Tai Fung better, and the chilli crab xlb are quite ingenious! I was surprised that DTF is able to bring out the flavour of the chilli gravy without losing the usual feel of having an xlb.

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  22. Wow the chili crab bun looks good! Will try soon!

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  23. Hi Camemberu! I've nv dined at DTF but I heard abt e famous XLB. Aft readin ur post, u had tempted mi 2 order all e nice dishes u mentioned here :) I hope I can win e vouchers so I can bring my family there 2 celebrate Father's Day nx wk n eat more there lol.

    @babe_selina in Twitter

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  24. Hi Camemberu, I'm very new to Singapore and have already been to DTF numerous times. My mom is coming to visit from the US next month and without question, I'll be taking her to DTF for dinner one eventing. If I won the $10 voucher, it would make her experience here that much more enjoyable so I can spoil her silly with scrumptious xiao long bao.

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  25. woah .... i am drooling over the xiao long bao

    the $10 voucher will come handy :)

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  26. Should never have read this when I was already hungry. Sad now. Needs vouchers. :p

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  27. Hope i will be the lucky one! :D

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  28. Love the xiao long bao at din tai fung

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  29. I hope to get the voucher too =)
    so that I can order more of their dumplings to eat!

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  30. All that effort just to make xlbs pretty!

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  31. Xiao Long Bao~!! =D

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  32. awww..i so wana let the xiao long bao swim in my mouth!

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  33. just had my dinner - yes, at this hour -but i'm hungry again!

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  34. Had my 1st ever XLB at dtf =) Pick meeee!!!!

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  35. Hope i will be the lucky one! Yeah...

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  36. i love dtf's food! :)

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  37. I love the Fried Rice with Shrimp & Egg at DTF! =D

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  38. I absolutely enjoy the xiao long bao at DTF! Didnt know that each has 18 pleats till I read ur post :)

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  39. Didn't expect preparing XLB to be sooooo much work! Appreciate it alot more now!

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  40. I love cooking, and i know making XLB is not easy. i tried making normal pau and the pleats are already so difficult!

    I love the chicken soup from DTF, now that i am married and moved out, I don't get to drink home-brewed chicken soup by mum!

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  41. i have never been lucky in such giveaways.. but oh wells, here goes

    Jo

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  42. I love the XLB!! hope I can win the vouchers!!=)

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  43. Now I'm really craving for DTF's Xiao Long Baos. I like the chilli vinegar dumplings too.

    Anyways, who won? I'm too late for the draw.

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  44. Thank you all for taking part! Winners have been picked - they are no.35 and no.11, and the post has been updated with the details.

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  45. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  46. Wow, this random number generator is really cool. I am book marking it.

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  47. Oh the XLB's look so cute when they are tightly wound before steaming. I guess I know where I'm having dinner tomorrow night. Let's see the Gardens outlet or Pavilion? Hmm, decisions, decisions...

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  48. Great, I am happy for them. I hadn't ever won something. Maybe in the future I'l have more luck.

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