So if someone writes a cookbook you’d expect them to have a culinary background, right? Well as one so-called politician likes to say, “WRONG!”. Evelyn Chau’s professional background includes a long list of top TV, radio and print media companies including the CBC, Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, EnRoute, Chatelaine, and Hemispheres.
After working at these companies she started interpreting and again landed roles in big companies and it was around this time that she wrote “Have Some Dim Sum“ to introduce this delightful Chinese brunch to people who want to get deeper into the world of dim sum.
I understand that you’re re-launching this book, when was it first released?
The book was published in 1998.
Is there anything new in this version as compared to the first?
It’s the same book, but because I’m more interested in healthful eating, I now make them with new elements such as sprouted black lentils, kale, buffalo and venison when I demo.
It’s obvious that dim sum means a lot to you since you wrote a book about it. What does it mean to you and why did you decide to write this cookbook?
I grew up having Sunday dim sum with my entire clan. This was when we caught up on family news and the brunch would last two to three hours. I think when I first picked up sesame seeds with chopsticks, it was at a dim sum place. So, lots of good memories. I wrote the book because a Canadian colleague of mine and I wanted to give people a detailed guide to this 1,200 year old tradition.
Where did the recipes come from?
I went to one of the top dim sum places in Toronto and interviewed their chef over many days. He’d sit with me after lunch and we’d talk and talk.
How easy or difficult are these recipes?
They are fairly easy recipes. My guideline was that people shouldn’t have to buy expensive kitchen utensils to make these.
If you could cook and serve dim sum for one person, dead or alive, who would it be?
I’d like to make dim sum for the five shamans I met at a retreat in Peru.
Why are you re-launching your book on Valentine’s Day? Whats the connection between that day and dim sum?
Since Dim Sum translates to “touch the heart” I thought it’d be a good idea to re-launch it on February 14th. Hand-made things are all the rage now that so much has been digitized, so taking the time to make dim sum for your loved one would be appreciated. (It’s just as good to make them for birthdays, anniversaries and Mom’s Day!)
For someone who has never made dim sum before, what would you say to them so that they’re not intimidated by what they’re going to do?
For those who have not made dim sum before, I suggest getting kids involved and not taking it as seriously. It’s just about getting a bowl of seasoned meat or veggies and wrapping them in interesting shapes. My book has some DIY diagrams that are simple and fun. Once, my nieces made flying saucers with 2 round dumpling sheets and we really enjoyed them!
What’s your favorite item to order when you go to a dim sum restaurant?
My favourite things to order depends on my mood, but here are some that always bring joy:
* Ha Gow (steamed shrimp dumplings)
* Siu Long Bao (Northern Chinese steamed dumplings with a very juicy meat filling)
* Daikon squares (grated daikon studded with diced, cured meats steamed then pan-fried)
What are your top 3 favorite places to eat and why?
There are many but here are the 3 absolute favourites, in no order: 1) The Pearl at Harbourfront Centre, the dim sum is consistently good, the view of the lake is beautiful all year and also, this is a sentimental pick because my friends and I always celebrate Chinese New Year there. 2) Bannock because it elevates simple dishes to a new height, adds creativity to old favourites, has warm, knowledgeable servers and the food is always superb. 3) Lee Garden because it has been outstanding for years and still is. Their food has great “wok energy” and they were MSG free before anyone else. I love their steamed black cod in black bean sauce, among many others.
What advice would you give someone planning to write their first book?
My advice for someone writing their first book is to write out the “Why” of the book and research both the topic and the market thoroughly.
My last question is, what’s next for Evelyn Chau?
I did a food trivia game for serious food lovers which has over 700 questions in five categories. My next step is to find the right media outlet for it.
I want to thank Evelyn for taking the time to answer my questions and also for providing me two signed copies of “Have Some Dim Sum” to use in this give away.
Disclosure: I was not compensated monetarily for this post. The author did provide me two signed copies of her cookbook for me to use in the giveaway.