An award-winning cookbook author and chef who was born and raised in San Francisco’s Chinatown, she eventually built a broad expertise in the cuisines of Southeast Asia. Her busy and delicious presentation included five dishes, starting with krupuk, or shrimp chips, an Indonesian-style snack.
She designs her recipes these days for the food processor. “I have to admit, hand chopping is better,” she says, but the food processor makes it so much easier. While she demonstrated five recipes, she suggests creating menus with just one at a time.
She began with siu mai, the classic “basket” dumpling with shrimp and pork, which she calls a litmus test for any restaurant. “If it’s lousy siu mai, the rest will be bad,” she says.
As she molded her dumplings, Chef Joyce talked about soy sauce and the importance for these recipes of using a Chinese, not Japanese, brand. And sesame oil, a finishing oil rather than a cooking oil, should be Asian-style because it has a more robust aroma.
The siu mai was paired with Emperor’s White Tea, a rare and delicate tea, from The Republic of Tea. Two other dishes included tea pairings: Tea of Inquiry, a green tea with fire-toasted rice, with the Chicken & Spinach Potstickers, and Keemun 1110 tea, a black tea, with Mom’s Midnight Noodles.
For the Shrimp Toast, Chef Joyce emphasizes drying the shrimp to avoid a soggy outcome. She uses a French baguette, uncommon in Chinese cooking, and tops the toast with prosciutto for flavor.
The “Skinny” Cilantro Shrimp Rolls are wok-fried as opposed to the dumplings, which are steamed in a basket. Her top tip: make sure they’re rolled snug and tight to hold their shape in the wok.
Chef Joyce barely took a breath before she making potstickers, followed by Mom’s Midnight Noodles, a treat her family enjoyed late at night after a movie. As she buzzed through her recipes, the Fresh Starts Culinary Academy crew bustled behind the scenes to make the dishes served family-style for guests.
“I don’t normally love feeding 80 to 90 people, but these students are cooking up a storm,” she said.
Although the recipe looked daunting, her noodle dish comes together relatively quickly. Chef Joyce says her mother salted the oil before cooking, giving it a roasted flavor. She emphasized cooks need to practice the proper technique for stir-frying — scoop and turn, not stir, the ingredients.
After a light dessert of matcha green tea ice cream, served with fruit and sesame chip alongside, guests barely scooped themselves from their chairs and turned out the door. — Contributed by Carol Inkellis with photos by Neely Wang.
Skinny Cilantro Chicken Rolls – Makes about 24 rolls
2 green onions, white section only, cut into 1-inch pieces
8 fresh water chestnuts, peeled and quartered
1 pound shelled and deveined medium shrimp
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
½ teaspoon grated fresh peeled ginger
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar
4 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro plus 24 cilantro sprigs
24 square (6-inch) spring roll wrappers (Menlo Brand, Wei-Chuan or TYJ)
Peanut or corn oil for frying
Turn on the machine and drop the green onions down the feedtube; process into a mince. Add the fresh water chestnuts; pulse a few times to chop.
Add the shrimp and cornstarch; process into a coarse chop about the size of petite peas; about 10 seconds.
In a small bowl, mix together the rice wine, ginger, salt, and sugar; add to the shrimp mixture and pulse several times to mix thoroughly. Pulse the chopped cilantro to incorporate with the shrimp mixture. Ideally, refrigerate mixture for 1 hour. (The filling can be frozen for a few weeks.)
Carefully peel off 1 spring roll wrapper from the stack. Lay it on a flat work surface with one corner pointing at you like a baseball diamond. Spread 1 heaping tablespoon of the filling across the bottom third of the wrapper. You want to leave both ends of the wrapper without filling – about a ¾ -inch clean margin in two opposite corners.
Use a spatula to mold the filling into a 4½-inch skinny ‘log.’ Spread a sprig of cilantro across the filling. Now bring the corner nearest you up and over the mixture. Roll up one turn and tuck in the filling to create a long snug log.
Now fold in both the right and left corners toward the middle to enclose the ends. With half the wrapper now used, shape the wrapper around the filling to keep it taut. Brush the exposed top corner with the beaten egg or water. Roll up away from you to finish and form a 5-inch long skinny cylinder, about 3/4-inch in diameter. As you make them place the rolls on a baking sheet flap side down. Keep covered.
Add oil to a preheated wok or deep frying pan to a depth of 2 inches. Heat to 365º F. Add the rolls and deep fry for 4 to 5 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and drain on a wire rack or paper towels.
To serve: For dipping, serve with a small portion of Chinese Plum Sauce or Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce (Mae Ploy brand).
NOTE: You can freeze the cool fried rolls. To reheat, do not thaw. Set the rolls on a cookie sheet and bake in a hot 375° F oven for 5 to 8 minutes.