''These stuffed mushrooms are a most popular dim sum, one that is always available in the dim sum restaurants and teahouses, or can be easily made at home,'' writes cookbook author Eileen Yin-Fei Lo. ''To the Chinese, the mushroom, when it is used to hold this shrimp filling, resembles a small, open flower. Thus its name, Bok Far, which translates as 'a hundred flowers.' Because of the wonderful tastes of both mushrooms and fillings, I suggest that no accompaniment be used with these.''
12 Chinese black mushrooms, steamed (available at a Chinese food market, or substitute large white button mushrooms, often called ''stuffing mushrooms'')
Tapioca flour for dusting (also called tapioca starch)
1/2 Basic Shrimp Filling (see recipe below)
Vegetable leaves (lettuce or cabbage)
1 cup chicken broth
In the cavity of each mushroom, sprinkle tapioca flour to bind the filling to the mushroom. Pack each mushroom with 1 to 1-1/2 tablespoons of the filling. With your finger, smooth the filling and gently press it down to make certain it will not fall out.
Line a steamer with vegetable leaves. Place stuffed mushrooms, filled sides up, in the steamer. Steam 4 to 6 minutes or until the shrimp turns pink.
Douse stuffed mushrooms in one cup hot chicken broth and serve immediately.
Makes 12 stuffed mushrooms.
Note: The mushrooms also may be pan-fried in 3 tablespoons peanut oil in a cast-iron skillet, until the filling and mushrooms brown, 3 minutes on the filled side, 2 minutes on the other.
The mushrooms cannot be frozen. They will keep, after cooking, for 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator. To reheat, steam for 3 to 4 minutes, or pan-fry 2 to 3 minutes, until hot.
BASIC SHRIMP FILLING
''This is a classic filling used in a variety of teahouse dim sum. When thoroughly blended and allowed to stand, it acquires an elegant and delicate taste that complements other foods perfectly. It can be served as an hors d'oeuvre or as a first course.''
1 pound shrimp, shelled, deveined, washed, dried, and quartered (yielding 14 ounces)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup bamboo shoots, cut into 1/8-inch dice
2 scallions, ends discarded, finely sliced
1 egg white, beaten
2 teaspoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
Pinch of white pepper
Place shrimp and all other ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix for about 5 minutes until well blended.
Place mixture in a shallow dish and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. (It is much easier to stuff dim sum when the mixture is cold.)