Dim sum, naturally


Before opening Yum Cha Dim Sum Parlor in Chicago, Chef Rodelio Aglibot worked on perfecting authentic Chinese recipes, making a conscious effort to minimize the monosodium glutamate (MSG) prevalent in Chinese-American restaurant dishes. Over the years, MSG has developed a negative public perception, and a number of Aglibot’s customers expressed a sensitivity to the substance. He started by eliminating MSG from the dim sum, substituting more natural flavor enhancers in the dumpling fillings. Ground dried shrimp, for example, contributes the umami, or savory, taste of MSG to pork-and-shrimp-filled shu mai.  He also lightens the shu mai filling by aerating it with an electric mixer. “This gives the mixture greater volume and an airy texture, making it more like a mousse than a meatball,” Aglibot says, “and making it more authentically Chinese.”

Yum Cha's Shu Mai

Aglibot roasts sun-dried shrimp, a popular Asian product,  in a 300-degree oven, then pulverizes it in a blender. “The shrimp dust intensifies the fresh shrimp flavor in the filling,” he says. Pork, ginger, garlic, sesame oil, sugar and soy sauce also are added. The combined ingredients, says Aglibot, eliminate the need for both MSG and the chicken base previously used.

Smart swaps

Instead of...Try this...
MSGDried shrimp dust
Chicken baseSoy sauce
Stirring filling with spoonBeating filling in mixer to aerate



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