Ahh dim sum. I can’t think of any other food ritual that is as addicting and pleasurable. Justin and I were in San Francisco back in August, visiting our friends Kexin and Rob. Kexin, originally from Beijing, is a serious eater. One morning during our trip, she took us to a dim sum institution in the Bay. Although I have had “Lo Mai Gai” before, this time I was so impressed with not only the presentation, but the flavor. I was inspired enough to actually try to make it myself. Before I go into the recipe, which I found via Pinterest from Woks of Life, I want to just say that purchasing lotus leaves is no joke. Luckily I found them at Vien Dong, a Southeast Asian grocery I frequent. The lotus leaves in scale are massive. Since they are imported from china, and dried, you are required to soak them for an hour prior to using them.
There is something very exciting and beautiful about wrapping things in leaves. Leaf wrapping is also something I believe defines this Native aesthetic I am really drawn to. Polynesians use taro leaves to grill their fish and steam their pork. Filipinos use banana leaves for their bibingka. In parts of Mexico, particularly Oaxaca, banana leaves are used to wrap tamales. I wanted to make this Chinese recipe because I wanted to wrap. Of course, most things wrapped in leaves involve a process and Lo Mai Gai was no exception.