Soupy goodness in Sichuan dumplings

  • Eat And Drink
  • Monday, 19 Nov 2018

Tan with LeTen’s star product — the ‘xiao long bao’.

A WEEK has gone by since our meal of xiao long bao at a restaurant in Sepang, but the flavours are still fresh on our palates.

Those soup-filled dough parcels at Paradise Group’s first Chinese Muslim restaurant — LeTen — had us at first bite.

Texture wise, the skin, though flimsy in appearance, had a mouthfeel reminiscent of hand-pulled noodles. However, the dumplings yielded easily enough to release a gush of seasoned chicken broth into my mouth.

The big question is, how do they put the soup in the dumpling?

LeTen’s head chef Tan Chun Keat, who started working for the group in his early 20s as a steamer, said it begins by slow boiling a whole chicken for eight hours. Once done, the stock is left to cool and then refrigerated.

The result is a gelatinous mass that is cut into cubes and added into the meat filling, a mixture of minced chicken thigh and skin.

When it is steamed, the cubes melt into a liquid and combines with the meat juices to produce a flavourful soup.

The xiao long bao comes in various flavours with minced chicken as a primary ingredient, including sambal, black truffle and mozzarella. Not only are the skins made in-house, natural colouring from squid ink, yellow bean and red rice is used to give the skins different hues.

Tan has also created a chocolate version of the xiao long bao for dessert.

Filled with milk and dark chocolate with an 80% cocoa content, biting into these parcels is likened to having a lava of warm melted chocolate bursting in the mouth.

We also liked the prawn and chicken dumpling bathed in a hot chilli vinaigrette.

Tantalising our taste buds is the black vinegar sauce, which gets its kick from LeTen’s hot sauce using Sichuan dried chillies as an essential ingredient.

For maximum flavour, the oil is soaked in green pepper and Chinese herbs and perfumed with ginger, celery and carrot.

The dumplings have a solid filling of minced chicken, whole prawns and wood ear (a type of mushroom). The sea prawns have a firm, crunchy bite and this is because Tan soaks them in salt water.

The fiery Sichuan red chillies also lend their flavour to a crispy chicken dish.

Deep fried and served on a bed of roasted dried red peppers with sliced garlic, peanuts and spring onion stalks, the potent spiciness of the dried chillies imparts an earthy, nutty flavour to the meat. You may feel a slight tingle as you tuck into the chicken pieces. It is this sensation that gives the dish its addictive quality.

The crisp fried fish skin tossed in salted egg yolk is another bestseller. For this dish, the skin of shark catfish is dipped into a batter of salted egg and air fried.

An ideal combination with this dish are the lettuce rolls, fresh green crunchy bundles fastened with a kyuri cucumber ribbon. A roasted sesame mayonnaise acts as a dip.

If ordering rice, consider pairing it with the poached Chinese spinach. This vegetable dish comes in a superior chicken stock and is enriched with minced chicken and three types of egg — salted, chicken and century.

It is a classic combination of the steamed three-egg dish and spinach soup.

LeTen also has good noodle dishes. The seafood wantan hor or Cantonese-style flat rice noodles has good smoky flavour while the gravy glided like silk across our tongues.

Tan said the smoky characteristic of the noodles is the result of a deft stir-fry atop a hot wok at 140°C. This gives the noodles a slightly crisp outer layer and a melt-in-your-mouth texture.

For a spicier option, try the Thai-style Stir Fried Vermicelli with Seafood where the noodles are flavoured with their homemade tom yam sauce for a heady taste. LETEN, F-60A, Mitsui Outlet Park, KLIA, Sepang, Selangor. (Tel: 03-8660 2388). Business hours: 10am to 10pm.

This is the writer’s personal observation and not an endorsement by StarMetro.

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