We started class this week with chrysanthemum tea, a popular drink in Chinese culture. The first neighborhood we discussed this session was San Francisco’s Chinatown, the oldest Chinatown in North America. We talked about the role Chinese immigrants played in building the First Transcontinental Railroad, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, and the history of dim sum, which dates back to tenth-century tea houses along the Silk Road.
Students worked with a yeast dough that we had proofed in the fridge overnight, filled it with a sweet paste made from adzuki beans, and then steamed the buns in bamboo steamers. While we waited for the buns to cook, we made a smashed cucumber salad as a savory accompaniment to our meal. Smashing the cucumbers using rolling pins was a great way to get out our early-morning energy and created lots of nooks and crannies for the dressing to find, compounding the delicious flavor. Each class made the salad for the next day’s students, allowing the flavors to marinate and grow bolder overnight.