Steamed beef rice rolls are a highlight of dim sum. The trickiest part of the dish is perfecting the beef mixture. It has to be thin enough to steam within the same time frame as the rice noodle, yet there has to be enough of it to fill the whole piece. This recipe helps you achieve both. The soft texture, flavorful filling and sweet soy drizzle makes it the ideal dish for a crowd--both young and old.
For the rice noodles and dipping sauce: Whisk the rice flour and tapioca starch in a medium bowl. Slowly add 1 1/2 cups room temperature water, whisking continuously, until a smooth yet loose mixture forms. Try to break up any little lumps and be sure to mix in any flour on the sides of the bowl. Let sit for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the soy sauce, sugar and 1 tablespoon water in a small saucepan over low heat, whisking occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved, about 2 minutes. Stir in the sesame oil. Set aside.
For the beef filling: Add the beef, cornstarch, scallion, soy sauce, sesame oil, baking soda, sugar, white pepper and 2 tablespoons cold water to a food processor. Process on low, stopping to scrape down the sides from time to time, until the mixture is pale pink with a gummy texture, about 2 minutes. Generously oil your hands and scoop out a heaping teaspoon of the beef mixture. Flatten in your palms to form a 3-inch piece of beef filling. Lay on a greased plate. Repeat to make 10 pieces.
Set a steamer rack in a large wok or wide pot and fill with water up to the rack, about 2 inches. Bring to a full boil over high heat with the lid on.
Generously grease two 8-inch nonstick round metal cake pans with vegetable oil, about 2 teaspoons. Set one aside. Give the batter a nice whisk to make sure it is fully combined. You will have to do this each time before making a batch. Pour 1/4 cup of batter into the prepared cake pan. It will not fully coat the bottom of the pan.
Adjust the heat under the wok to medium high, carefully remove the lid and place the pan on the rack. Cover and let steam for 15 seconds. Remove the lid again and move the pan around to try to coat the bottom as much as possible; the batter should be slightly set but still loose enough to flow. Cover again and let steam for another 15 seconds. Remove the lid, lay 2 pieces of the beef filling directly in the center, creating a line down the middle. Let steam for another 90 seconds. Remove the lid and, using oven mitts, remove the pan to a trivet. Let sit for 30 seconds.
Using a silicone or plastic bench scraper or spatula, cut the rice noodle in half, creating 2 semicircles with a piece of beef filling on each side. Focusing on one rice noodle semicircle at a time, gently fold over one of the sides to cover the beef completely. Fold the remaining side directly on top, tucking the flap under the roll to hide the seam. Repeat with the remaining semicircle. Carefully transfer to a dinner plate. Repeat with the reserved prepared cake pan
Continue with the remaining batter and beef filling, whisking the batter each time and using a clean paper towel to wipe down the pans before greasing them with vegetable oil. Otherwise, any residual batter could cause a rip. Drizzle half of the sweet soy mixture all over the rolls and serve the rest on the side.
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