Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Chinese make dumplings

Dumplings. These are Chinese people's (or perhaps just my family's) answer to watching sports together, or going sailing with the family, or picking lice off each others backs. Making and eating dumplings is a session of bonding that is vital to the dynamics of the family; without dumplings, the core of the family is disrupted and we will be reduced to awkward strangers waving to each other from across the hallway.

making dumplings

Today's dumpling session was made that much more exciting by D's fascinating choice of a Chinese audiobook called, simply, "Second Marriage". Every now and then it would hit us with gems such as:

"How you let child get beaten like this? Child only seventeen, he is like bread, with many air spaces..." followed shortly by, "What he love is you, not child."

This sad and controversial tale led to discourse in the kitchen:

M: Don't want to hear anymore. Westerners are like this? Westerners not so complicated.
J: No, westerners more or less like this.
D: More or less, more or less, ai ya, people are same, people are people.

D is wise, D is very wise.

Anyways, back to dumplings. How does one make dumplings? It's a simply process, although not something you make and eat on your own. That would be like barbecuing exclusively for yourself, and only very lonely people do that. No, dumplings bring to mind a gathering of people, socializing with floury hands amidst the sound of sizzling of fried dough, burning their tongues on the hot savory fillings, accompanied by the smell of dipping vinegar.

The concept of dumpling is so successful because it takes advantage of the winning concept that is: STUFF WRAPPED IN STUFF. Now, this paradigm of tastiness is worth its own post, as I'm sure daintydog can tell you all about. Food is always better when it comes with a filling.

meat and vegThe basic premise of dumpling filling is simple: pork and vegetables. Today we used celery (M: Celery too old to eat on its own but if you boil, very tasty in dumplings.)

Then you spice that up with the dynamic duo of Chinese cooking:

soy sauce and rice wineSoy sauce and rice wine. Put that in anything and you'll get instant Chinese. For example:
Quiche + soy sauce + rice wine = China-pie.
Now, mix up that filling, preferably with chopsticks for authentic flavor.

Then, prepare the dough. The dough consists of flour and water, at a ratio that should be intuitive to any housewife, until the dough separates from the surface of the bowl. Leave that alone for about half an hour to set.

This is the part in cooking books that I absolutely hate. This is the crafty, origami shit that takes too many words to explain, and requires too much thinking to make sense of. All I can say is: grab your nearest Chinese and ask for help. Then release. Then repeat, etc. The basic idea is that you end up wrapping a dollop of filling in a thin circular sheet of dough. Try to visualize:

dough and filling
And this is how they'll end up looking, if you're skilled enough:

dumplings raw
At this point you either throw them into a pot of boiling water, or sizzle them golden in a frying pan. Today we opted for the latter:

dumplings potstickers
And finally, to complete the story, this is what I see when I eat:

eating dumplings


  1. Yumm! Those dumplings look so tasty, mmmmmm. Must attempt these in the near future. The near future being now! Arrrhhhhg! *sets to work*