Sunday, February 10, 2008

Dumpling time!

Right now is Beijing time the morning of the 5th day of the Chinese New Year. In my city, we eat certain food on a certain day during the 15 days of Chinese New Year. And the most important days are the New Year's Eve, New Year's Day, 2nd day, 5th day, and 15th day. Every Chinese person will try their best to go back home, spend the new year's eve with their family. We make dumplings together, and cook a table full of delicious food. And we have to boil the dumplings and eat them at exactly midnight. And of course, there are the fireworks, and new years parties on TV. On the New Year's Day, people normally stay at their parents house, and if you are married, you should stay with your husband's family. Then on the 2nd day, the young couple will visit the wife's parents, with hand full of yummy cookies and deserts, and lots of fruits, especially oranges. Normally the wife and kid will wear some red clothes, traditional or not. And all the husbands want to impress the in-laws, they all call the taxi. So, you will be very lucky to be able to grab a taxi on that day. This is so funny, we call it "son-in-law's Day". And the 5th day is very special too. We make dumpling again, but this time, you are not supposed to use food processor. You have to chop the vegetable and meat by hand, and everyone in the house should do it, at least the adults. You knot those Chinese knifes are huge, and heavy sometimes, not safe for kids to handle. The meaning of this is you are actually chopping up all the 'bad people' you are going to meet in this entire year who's going to bad mouth you and stopping you from reaching your goals. Since none of us want to deal with those type of people, we all participate. And you also should use a stick to hold a rope of firecrackers, light it up, and swing it around you, so you also kill those 'bad people' from all directions. For more about Chinese New Year, read this:
Enough with the culture education, I just want to tell you that I made dumpling for dinner today. If you love dill, you should try this.
The stuffing are a mix of finely chopped dill, some scallion, ground pork, (you can use any meat you like), and a couple of egg. Then I added Chinese cooking wine, soy sauce, dark soy sauce, five-spice powder, chicken stock, and sesame oil.
The dough is very easy to make too. Just mix all purpose flour with water. That's it. But you should make the dough harder, and the more elastic the dough is, the better the dumpling will taste. You take a piece of the dough, roll it into a rope shape, and cut into smaller piece with a knife. Press a small piece of the dough into a pancake shape, then roll it out with a rolling pin. Now you got a dumpling skin.
Hold it with one hand, put some stuffing in the center, fold and press the two side together. Now one side at a time, pinch about 1/3 of the opening together, then the rest. Ta-dah! You just made a dumpling. See, not hard at all.
To cook it, heat half pot of water to a boil, and put in your dumplings. Be careful, don't splash yourself. Then use a spoon or some other utensil gently push the dumplings around, don't let any of it stick to the bottom. If some dumplings leaked for whatever reason, don't worry about it. You now have not only dumpling, you also have the dumpling soup, very good. =) When the water come back to a boil, add a cup of cold water. do this twice. I was told this will make the dumpling's skin taste better.

You can buy those dumpling sauce from Chinese town, but I prefer dark Chinese vinegar. The one in the last picture is my all time favorite. Now, sit down and enjoy. Yum!! Wish you can taste it too.

Happy New Year everyone!

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