|Chinese dumplings before boiling|
I cannot wait to talk about this – Really – Important dish, whose influence in Chinese culture can never be overlooked or underestimated. I used to think that dumplings only existed in Chinese cuisine, probably because they carry such special meaning for (say Northeast) Chinese people. But then, I realized how shallow I was :), Dumplings are also part of Japanese, Korean, and even Russian cuisine (although the look and the taste is totally different).
How could I explain how special dumplings are in China and for Chinese people all over the World – if you could have the chance to visit a Chinese household during Chinese New Year Eve, you would see that most families are preparing dumplings… and watching the same New Year television program :)); or when we have friends over, making dumplings just shows a very warm welcome . Here, in UK, when Chinese friends gather for dinner, it is very common to prepare dumplings together – while some prepare the pastries, the others are wrapping them up….
And me, I never forget the time I was there trying to help my parents and grandparents preparing dumplings, I was only five probably, trying to hold the rolling pin to make the pastry, and hated that my left and right hands did not coordinate well —- So on top of every cultural facts, it really is a family thing. I remember that after I became an ‘expert’ on making the pastry, my mum would call all of us come to the kitchen to help after she had prepared the fillings and flour dough already; then, we would all be around the table chatting and making dumplings.
Preparing Chinese Dumplings
Sorry, enough about my sentimental attachment towards it, let’s talk about Chinese dumplings. A basic description of a dumpling: it is a round ‘flour’ made pastry wrap with fillings inside. Fillings can be made of meat or vegetables, or seafood, (hundreds of different fillings), then they can be boiled with water, light fried with oil, or steamed. However, the most popular form of preparation in China is to boil them. I used to have this friend one day asked me, “I heard that you Chinese BOIL dumplings with water, is that true?” I laughed and convinced him by cooking for him once. Different ways of cooking normally require a little bit different ways of preparing the dough.
Dumplings can be easily found in most restaurants in Northeast of China, don’t even mention there are lots of restaurants specialized on dumplings. And their prices are very very reasonable, it does not add up your daily expenses at all:)). However, dumplings are not that easy to find the in the UK. You can find them frozen in Chinese supermarkets (ok for a quick fix, with limited options), or in Japanese restaurants (but they are a bit too expensive comparably). Hey, but after the next 3 posts, probably you might have them fresh at home :)))) And… most importantly, you will feel the joy of making them.
Next, how to make the pastry.