Dumplings Three Ways

My little Chinese friend has given me a lesson in making dumplings but today I went along with my lovely French neighbour to a cooking school to refresh my memory.

We met at the teacher's house which was in a hutong and started the morning with a tea ceremony. The temperature didn't get over 7 degrees today so the tea was a great way to warm us up. Having a cup of tea in China is not just like having a cup of tea, it is a real ritual, there is the washing of the cups, then the washing of the tea and then eventually you get a tiny dish like cup of tea which holds a mouthful or two. You drink that then on the ceremony goes.

We then walked to the local market to see what we could learn and to buy our ingredients for today's cooking class.

I never would have guessed this is what Water Chestnuts looked like....

We were given a quick lesson in the best way to cook silk worms. They are a great snack apparently so if you are wanting to cook them up they are best deep fried or put them on a skewer and barbeque them.

"They are very nice", the teacher said, "Look at their smiling faces, can you see?"

They say with Chinese cooking you only need 2 chopsticks and a cleaver so when we got back to the hutong we were given a quick lesson in using the cleaver, then we were very busy, making dough, chopping and mixing ingredients. We were told to only mix in one direction so that the ingredients learnt to stick together and of course you use chop sticks to mix.

We made three different types of dumplings, Beef with Onion, Egg with Chives and Pork with Cabbage and learnt three different ways of sealing them. There is a real knack to getting just the right amount of filling then sealing them so they look like little works of art. Let's just say we improved as the day went on but there was one stage when the teacher went out of the room and I looked across at my friend and she was holding this dumpling with filling oozing out everywhere.

She said to me in this beautiful French accent, "What am I to do, I want to hide it somewhere".

We both went in to hysterics and I said, "Give it to the dog", and then we laughed even more.

That's right there was a true, live, big, fluffy dog sitting under the kitchen table.

The teacher then came back in to the kitchen, took one look at the dumpling, burst out laughing and said,

"It not beautiful but it still taste same".

We then cooked the dumplings three different ways, some we boiled, some we steamed and the rest we fried then finished them off by steaming.

We were proud of our efforts and ate them with a chinese potato salad which is potato lightly cooked and tossed in rice vinegar and chilli.

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