Tuesday, June 3, 2014

One Dumpling, Two Dumpling, Three Dumpling, Four.

I am on my way to becoming a dumpling master. On May 24th, Christina, Brittany, and I joined a class at Hutong Cuisine to try our hand at dumpling making. 

I love cooking. LOVE. For some people I know it's a stressful, anxiety-inducing activity. For me, it's calming, fun, and is when I am most creative and free. I knew that before coming home this summer, I wanted to learn how to make something very traditional Chinese. Dumplings seemed like the perfect choice. Who doesn't like dumplings?!

I learned a lot about Chinese flavours and gained some useful cooking tips during this class. Before we began cooking, we took a tour of a local market and learned how to pick out the best wines, soy sauces, vinegars, produce, and spices. It was great getting these tips as much of the ingredients we want to buy on a day to day basis at a Chinese supermarket are all written in Chinese. Our guide gave us tips for what symbols to look for, numbers, and colours of labels for the "good brands" of all the ingredients we needed for dumplings and other Chinese cuisine.

Then came the cooking. We kneeded, mixed, chopped, diced, and stirred all morning preparing several different types of dumplings (beef, pork, and vegetable). We learned how to properly make dumpling dough, which was the part I was most nervous for. I'm not a baker (unless it comes out of a box). Measuring and having to be precise isn't my forte when it comes to cooking. I was worried the dough would be easily messed up. Contrary to my belief, it was really quite simple.

We learned how to steam, boil, and fry the dumplings. I think I preferred the steamed ones the most. The dough got chewy while the insides stayed moist and juicy. I've also learned that I prefer dipping my dumplings in a mixture of Chinese vinegar and soy sauce, rather than just the soy sauce like I had been brought up eating.

A couple of days after the class, Britt and I tried our hand at making the dumplings with only the recipes we were provided and the knowledge that we gained from the class. I think we were successful - minus the mess I made of the flour all over my clothes, the table, and the floor. Mom will be happy to know that my cleanliness during cooking remains as it was before leaving Canada.

So now I have dumplings to add to my recipe book along with all the other food I've learned to make this year, including delicious Southeast Asian cuisine I make on a regular basis now. Be prepared, family and friends to be my guinea pigs this summer!

PS - 34 days! 

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