Hello! I’m back with a little update and a recipe. Still hanging out in our little apartment in Shanghai… We will have been here one month as of tomorrow!! Can’t believe it. The weather has improved TONS so I have come out of hibernation and have been spending my days wandering around and hanging out at my local park, thoroughly enjoying not having to wear thermal underwear under my jeans.
I have also been taking a little break from eating out because all the fried food and oil has been giving me some ouchy gallstone problems. I guess I didn’t really realize how much junk I was eating; I was mostly concerned about the ever-important budget! And, well, I just can’t get enough noodles and they are so cheap…. and, to be honest, trying to find new places where there’s something I CAN eat is a bit of a hassle, so I tend to stick to the familiar when I just need lunch or whatever. But I can take a hint, body. So I’ve hit the kitchen again this week and am feeling much better already.
I have gotten pretty good at navigating the grocery store here, if I do say so myself. It’s the Wild West in there. Think your local Kroger, but with dead chickens hanging around and some live fish, and small women screaming into the microphone about deals or whatever in the background. The first day I went in and thought, “Oh no. I can’t do this, this isn’t a zen experience at all.” But the next time I was mentally prepared, put some T Rex on in my headphones and elbowed the other shoppers right back fighting to get to the Bok choy.
My staples have become some things I have found that are always cheap: eggplant, Bok choy, tofu, spring onion, lemons, ginger, bananas, tomatoes, oatmeal…. And some things I pay a lot for because I can’t live without them: instant coffee, apples, and the essential Weetabix fiber cereal from the import section.
Anyway the other day I saw a huge bag of supa cheap, freshly made dumpling wrappers in the tofu section and I thought… Well, I’ve got nothing much to do, might as well try my hand at making dumplings! So here you go. They turned out pretty well! I’ve gotta give credit to Ryan on this one as co-chef, because we were both in on this. Bear in mind this was our first time making dumplings ever, and as usual I chose to wing it, so don’t judge the beauty of our dumplings too harshly. 😉
You can of course make the dumpling wrappers yourself, and could easily find instructions online in how to do it. But, you know, I’m in China where they make and sell them fresh at the store, so…
35-40 round dumpling wrappers
1 large handful Bok choy (one heaped cup chopped finely)
6-8 spring onions
1/2 brick of baked tofu
1 tablespoon of crushed red pepper, or to taste
Handful of sesame seeds
1/2 tablespoon of sesame oil
Salt and pepper
First, get your filling prepped. Wash and finely chop the bok choy and spring onion, the smaller the better. Dice the tofu and combine all three in a mixing bowl. Add in crushed red pepper, sesame seeds and a little drizzle of sesame oil, along with salt and pepper to taste (I didn’t add any salt). Mix that all around really good and give it a taste, it should look like this:
Get out your dumpling wrappers, and get ready to roll. Pour some water in a little bowl and place next to you, and put a bit of flour down on whatever surface you’re going to line up your rolled dumplings on, so they don’t stick to it.
Place a dumpling wrapper in your left hand, and scoop a bit of filling into the middle. Pinch it together in the middle, and then create two little folds on both sides to seal it up. Put a little water on your fingers to seal it.
I used this site to learn how to fold dumplings after our first attempts were pretty sad-looking… This describes it way better than I can, with nice little photos. Click here: The Woks of Life
I recommend putting some tunes on and getting comfy for this bit, because if you’re like me and not adept enough at this yet to make it quick, it could take a while. Make the rest of the dumplings, until you run out of papers or filling. We got to 32 before deciding it was more productive to just eat the last few spoonfuls of filling. Appetizers, you know. When you get to the last 10 or so, put on a pot of water to boil.
Boil the dumplings in batches. They only take about 3-5 minutes, you can kind of tell when they are done because they float on their sides.
Serve with Chinese vinegar to dip, or mix up a little sesame oil, soy sauce and rice vinegar. 🙂