This year I have had the amazing fortune to do an incredible amount of travel to some truly amazing places. In January, I spent 10 days in China. Craig and I visited The Great Wall, The Forbidden City and ate some really delicious food. Our guide, Vicky, took us to some of her favorite places in Beijing. Then it was off to Shanghai for a couple of days. This is where I discovered dumplings…and I’ve been hooked ever since.
In Shanghai, their dumpling specialty is Xiaolongbao. These are dumplings with a thin skin, a filling and then a bit of soup inside the dumpling. Our favorite place was Nan Xiang at Yu Yuan Garden. They only serve pork dumplings in 2 portion sizes and cost less than $10 US. We loved them so much, that we made a special trip just to have them for dinner the night Craig had a dinner meeting. Then we had to wait in a line that was an hour long (and that’s normal). So that he wouldn’t be late, we hopped a motorized rickshaw. Check out the video of Mr. Toad’s wild rickshaw ride. It was an experience we will never forget!
The other thing I got to do in Shanghai was take a cooking class. In that class, we learned how to make Adzuki bean soup (which is actually a sweet soup) and Xiaolongbao. The shrimp dumpling recipe that we made did not contain soup inside of them, but they were so delicious. Our instructor showed us how to fold and crimp them into their stylistic package and realizing that none of us were able to do it very well, proceeded to show us how to fold and crimp them into the shape of goldfish. And with the reddish orange of the cooked shrimp and orange carrots peeking through the translucent dumpling skin, they really look like koi fish.
February found us traveling to Australia. After a few days in Sydney, it was off to Melbourne to visit with old friends and meet some new ones. In Melbourne, I got to meet and hang out with Penny and her Mister. They took me to a couple of their local farmer’s markets where we sat and had a little impromptu picnic of goat cheese, raspberries and bread – so good and so much fun!
Which brings me to my dumpling post….Penny writes the fantastic blog Jeroxie. She’s been putting together these virtual cooking parties for a few months now and I decided to finally jump in for this month’s International Dumpling Incident. (If you would like to participate in the next International Incident, click on the link.) The recipe below is from my Shanghai cooking class. They’re actually pretty simple to make. The only part that takes some time is the rolling out the dough and putting them together, but it doesn’t take any longer to do than if you use those pre-made wonton wrappers. I’ve had more trouble using the wonton wrappers than making and using this dough.
Traveling with your significant other can be a dream come true or more like Nightmare on Elm Street. Fortunately, Craig and I travel really well together, but I’ve had my share of disaster trips. Just a couple of tips to make your trip together a dream.
- Take some time to yourself. Let him sleep in and you take a little walk around town.
- Alternate who chooses the activities of the day.
- Don’t schedule every minute of every day. Vacation is a time to relax and have some fun. Think of it like this…if you don’t see it on this trip, it leaves you something to come back and see the next time.
- 1 Cup Wheat Starch
- 3 Tablespoons Potato Starch
- 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
- 1 Cup Boiling Water
- 1 Tablespoon Lard (cut into small cubes)
- 1/2 Cup Carrots (chopped fine)
- 1/2 Cup Water Chestnuts or Fresh Bamboo Sprouts (chopped fine)
- 1/2 Pound Raw Shrimp (shelled, de-veined and chopped fine)
- 1/8 Teaspoon Salt
- 2 Teaspoons Egg White
- 1 Teaspoon Lard (cut into small cubes)
In a bowl, combine the wheat and potato starch along with the salt.
Slowly add in the boiling water and stir to combine. Stir quickly so that the starch doesn’t ‘set up’ and get hard. Once all the water has been added, continue stirring. When the dough is holding together, remove it from the bowl and begin kneading the dough. As the dough cools down, slowly start to add in the cubes of lard. Keep kneading the dough until all of the lard has been worked in.
Roll the dough into 2 logs and set aside to cool.
In a bowl combine carrots, water chestnuts, shrimp, salt and egg whites. Stir to thoroughly combine, then stir in cubes of lard.
Lightly sprinkle some wheat starch onto a flat surface.
Roll dough into a 1″ ball.
Flatten ball to approximately 3″ in diameter circle to form the dumpling wrapper.
Spoon 1 teaspoon of the filling into the middle of the wrapper.
Fold up the wrapper (follow the video above for a more traditional look). To make the goldfish: fold the wrapper in half around the filling. Pinch the edges in the middle. For the face of the goldfish push the bottom of the wrapper up to meet the pinched middle. This will cause two pockets to form on either side of the pinch (these are what look like the the big eyes of the goldfish). For the tail pinch the dough, on the other end, at the edge of the filling. Flatten out the extra dough then cut a ‘V’ shape into the dough leaving two triangles that look like a tail.
Steam in a steamer for 15-20 minutes. If you don’t have a steamer, you can use a steamer basket in a pot of boiling water. Make sure that you line whatever steamer basket with parchment paper that you have cut holes into. This will keep the dumplings from sticking to the basket. Also make sure that the dumplings aren’t touching one another.
Serve (traditionally) with black vinegar or soy sauce.