Monday, January 23, 2012

Dumplings!

Chun Jie Hao (春節好 or 春节) to all -- Happy Spring Holiday. It's the Year of the Dragon today, which means that last night was Chinese New Year Eve, which means that Matthew made dumplings for our dinner.

There are three fantastic things about Matthew making dumplings. First, they are delicious. Second, he makes about a scillion of them. Third, there's always leftover filling, which means he makes them again, and soon.

The filling is a secret mystery, which is to say that Matthew always makes it solo. I do know there are a lot of garlic chives involved. And shrimp, chicken, and eggs. Beyond that, I leave it to the expert.

Sometimes I'm permitted to help fill the dumplings. Matthew uses store-bought gyoza skins, which seems only safe and sane given a production as labor-intensive as dumplings. In Shenyang, China, Matthew's family does the same. Now that's a serious production, aunts and uncles making plate after plate after plate of dumplings.

Anyway, store-bought skins is authentic enough for me. This year I was responsible for finding the dumpling skins at the grocery store, because the legendary Berkeley Bowl is on a major rearranging-everything kick and the refrigerated case where they usually live was missing the other day. I found them, no worries. But that's as far as my responsibilities went in dumpling assembly this time around: as you can see from the pre-cooked photo, each and every dumpling is perfectly formed. That means Matthew stuffed them all.

I did cook them, however. There I seem to have sufficient talent to be permitted a role. I lightly oil the pan, let the dumplings sizzle for a bit in the oil, then add just enough water and cover the pan so that they steam. I let the pan go dry, and the bottoms of the dumplings do that lovely crispy-carmelization thing on the bottom.

Okay, so it wasn't a scillion, it was four dozen on the nose, you can count them in the photo. We ate ... most, but not all of them (there was more to dinner than dumplings, natch, we're talking holiday here, right?). And there's the true beauty of homemade dumplings. You eat and eat 'til you can't eat no more.

Mmmmmmmm.....




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