Dumpling Party by Kira 06/10/2013


Yesterday, we hosted a homemade dumpling party in our garden to fundraise for our new nonprofit, China Residencies. The process of wrapping dumplings by hand is one of the most interactive and delicious forms of cultural exchange, aligning perfectly with our mission to help more artists experience China firsthand.

We made two kinds of dumplings (pork & scallion and mushroom & eggplant) and paired them with three traditional cold dishes: vinegar roasted peanuts, garlic smashed cucumbers, and wood ear mushrooms. Below are the full recipes, try them at home! If you’re delighted with the results, please consider a donation to support the arts right here.
黑木耳 – Cold Spicy Wood Ear Mushrooms
You’ll need one bag of dried wood ear mushrooms from your local Chinatown. They sometimes go by the name of tree ear, cloud ear, or terribly politically incorrectly, jew’s ear mushrooms – here they are on wikipedia if you’re curious!
Soak them in warm water with a little cornstarch and watch them ballon in size. After about twenty minutes, boil them for three minutes then blanch the mushrooms with cold water.
Douse them in a sauce made of equal parts white vinegar, aged vinegar (balsamic will work if you don’t have 老醋 on hand,) and sugar, with a dash of sesame oil, salt and chili oil to taste. Refrigerate for half-an-hour or so, and serve cold.

老醋花生 – Roasted Peanuts in aged Vinegar
For this common Chinese side-dish, roast raw peanuts in their skins with a little sesame oil (or vegetable oil) and salt. While they are still hot, pour over aged Chinese vinegar (or substitute balsamic) and liberally cover with fresh cilantro. You can eat these hot, or let them cool off. Quick, easy and delicious!

拍黄瓜 – Garlic Smashed Cucumbers
These cucumbers are incredibly refreshing on a summer’s eve, and quite fast and fun to prepare. Place handfulls of large cucumber chunks in a ziploc bag with a healthy amount of garlic, some white vinegar, a light splash of sesame oil, and a big pinch of each sugar and salt. Then smack the plastic bag hard against the counter, until you’ve dispelled all the day’s stresses and the cucumbers have absorbed their dressing. Served chilled, with a cold Tsingtao (optional.)

猪肉大葱水饺 – Pork & Scallion Dumplings
For the filling, the main ingredient is ground pork (we used 2 pounds to feed around twenty people, as a benchmark.) Finely chop equal amounts Chinese cabbage (Napa cabbage works equally well), scallions, and shiitake mushrooms and add the vegetables to the pork in a large mixing bowl. Season the dumpling filling mixture with soy sauce, a little sesame oil, and black pepper. Let the filling sit while you read about the next kind of dumpling:
茄子香菇水饺 – Eggplant & Mushroom Dumplings
This vegetarian-friendly dumpling is filled with finely chopped eggplant and shiitake (or portabello) mushrooms instead of the pork in the above recipe. The other ingredients are identical, and you can add an egg or two and a touch of cornstarch to help hold this filling together.

Now, take your pre-made dumpling skins bought fresh in Chinatown (it’s not cheating, really — rolling out dumpling skins is quite an advanced skill,) stretch them out a little and fill them with a spoonful of filling. Pleat them just so (words alone can’t do this action justice, refer to this blog post for wonderfully illustrated instructions) and lay them in nice rows while you bring a large pot of water to boil. The dumplings are ready as soon as they float to the surface.
Marinate a little fresh ginger in a mixture of vinegar and soy sauce — you’ll dip the dumplings in this sauce right before you eat them.
慢慢吃! Enjoy!

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