Sunday, August 06, 2006
Ever since I can remember eating (which is pretty much ever since I started remember anything), I've remembered eating dumplings. My parents, from the Northern part of China where the use of flour is abundant compared to other parts of China, love making dumplings the traditional way. This includes mixing your own dough, rolling out each dough into a thin, circular shape, and wrapping the dough around perfectly seasoned mixture of ground pork, nappa cabbage, and herbs and spices. Even with the modern conveniences of the store bought wrappers and frozen dumplings, my family still prefer the taste and the family bonding experience that comes from the process of making and wrapping the dumplings. Even though I now live on my own, I still find the time to make my own dumplings. There's just something theraputic and comforting about kneading, rolling, and wrapping them. I can almost imagine my family being together and laughing and talking with me as I stand in my own kitchen and prepare this. Maybe this sweet nostalgia which makes it more memorable also makes them dumplings taste better? In any case, although the process takes awhile, it's definately worth it because to me, this is the ultimate comfort, not only because it tastes good but also because of the happiness it brings when I make it.
Dumplings are one of the dishes that I don't have a written recipe for since I learned it from my parents who use a pinch of this, a splash of that, and adjust everything by tasting as they go. For the dough, I've had to experiment until I came up with the right balance of water to flour. The ratio of flour to water is roughly 3 cups flour to 1 cup water, of course each time may be slightly different due to the humidity of the air, type of flour used, how moist your hands are, etc. For boiled dumplings, use cold water, and for panfried dumplings (or Guo Tie), hot water is used to first partially cook the dough, resulting in a more chewy texture. After giving the dough a rest for about 30 minutes, it is ready for rolling, shaping, folding, cooking, and finally, eating!!