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I was so happy when I found about this month's Recipes to Rival Challenge. It was inspired by my baba's homeland. Dumplings!

During the Summer Olympics our TV was always on. We seldom watched anything else. Hub and I would even eat our meals while watching it. We were religious in our support. I think because it was in China, I felt a special connection. Although I am only half, and I've never been there, I still think that there's a sense of pride and brotherhood in all Chinese people. We're awesome. Seriously, didn't you watch that opening ceremony? ;)

When I found out about the challenge, I'll admit I was a little nervous, but also a little smug. I thought back to my childhood, sitting at the kitchen table dipping my fingers in the water, folding the skins just like baba showed me albeit with less precision and grace. I thought, I've got this, I've made these a hundred times. But then I thought, not the dough, and from scratch? I assumed it wouldn't be that difficult though. I can make bread. right?


Reading over the recipe I had to smile. It said to mix the ingredients for the dough with your chopsticks. I thought about my mama in Hong Kong. Once when baba was preparing to fly out there for a work trip and a short visit, he packed a small egg beater. He explained that mama would love to have it since you see, she mixed everything with her chopsticks. Bread, cakes, everything.
He left it with her and when he returned a few months later, it was unused and she tried giving it back to him. She liked her chopsticks.

I like my Bosch. I guess I don't have my grandmother's touch. I need more chopstick mixing practice, I suppose. The dough ended up clumpy and even after letting it sit, it broke too easily when I tried rolling it out thin. Then in the forum a few people said they used their mixers and that the dough turned out perfectly. I haven't ventured to make these again, but when I do, I may use my Bosch as a last resort.

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My Method:
I tried the given filling for half of our potstickers and used a recipe from baba for the other half. It consists of ground pork, finely chopped ginger, boiled and finely chopped cabbage, soy sauce and dollop of oyster sauce. He seldom tells me measurements. I just do as much as I fancy. Although he did emphasize that the ginger is the component that gives the dumplings their special flavor.

I also added a few drops of sesame oil. I can't help it. It's like a Chinese food making reflex I have.

For dipping sauce I made a vinegar and soy sauce mix. About 1 to 2 in ratio. So yummy.

To cook them, I pan fry them in some oil, then pour a rice vinegar and water mixture (about 1-2 teaspoons of vinegar per cup of water) a quarter ways up the pot stickers making sure to pour the water on top of them as well. Then cover them, and let them steam until most of the water is evaporated. Take off the cover and pan fry a few more minutes until you can't stand anymore waiting, or until they're a bit crispy on the bottom. Do all this on a medium temperature so as not to burn the little guys.

Reasons I Loved This Challenge:
Nostalgia, thinking about my family, remembering traditions, and yummy food.

Will I make it again?
Of course. Well, I'll at least try the dough once more. When is the real question. Those prepackaged skins at Chao's are so dependable. Usually we make potstickers(or get them from my parents) to stick in the freezer for when we make noodle soup, or fun.

What Would I Do Differently?
Baba gave me a recipe for the dough that uses cold and hot water. I wondered if that changed the way the dough set up.

I also want to play around with fillings. Maybe add some water chestnuts to the ginger filling for an extra crunch? Shallots, and maybe some Shichimi Togarashi. Doesn't it sound and look yummy?

My Favorite Part:
Talking to my father about it before hand. He loves giving me tips and recipes. I love how passionate he is about it all, and the time we get to talk. Of course I also love receiving the recipes and tips as well.

Our Soundtrack: Swan Princess during the dough making. Then Casper when we were assembling and cooking.



click the pic to see all the yummy "dump-linhs"!

Previous Challenges:

August - Tamales
July - Thank George's Bank
June - Ratatouille


9 Comments

  1. I loved this challenge, too, and the flavor of the homemade potstickers is so much better! And your photos are great!

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  2. I am sitting here reading about your dumplings and getting progresively hungrier. I wasn't brave enough to try mixing with chopsticks, I barely manage eating with them, So I congradulate you on the effort.

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  3. great job! They look delicious. I tried using the chopsticks too but it was a mess! I love the stories about your family!

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  4. Your photos are delightful! and I too enjoyed reading about your family :)

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  5. Your dumplings look amazing. Your ginger filling sounds really good, I'm going to have to try that one. I am also going to use your tip about using the rice wine with the water to steam the dumplings.

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  6. This was a fun challenge, although I'm gonna need to ask my roomie for chopstick-stirring lessons. I'm really not very good, but I guess I haven't been doing it my whole life. I loved the end of your blog, from "What I loved..." to "Soundtrack". I might borrow the idea sometime, if that's alright.

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  7. Thanks everyone! DDD of course you can use whatever ideas you like. I got the structured post idea from Mel at My Kitchen Cafe originally.

    I'm not against sharing ideas at all.

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  8. The dumplings look great Jen. There are so many choices for filling. You can keep trying them every which way. I saw one on Martha that used endamame, which I thought was a good idea!

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  9. I agree with you about the opening ceremonies, that was crazy! I've never seen anything like it. I love that little vignette about your grandmother mixing with her chopsticks and not being interested in the beater. You hope skills like that don't get lost over time, but I guess everything evolves. What a wonderful kitchen memory!

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