Happy Chinese New Year! I actually know very little about their celebrations but I did find out from the local Chinese Medicine pharmacy that what we know as the New Year is actually the 4th day of their celebrations. So a chat with some Chinese folk is in order but to be honest, this blog is about FOOD and I wanted to post about these dumplings for two reasons.
A) Chinese food is my favourite. I traveled through China for 5 weeks as a high school graduation gift and dining with your friend’s mother’s old friends who would take you and her out every day meant eating with 20 people every lunch/dinner which meant that there was SO MUCH TO CHOOSE FROM. More on Chinese food on another post, perhaps.
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B) Most importantly, I want to inform all my budget concerned Centretown/Chinatown folk that this is one of the simplest and easiest and yummiest meals you can make
For the dumplings.. go to The Yen Fung Ding Dumpling Shoppe @ 628 Somerset Street West.
No, It’s not a restaurant as some of you may think. They carry a variety of frozen food that they make on the premises dumplings (mushroom & nappa, pork & chive – a classic and a favourite, chicken & shrimp, etc.), sui mai dumplings, chinese buns and scallion pancakes. MMM a little taste of my home from a different lifetime. They are very easy to prepare (they can be steamed, pan fried or boiled). If you pick up some Chinese greens from Kowloon (kale or spinach works just the same), it’s easy to make a staple side dish.
Yes, if you want to minimize dishes in the sink, I would recommend getting a two or three tiered steaming basket. They come in a variety of sizes at most of the grocery stores in Chinatown and you buy them by the piece totaling a max of $10. Buy one that fits one of your medium sauce pans and you’re set!
Chinese Dumplings with Steamed Greens and Tamari Sesame Dipping Sauce
*Note: Vinegar, tamari and sesame oil can be interchangeable with other oils, it just wont be as ‘authentic’
Fill a medium sauce pan half full of water and bring it to a boil.
Meanwhile rinse a hand full of greens per person with water, set aside.
Make your dipping sauce by stirring together,
2 tbsp seasame seed oil
3 tbsp tamari (fermented soya sauce that has a deeper flavour and is more nutritious than conventional soya sauce)
1 tbsp rice vinegar
(optional additions include 1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger, chili flakes, sriracha, sesame seeds, minced green onions)
Once water has been brought to a boil, place as many dumplings as you want (I recommend 8 per person) onto one layer of the bamboo steamer without them overlapping. Place on top of the saucepan carefully.
Place the greens onto the second steamer and fit steamer layer on top of the dumpling layer. Cover with the lid and let steam until greens are tender and have a deep bright green colour (about 5 min).
Remove layer, set aside and place lid back on to continue steaming the dumplings (about 3-5 more min). To test for doneness, look for a very slight transparency in the dough, firm when pressed and they shrivel when taken off the heat.
To season greens, toss with,
1/2 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp rice vinegar
1/2 tbsp sesame oil
salt to taste
Serve by candlelight and listen to The Rocky Horror Picture Show soundtrack just for kicks.
As a nice little bonus to your Chinatown home meal experience I recommend the cheap cheap prices of St. Honore Bakery at 363 Booth St. Apparently for ‘happy hour’ (5pm) you can get 10 for $5! Sweet buns, meaty sweet buns – Hong Kong style. Bon Appetit!