One of my FAVORITE kinds of Chinese eats are ‘pot stickers’. I love all kinds… but it’s funny cause I never really considered actually MAKING them from scratch. I mean, it’s just one of those things that you get at a restaurant, or you buy frozen and heat up! Right? Well, one of my sweet friends-Julia Lewis- was having a luncheon at her house, and invited any of us to come early and learn how to make “jiaoza” (the Chinese name for dumplings or pot stickers). Her Ayi was going to teach us. (Ayi is someone that helps in the home with cooking, cleaning, maintenance, laundry – whatever) Their Ayi has been with them for over 7 years… and is the CUTEST, sweetest (little) thing! She doesn’t speak much English. So those of us that were there, gathered in her kitchen and watched in awe as the ayi made it look effortless to make these little creations… I photographed the whole thing so that I could refer to the photo when I try to attempt them myself. I am posting them in an album if you want to see…
So first she made the dough using just flour and lukewarm water. She kneaded it into a ball and set it aside to raise a little while she worked on the filling. She started by teaching us how to prep the cabbage. This was fascinating: first she totally chopped the chabbage really small-with a huge chop knife.. and she literally just kept chopping, chopping, chopping to get it really really small pieces. Then she scooped it into a bowl and sprinkled some salt over it, and she explained that the salt pulls the water out…she stirred it around, and then proceeded to take handfuls of the cabbage and squeeze it (like making a snow ball)-to squeeze all the water out. Then she took a couple pounds of ground pork- and a pair of chopsticks and started adding: soy sauce, a little saltl, dark soy sauce, cooking wine. Then chopped ginger, and some dumpling seasoning. After adding each thing, she would stir it with the chop sticks…and she kept emphasizing that you only stir in ONE direction??why—who knows… Then she added in the huge bowl of chopped, water-less cabbage, and mixed it all together using her hands. Last thing she threw in was chopped green onion.
Then is was time to roll out the skins. She took a bit of the dough, made it into a doughnut, and then a long snake… she cut pieces that were about 3/4 “ thick, and then smooshed them a bit. Using this little rolling pin thing, she make there perfectly thing, and round little shells. She scooped a bit of filling in and had this very deliberate way of pinching them closed, and carefully set them on a bamboo rack. Once she had a bunch ready she arranged them in the pan, with a little oil in the bottom., and cooked for about 5 minutes. Then she poured in water to cook with steam.
Now if you know Emily very well, you know she does NOT like Chinese food.. but she totally ate this AND liked it! we had fun visiting. We had to get back… Kylee, and the kids and I all had Chinese class today we needed to get back for. So far, they are really catching on. I just can’t tell you how fun it is to start to learn a new laguage… and have a ‘hope of communication’. Today we leared how to talk about eating and drinking and how to say “what is your name”. Poor Quincy is finally feeling totally comfortable with all the regular English sounds, and her reading is amazing… but it’s hard to remember what the Chinese sounds are. She is really doing pretty good! I have found that I have such a desire to learn! Speaking and writing are 2 TOTALLY different challenges- we are focusing on speaking! Both Colton and Cory are totally into learning Chinese too! And they are just little sponges and I am amazed at how quickl it is for them to remember stuff. I love it.