My friend Christina (aka the “dumpling queen”) hosted a dumpling making get-together this past Thursday for a few neighbors. I showed up a tad late, which wasn’t particularly a bad thing, since they had been busy prepping ingredients and offered me some ginger, garlic, bok choy and carrots for my filling. It seemed that no one was miffed at my minor freeloading, as I apologized for my lateness and pranced in with a great big salad for lunch. (I’m pretty sure they knew I’d pull my weight later.)
I was in low gear that morning, dicing shrimp for the shumai I would make in addition to the dumplings. It was luxurious to say the least. As I chopped, Christina began seasoning, pouring soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic and ginger into my mixtures. In a short few minutes, with Christina’s assistance, I had caught up to my friends, who were ready to begin their crimping.
We were four women, each with a different crimping style. Christina whizzed through hers with a beautiful pleat and fold method, packing dozens of perfectly plump dumplings onto her tray while the rest of us lagged behind, crimping in our own way. Sybil (also of Chinese descent) demonstrated a simple two-fold crimping technique that her mother taught her. In the company of Christina, she abandoned that mode, hoping to master Christina’s more aesthetically pleasing method.
There were plenty of laughs and some serious talk, as we discussed the happenings of the week. Snippets of our lives and fragments of ourselves were casually revealed as four women crimped and got to know one another better than before. The back door opened and closed, as we used the frigid air to begin the freezing process for hundreds of dumplings we were making together.
And at the end, when all the dishes were clean and counters tidy, when Christina’s kitchen was sparkling, we sat down for a lovely lunch of steamed shumai and a hearty green lettuce salad with beets and feta cheese. I doubt there’s a lunch spot in town that can offer as good a time, as delicious a lunch and a few hundred dumplings to take home.
We’ll reconvene next week for an intense few hours of soup-making for the human needs food pantry.
Here are the ingredients that we used for our dumpling filling. Now, since we improvised as we made the filling, I am offering you estimates with no precise measurements. A little of this and a lot of that! Use your judgment to create your perfect filling.
Pork Dumpling Filling
2 pounds ground pork
fresh ground ginger (1 tablespoon)
minced garlic (two teaspoons)
soy sauce (two teaspoons)
sesame oil (1 tablespoon)
1 egg lightly beaten
Corn starch (1-2 tablespoons)
Pre-cooked bok choy, chopped (1 cup)
Shredded carrots (1/2 cup)