Saturday, January 29, 2011

Preparations for New Year's dinner

After my mother informed me that HAHAHAHAHAHA wontons don't count as proper New Year's dumplings, I sucked it up and decided to make real and proper jiao-zhes.

The napa cabbage at the store looked pretty bad, so I bought bok choy instead. Two bunches. I pulled off a few leaves for Millie, and got to work with the rest:

I don't have a food processor, but I do things like this so infrequently that I don't mind doing it the old-fashioned way, with a cleaver:

It has to be this fine:

Then I added salt and let it draw the water out. This is called dejourger in French. I don't know what it's called in English or Chinese! After wringing it out in cheese cloth, I was left with less than a cup of greenery.

Here is the completed filling:

Thanks to our friendly local butcher, I can get ground pork! Americans don't generally eat ground pork, so people who want it for Asian cooking have to grind it themselves. In my case, with the cleaver. I'm very thankful to buy it pre-ground!

Still using the recipe I copied out of my mother's little green binder when I left home:

I'm thankful to come from a family that regards that as a recipe! It means we assume that we all have basic knifing, mixing, and cooking skills. For example, if I wanted to give my sister a recipe for a cake, I could give her an ingredient list and a cooking temperature and time, and that would be enough. I've come to realize that not many folks have these basic skills any more, and I'm thankful for them. My sister, incidentally, is a really outstanding cook!

If any of my six faithful readers would like a conventional recipe, please let me know. Otherwise, I'll save my carpal tunnel accumulation points. :)

I wrapped the first half last night, and put them in the shed to freeze. What, doesn't everyone use their backyard shed as a backup freezer?

It looks like I will have plenty of leftovers! Yay!

My friendly neighborhood moose. She beds down in my yard, and we watch each other eat breakfast on weekends, when I'm not up until it's light:

Oh, look what I found today at the Asian market! I'm going to try to make my own nian-gao.


mdr said...

my dear daughter, I love your dumpling. The food processor does not do the good job as you did, because it makes bok-choy too fine and lose its natural juice, therefore, the dumplings become too dry. Did your receipe mention sesame oil? Have a great gathering and New Year.

mdr said...

Don't forget to add three times (one cup water each time) cold water after each boiling when cooking.

The dates look deliciously good. If they are too dry, boil them with a little water and use that water to mix with the sweet rice flour to steam up your rice cake :-)

b said...

for the jiaozi at chinese new year, i think the hosts often make the filling while the guests all sit together and wrap, kind of like a social activity, and it cuts down on the work! it's kind of fun to have white people who haven't done this before make random shapes and they find it a novelty.

rena said...

Ahhh, Mdr answered my question - dried dates! Yummy!

My favorite thing to do with rice flour is mochi, which is about the same thing, and that is a very Japanese new year thing to do.
And do you add a cup of cold water after each boil as a measurement of time - to make sure that the dumplings are cooked thoroughly? Or does it contribute to the final texture?

And where did you find the wrappers - do they carry them up there in the grocery store or did you have to roll out your own?

Speaking of sticky rice, I think I will make a batch. Here is the recipe I used a few years ago for a Christmas party and it turned out very well. Although I miss it being wrapped in the lotus leaves.
Perhaps Mdr has a recommendation for a brand of lop chong sausage? I seem to recall finding one that was made in San Francisco at 99Ranch but that was a while ago...?

Arvay said...

LOL, Mudder won't know about Chinese sausage, since that is a Southern Chinese thing, and our roots are in the North (Mudder is from Taiwan).

As for the adding water thing, I'm not sure why jiao-zhe are cooked that way; that's just what all Chinese people do. Maybe it's because they are so delicate and prone to breakage that you don't want them sitting at a full boil for too long, but you need to extend the cooking time somehow.

B: I definitely would have preferred to have help wrapping, but I'm having a vendor over this week, and we'll be working full days until the last minute, so I'll be throwing together new year's dinner in about an hour and need to have everything ready! But yes, it was definitely boring doing alone and not something I intend to do again!

Arvay said...

Oh, they have wrappers at Freddie's!

Arvay said...

By the way, do you guys realize that you can click on photos to embiggen them?

Debs said...

I love Chinese food, though am not sure how authentic it is in restaurants - whether it's been altered to suit Western tastes etc. Your meal looks lovely. Happy new year to you!

Arvay said...

Debs, you ought to try Chinese food in London. It's authentic as can be without crossing the line into what westerners would consider repulsive (excessive oil, strange body parts, msg, etc.).

Better yet, unlike in San Francisco (which has old ties to Canton and Hong Kong), a higher proportion of Chinese Brits are from Northern China, so you have lots of lovely noodles and dumplings!

c said...

I thought most Chinese in Britain are from Hong Kong, since it was a former British colony.

We're actually not northern chinese, but central (Zhejiang) chinese.

Arvay said...

Hmmm... yes, you're likely right on both counts!

Debs said...

Chinese food is probably my favourite for a meal out, so will aim to try your tip next time I make a (very rare) trip to London.

Cantonese seems relatively common here, also Szechuan (sp?), and increasingly, Thai and Japanese. All good, so long as I avoid shellfish, which I have an intolerance to!

Anonymous said...

We buy ground pork all the time. I like to mix it in equal parts with ground chuck and ground veal. I use it in place of dishes that call for "ground beef". The mixture is way tastier and has better texture than generic old ground beef.

I didn't realize ground pork was popular with Chinese people. The grocery stores we frequent are all Italian (Cosentino's, Lunardi's, Andronico's, etc.) Learn something every day. :)