Last week at Gretchen’s we helped out with a class on Chinese cooking. Presented by Huiming Hsiao, the daughter of Taiwanese restauranteurs, the food was heavy on the pork, light on the vegetables, and extremely yummy. I’m hardly going to complain about too much pork. Besides, there was also chicken and shrimp.
Most of the food was served at once, but we started the guests off with a curried chicken skewer. Huiming brought the boneless chicken thighs pre-marinated in a lively blend of star anise, Sichuan pepper and curry, and all we had to do was skewer them and stick them in the oven.
Once the skewering was under way, I got put to work making dumplings. The filling was a simple mixture of ground pork and a prebagged slaw that I zizzed up in the food processor with fresh scallions, plus a few seasonings. Huiming showed me her technique for filling and sealing, which worked quite well once I got the hang of it. I tried using the little plastic dumpling press but it outsmarted me and refused to seal the dumpling skins.
We made a lot of dumplings.
The way the dumplings were cooked surprised me: first sizzled in an electric griddle with just a bit of oil, then steamed in water mixed with potato starch. The starch had the effect of coating the bottoms of the dumplings and creating a fabulously crispy coating. Huiming admitted that this was a “cheating” sort of trick, but really effective.
To go with the dumplings, there was a fried rice with bacon and shrimp, then a simple egg-flower soup with meatballs made from the leftover pork dumpling filling. And an extra chicken skewer.
One of the perks of volunteering in the demo kitchen is occasionally getting some leftovers to take home. We had some rather successful meals off of this class, including fried eggs over fried rice, dumplings floating in soup with lots of green onion, and a totally experimental but strangely successful dish of Chinese egg noodles bound together with a garlic-lebni sauce and studded with frozen spinach and shredded curry chicken.