Ah, Dumplings – my default food of choice in China.
If I am unsure what to eat for dinner, dumplings are there to rescue me.
Until now, I haven’t met one I don’t like. In fact, after 20 days in China, I would consider myself a pro at eating them (if you can be a pro at eating something. Wait professional eating is a thing, right?)
I do not, however, consider myself a pro at making them. For how small and innocent they look, they sure do require a lot of effort to manufacture. The cooking class I took was about two and a half hours long and we needed that entire time to finish our little bundles of deliciousness.
We made both boiled dumplings and their tastier pan fried version, pot stickers.
When making a dumpling, you should start from the outside in. The dumpling dough is flour based and the idea is to knead it until there aren’t any cracks. Obviously I’m no Emeril, but no worries as the dumpling shell is not the main attraction here, the filling is.
I won’t go into all the ingredients we used (cilantro, ginger, mushrooms, onions, carrots, minced pork to name the bulk), but we needed to finely chop them all; you don’t want to bite into a phatty chunk of ginger half way through your dumpling.
The key is balance and subtlety here.
For the coup de grâce, comes the folding of the dumpling.
I kind of fat fingered a couple of them, but I think mine didn’t look too bad in the end. And remember, the filling is the main attraction here anyways.
The folks at The Hutong cultural center will be happy to give you (I mean sell you) a glass of wine. Don’t worry, it may only be 11 am in the morning, but nobody is judging. Except for that guy Craig, who was staring me down the entire class. Get off my back Craig!
Where: The Hutong cultural center in Beijing
Cost: 280 Yuan for the dumpling class. Other cooking classes, plus classes on Chinese Medicine and Tea are also available.