Never-lose-it-again Chinese dumplings
I’ve lost two things of utmost important to me twice in a row. This has never happened before, and I had merely a week to recover before this thing was yet again taken from me. I even wore it around my neck, saw to it every morning, and wrapped them up tightly. I’ll tell you what this is in a little bit.
Have you ever lost something in such a way where you literally could have un-lost it if only one action was changed? If I wasn’t in such a hurry, I would have remembered to take my keys out of the purse I used yesterday, so they’d be inside today’s purse. If I didn’t look at the pedestrian, I wouldn’t have gone through that red light and been pulled over. If only, if only, if only. You know what it’s like to regret something so sharply when something so small could have made the difference.
My friend lost her monthly bus pass this past weekend when we were out together, and I felt terrible that this happened to her at the beginning of January. That pass is not inexpensive! We re-traced our steps, asked the shop owners if a customer had turned it up, but it was no cigar like Cuba without a beach. I tried to cheer her up by saying there should be a pocket that takes inventory of its contents every time something is dropped inside, will sound an alarm when it’s removed, and only opens up when your unique fingerprints reaches inside.
The things we miss the most are the things we want to protect, right? I’m re-reading a book called Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer and came upon this page I had dog-earred upon my first read about pockets and protecting valuables:
We need much bigger pockets, I thought as I lay in bed, counting off the seven minutes that it takes a normal person to fall asleep. We need enormous pockets, pockets big enough for our families, and our friends, and even the people who aren’t on our lists, people we’ve never met but still want to protect. We need pockets for boroughs and for cities, a pocket that could hold the universe.
Eight minutes thirty-two seconds …
But I knew that there couldn’t be pockets that enormous. In the end, everyone loses everyone. There was no invention to get around that, so I felt, that night, like the turtle that everything else in the world was on top of.
Wouldn’t it be neat if we had such a device against loss. I think the question wouldn’t be so much what you will never lose again, but what you want to store. The down-side about infinite storage space is that it encourages you to be indiscriminate about your belongings. Sort of like a Gmail account — you never have to delete anything again, so you end up accumulating new folders to sort out all the non-essential things you keep. If Gmail were a pocket, it would have lots of zippers and embedded envelopes within it.
In a few weeks, it will be Chinese new year, and what many families like to do to celebrate is sit around and fold dumplings together. I have a confession to make: I only found this out two years ago, and I’ve been Chinese all my life! So last weekend, since my sister is in town, my family sat together and made shrimp and pork dumplings.
Actually, the fun part was folding the wonton wrappers into place. To secure these pockets of savoury bites, there simply are no rules. There are so many ways to fold dumplings — my mom folds her like a napkin on a cruise ship dinner table, my dad manages to make his look like the ruffly edge of an oyster shell, and my sister folds it like a cootie-catcher. The main point in making dumplings is to make sure the contents don’t spill out! That means a) having the self-control to not overpack your wonton wrapper b) moistening the wrapper edges like you would an envelope c) not changing your mind once you’ve set a fold. This, and a lot of hands and hours will help you to never lose the contents in your pocket.
Oh yes, back to the thing I lost twice in a row. What can you wear around your neck, attend to each morning, and wrap tightly? That would be my health. I got sick twice — the first time during Christmas, and now again, the second week into the new year. I wore a scarf around my neck, took my vitamins every morning, and wore my mitts like they were my own fingers. But what can I say — I still caught two consecutive colds. Guess I better get on inventing those awesome pockets.
Pork and shrimp Chinese dumpling recipe
- 1 package wonton wrappers (NOT the same as spring roll wrappers, trust me I tried both)
- 1 lb raw shrimp, peeled
- 1 lb minced pork
- 3 stalks green onion, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- small bowl of water for dipping
- salt and white pepper
- Place all the raw shrimp in a large bowl. Mash it, like you would mash boiled potatoes (in Chinese, my dad calls this technique “hacking away”, though it paints a more savage picture in a literal English translation. Sorry vegetarians.)
- Combine the pork, and mix well.
- Add green onions, and salt and white pepper to season.
- Prepare a dish of water with cornstarch, and mix well.
- Taking a wonton wrapper, place it in the balm of your hand. Cradle a teaspoon-sized ball of the pork and shrimp filling into the centre of the wrapper.
- Dip a finger into the cornstarch water, and paint all along the perimeter of the wonton wrapper. Don’t add so much so that the corners are soggy — it should look like a moistened envelope.
- Fold the dumpling. To get started on basic shapes, watch Andrea Nguyen’s video.
- Wrapped dumplings can be frozen, or cooked immediately.