Monday, May 25, 2009

Learning how to make dumplings

Last Saturday, i make a trip down to Sifu's house without notifying her. Haha.....actually, she did hint that she will be making new type of dumplings. Since i could find the time to go down, i thought, it would be a good experience. I have never done any dumpling wrapping myself before except back during school days, i did help my mum with the preparation for making hokkien bak chang (dumpling) and nonya dumlings.

Wow, making the nonya dumpling is really a lot of work as my mum used to fry her own coriander seeds, pound it, sieve for the powder form, pound again and sieve again. Besides that, have to dice the pork, dice the pre-soaked chinese mushrooms, dice the 冬瓜糖 (dong gua tang) which is actually the sugar preserved melon strips, then fry them all togther to make the fillings for the nonya dumplings. Till this day, i still couldn't find any nonya dumplings as good as what my mum make. Perhaps because my mum makes everything the very traditional way and it just taste fantastic. Nowsday, a lot of things are being simplified for convenience, and as such it just losses it's traditional flavour. I really missed mum.

Making the hokkien bak chang will have lesser work because there's less cutting needed. Usually the pork is cutted into large chunk, mushroom is leaves as whole, dried chestnut is soaked, washed and peel off the skin and leaves as whole too. Besides that, there's also dried shrimp which is also leaves as whole. Sometimes my dad loves to add dried oyster too which is an optional item. All these will be pre-fried with five spice powder before wrapping into the glutinuous rice. I also missed my dad, some food (example is the China style mooncake and chinese tea although i didn't like dried oyster) was only shared between the two of us as other family members couldn't appreciate them like dad and me.

If i'm not wrong, for the cantonese style, the fillings ingredient are more or less the same as hokkiedn bak chang except minus the five spice powder but a salted egg yolk will be added into the fillings.

Oh so much of my dumplings talk, now back to my learning trip in sifu's house.

This was what i got from sifu's house after my learning experience

The above were wrapped by me. I specially make a marking so that i could retrieve it after the steaming. Normally the traditional "chang" were all boiled in water. I shall explain why i say steam instead of boil here later. What do you think? Sifu said for a beginner, i have done a good job. Heehee...... Oh, probably you would be wondering why am i a beginner since my mum is such a good dumpling maker. Well, those days, my mum use to make so many hundreds of "chang" for all my uncles, aunties, grandmother and even neighbours too. So she would always say, "Don't disturb me, you are slowing my process" Haha.......... so normally we would be kick out of the kitchen after all the preparations work is done. lolz...

This is done by sifu single handedly the day before my trip. It's make of glutinuous rice still, but it's not the usual fillings like the one that i describe above. This is actually the nonya kueh - rempah udang. The traditional rempah udang is actually in the form of a cyclinder shape. Over here, sifu make it into the shape of a dumpling. The fillings is actually make of shredded coconut and dried shrimp fried with chillies and many other spices.

Now, back to the new flavour of dumplings that sifu taught. Look at the blueish and pinkish little dumplings. The skin actually make from glutinuous rice flour. It tasted some what like the "Ang Ku Kueh" - QQ and smooth. Because the skin is make of glutinuous rice flour, so there's no need to boil it. Just steaming will do. Unlike the traditional one, the outer part is half cooked glutinous rice which will take a longer period to cook. As such, the traditional one are usually boiled to speed up the process. They say these glutinous rice flour tranluscent type are the taiwanese style of dumplings. For these, we make 3 different type of fillings - the blueish one is rempah udang fillings, the pinkish one is peanut fillings. There's one more shredded coconut filling which is not inside my picture because it was mixed up in the packet that i brought back so i was not able to snap a photograph. haha.... for this, i tell a little white lie saying that i didn't snap a photo because i'm saving it for consumption at a later date. But, those who were in the picture of my trip knew what's happening. Oops! i think i have let the cat out of the bag already. lolz...
Beside bring back the taiwanese style dumpling, i also brought back the traditional hokkien bak chang which is a compliment from another baking friend from Malaysia who was also there last saturday. I called these the "smuggle bak chang" because she really run the risk of not being able to bring it over if she's being stopped at the custom. She had single handedly make these bak chang herself in the early wee hour before setting off here.

Look at the generousity of the fillings.
Every time i goes down to sifu's house, it's always a fruitful and abundance one. Not only for the food but also the laughter shared among us. LAUGHTER IS ALWAYS THE BEST THERAPY.