Pork and Pumpkin Jiaozi

After running Tuesday morning, and then biking to and from work, for some reason I thought it would be an excellent idea to join Bambi and Ginny in working out lowers in the early evening. I am taking this getting into shape thing seriously, it seems. Afterward, the three of us managed to eat an entire package of pasta with the sauce I made Monday, and two heads of broccoli that I lightly steamed with some garlic and soy sauce. I’ve got to get into my head the proportions for cooking for three people, and two of them giants, since I’ve been so used to cooking for just myself or my little sister.

With no lessons planned for the day, I made a whole mess of dumplings on Wednesday. I was working off memory of Chairman’s amazing pork and pumpkin jiaozi without ever learning how to make them, and never having made the skins from scratch before. It was an interesting experiment, and not entirely bad.

Chopped celery and grated pumpkin for filling

For the filling I used two packs (probably about a pound?) of ground pork. Normally, when making making won tons with my mom or the dumplings I’ve made before, I put in as much shrimp all chopped up, but Bambi doesn’t eat seafood in China because he’s afraid of the heavy metal and toxins.
I ran out of scallions, so I very finely chopped up a little bit of onion to substitute. The requisite garlic, as well, and I grated in ginger. I used about half a smallish pumpkin, peeled it, cut it into manageable chunks and then grated it. For a higher vegetable content, I finely chopped up a couple of stalks of celery as well.
Some cooking wine, chicken bouillon, salt, white pepper, soy sauce and a few dashes of Magi seasoning. Mixed that all up and popped it in the fridge while I dealt with the skins.

This is easy. About two cups of flour and half a cup of water. Next time I’ll add a pinch of salt and possibly other seasonings, and a bit of egg. I did this entirely by feel, kneading it all together until it was firm lump of dough. After a bit of a rest, I rolled it out into a cylinder, cut off small circles, then rolled them out. Unfortunately, I don’t have skills in the shaping department, they came out all sorts of wonky shapes. Also, I used normal flour instead of dumpling skin flour and not enough water, so they were a bit tough, and not as light and springy as Chairman’s.

I pan fried a couple to eat, and steamed some for Ginny later, but froze the rest. Ginny thought the skins dried out when I overcooked them, and I thought that the filling was a tad on the dry side when I fried them (the addition of shrimp would help this immensely). For a first try, not half bad, but there’s definitely room for improvement.

After all this standing up and cooking, my muscles were beginning to protest in reaction to the abuse from the day before. Ginny and I met up with Bambi at Dongzhimen for dinner before Frisbee, and the journey there was excruciating. And then pick up…running was the worst. Movement. Everything hurt, especially my quads, whenever I moved or bent or breathed. We had second dinner at Xinjiang again. Instead of getting dapanji, we ordered a large dish with a similar sauce, with grilled wedges of naan bread on the bottom, and stewed vegetables and bits of on-the-bone lamb. It was good, even if not my favorite way of eating lamb.

After all the working out and being on my feet forever, I was the tiredest panda, and ended up falling asleep sitting up watching Top Gear. Disoriented, and poked awake by Bambi, I sort of stumbled to my bed.

Today I had a leisurely day of lesson planning and catching up on news and for lunch I decided to be extra ambitious and made the hand rolled and cut noodles I had learned at the Kitchen, since both Ginny and Bambi were home for the day. I discovered, while rolling the dough out, that my hands are actually bruised from pressing on the rolling pin these past two days. Painful, but I persevered. I overcooked the noodles so they were a bit gloppy when they drained, but still tasty, with the tomato and egg sauce I made. I bought a stainless steel wok at Dongjiao, and I am so pleased with it, since before I had to use the Teflon coated, oddly textured wok left to us by Bambi’s old roommate. The strange checkered texture caused everything to stick on the “non stick” surface, and you’re not supposed to heat Teflon pans on high heat without anything in them, or strange chemicals start to burn off. Since most Chinese cooking technique requires that you heat an empty pan on high before adding oil, I highly suggest investing in a good stainless steel wok and just seasoning it properly.

I also made a batch of pan-roasted chickpeas for snacks, since I like snacking but don’t want to start eating chips and cookies and overly processed unhealthy things as is my wont to do. I tossed them with olive oil, salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, a bit of paprika, and when I put them in the wok, tore up a few dried red chilies. I overcooked one batch, but the boys liked them burnt and crispy so it didn’t matter.


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