Chinese New Year Feast-Many Hands Make Light Work

Everyone pitched in to make tonight’s feast.  Well, everyone but the cats.  They were busy napping, and would have helped themselves to some of the dumpling wrappers had we let them.

We made four dishes:  vegetable dumplings, steamed buns, chow mein, and bitter melon.

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Dumplings

The vegetable dumpling recipe came from The Woks of Life, which is a great Chinese food blog.  I highly recommend it.   Well, mostly came from that website.  The wrapper recipe definitely did.  For the filling, all I had was carrot, napa cabbage, and some silken tofu.  Add in a little onion, garlic, soy sauce, and sesame oil, and that’s what went in to this batch.

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Steamed buns

The wrapper for steamed buns is yeast-based, so when they get cooked in the steamer they turn into delicate, puffy clouds.  They’re rather difficult to keep sealed, though, as you can see.

The kids and my wife all worked on the dumplings and the buns.  I was surprised at how quickly they could fold the dumplings and fill the buns.  I fell behind rolling out the dough for the buns, even though I started that process when they started with the dumplings.  Clearly, many hands make light work.

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A whole lot of bitter melon

I am a big fan of bitter melon/bitter gourd/caraili.  The kids…not so much.  A few weeks ago I made a recipe from Trinidad and Tobago in which you stuff the bitter melon with meat or soya and pan fry the gourd.  It was pretty good.  For tonight’s version, I took some advice from The Woks of Life and blanched the chopped bitter melon in water with salt and baking soda.  (This is the bitter melon in the ice bath.)  There’s still a bite to it, but it did mellow the bitterness nicely.  Ikinji said he actually liked it, which is surprising, since he’s the pickiest (out of some pretty non-picky eaters).

Sorry, no pictures worth posting of the chow mein.  Think wok-fried noodles with some random greens thrown in and you’ve got it.

Too much food, really, but that just means leftovers for lunch, and probably for dinner at least once this week.  Not a bad way to start the lunar new year.

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