I made some extremely delicious dumplings on Saturday, then realized it was just in time for Chinese New Year!
When I traveled to Asia, (link to those posts at my About Me page! They’re fun!) I JUST MISSED Chinese New Year. (My guess would be that my dad booked tickets before the holiday because they probably jack up flight prices for it. Understandable.)
I have always wanted to get to experience the (I have a feeling) delightful lunacy of the holiday in Asia. According to my stepmother, her family plays Mah-johnng (spelled wrong, I am sure) until 2 in the morning. And the food sounds amazing. And parades! And red envelopes!
This is the year of the dragon we are beginning. The ultimate awesomeness in Chinese Zodiac! I point this out because I am a dragon :D But ACTUALLY, my mom had an acupuncturist who said that it is excellent luck to have a baby in the year of the dragon but if you are a dragon, you have bad luck during that year! Oh dear.
Anyway, in all honestly Steve and I did not plan a Chinese New Year celebration. We just wanted to go to HMart. Actually, I wanted to go to HMart because I wanted more dried shiitake mushrooms and had a guilty, carbon-hogger craving for tropical fruit.
Reason I love My Neighborhood #8235723464508902835
This is the shopping center where there is an HMart. It’s in an area with a lot of (vaguely) affordable apartments and a pretty healthy immigrant population (from all over). There’s also a place called “Chicken House Panaderia” where I have been known to impulsively buy horchata and yuca fries.
After buying Korean awesomeness at HMart, I noticed a woman who seemed to be selling drinks from a STEAMING container. Yknow, just hanging out in the middle of the parking lot.
It was cold and gross outside, and something hot looking called to me. I went “… Want to go over there?” and Steve agreed because like me he loves him some adventures in ethnic eating.
Well, the woman with the container and I had a delightful conversation (in Spanish! Of which she thought I was a native speaker!) about her native pais of Venezuela and its wonderful looking and smelling drink of elote y leche (corn and milk).
Steve, class act that he is, had cash and treated us to a cup to share, which we enjoyed in my car. (I felt guilty making Steve the environmentalist buy styrofoam, but we agreed, this woman probably could use the money, so it felt good to support her).
Plus, it was SO GOOD! Hot milk and corn!
On the one hand, it would be great to make this in the summer when the corn is ripe and sweet and wonderful. On the other hand, having it on a blustery winter day warmed our souls.
Back to Steve’s and we decided it was dumpling time. (Steve came up with the whole idea, which turned out GREAT!)
Filling was made by sauteeing in peanut oil (much less than would’ve been used had Steve been in charge of filling), oyster mushrooms (YUM! So huge and meaty), carrots, tofu, Steve’s homegrown green onions, fresh basil, and oyster and soy and chili sauces.
I got out our (green! How fun! No extra nutrients but they had spinach powder to make a fun color) wonton wrappers, and started a filling station, wetting the edges with a water/peanut oil mix.
Steve upped the ante by adding pieces of bacon to his dumplings (!). He said the bacon grease was great for making the sides stick together. And still has a lot of birthday bacon, because I am a good girlfriend :D
Oh, then he went ahead and proceeded to fry the (bacon filled) dumplings. In bacon.
I chose to boil the non-bacon ones that I had filled :D But it was fun having both textures!
Also at HMart, we took advantage of their (incredibly affordable and fresh) deli section and bought some premade things.
Pickled veggies, in ascending order of deliciousness from bottom to top of spinach, bean sprouts, and long green beans. Just salt and sesame oil. SO yum!
Annnnd Korean sushi, which is made exciting with the addition of black rice (!) and pickled veggies. Also imitation crab, spinach, and egg.
And our DUMPLINS!
The spinach wrapper turned out SO pretty looking. And won tons are so fun to make, cause though they take forevvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvver to fill, as I am freshly reminded every time I make them, they boil in seconds.
As for the fried ones, holy crap. Bacon stuffed wontons fried in bacon. Of COURSE they were amazing. They were amazing!
And bacon boy also made some collard chips (in the same style as kale chips) with soy sauce and bacon. Didn’t totally go, but we still ate them with chopsticks :D
Happy Chinese New Year!