Thursday, 24 March 2011

Food Glorious Food!

As I mentioned the other day I found myself in China Town at the weekend, so to switch things up a bit, I thought I do a food inspired post rather than a crafty one.

For anyone reading this that doesn’t know, I lived and worked in rural South West China for 2 years some time ago and loved, loved LOVED the food! I was lucky enough to live in one of the 3 chilli regions of China and the range of fresh (straight from the fields that morning), hot, salty and sour food was incredible! Since being back in the UK I haven’t been able to find anything even vaguely authentic so as often as I can, I cook up some of the dishes that my Chinese friends taught me.

Jiao zi (dumplings) are a favourite dish of mine and oh so simple to make.

They are a great Saturday night dish to cook up with family and friends as everyone can get involved in making them up. Heres a quick tutorial if you want to try them for yourself.

For approximately 50 Jiaozi (Myself and Mr. T manage about 15 each in one sitting) you need:
  • About 500 grams of pork mince (if you get some that has a bit of fat in it rather than the completely lean stuff it makes a nicer dumpling)
  • Several garlic cloves (finely chopped)
  • 3 or 4 spring onions (finely chopped)
  • 4 cm chunk of fresh ginger (finely chopped)
  • A couple of good pinches of salt
  • Soy Sauce
  • Chinese Vinegar
  • Chinese Cabbage or Bai Cai (finely chopped)
  • Fresh or dried chilli (optional)
  • One pack of Jiaozi Skins (round ones) like these…

You can get most of the ingredients in the average supermarket although the chinese vinegar and Jaiozi skins are well worth a trip to the local Chinese supermarket. I usually buy a couple of packs of the skins as the freeze really well.

Mix all of the mixture together with a few glugs of soy sauce, a decent glug of Chinese vinegar.

To make the gorgeous little parcels, get yourself ready with a floured plate or two, your mixture, jaiozi skins nand a bowl of water.

Take one of the skins, place a decent teaspoon full of of the mixture in the centre.

Next dip a finger in the water and baste around the edge of the jiaozi skin

Now comes the tricky/fun part – folding the jaoizi. What you are aiming for is a parcel that fully seals the meat filling inside the parcel so ultimately, so long as you fold the parcel and press the edges together hard you will be all good. To make the pretty half moon shapes however... first hold the skin in half and press firmly in the middle.

Next fold one side in (getting a bit of an overlap on the top side) and do the same on the other side. Now sqeeze the edges together.

(Bonus shot taken by Mr T catching me in the middle of cooking)

Place on the floured plate. Put on a nice big pan of boiling water (with a bit of oil in the top) and drop in the dumplings. I’d advise doing them in rounds so they don’t all stick together. They should only need to cook for about 3 minutes. They’ll float when cooked.

Serve with a dipping sauce (3 parts vinegar to one part soy sauce and a nice spoonful of chilli – adjust to taste) and if you are feeling extra ambitious some stir fried greens (cooked with garlic and salt).

Tasty - even if I do say so myself!

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