Today I made Chinese dumplings - bau. I love bau, but until today I've only ever bought frozen ones.
Let's go back in time, back to when I was a 15-year-old squirt with my first Saturday job, doing food prep in the kitchen at the local Chinese. I wish I could say I learned to cook there, but in truth I mainly learned how to chop buckets of mushrooms and onions! But I did get to try things like mooncake, and learned to reduce ingredients to paste with a cleaver. Knowing I was working there, some elderly friends of my mum gave me a Chinese cookbook, which they'd bought in Hong Kong. It's called The Cuisine of Cathay by Genia Lee, and it was scary. Such strange ingredients, the likes of which you'd never find in the tiny town supermarket. No matter how many onions I'd chopped, I wasn't about to try anything from the book, though I'd look at the pictures and dream of making such delicious things.
Fast-forward a quarter of a century. Mr Robot and I have been exploring Asian cookery more, and have amassed all sorts of ingredients. Suddenly, The Cuisine of Cathay isn't scary at all. In fact, it's probably more user-friendly than a lot of Asian cookbooks we own, as it was made in a time when a lot of Westerners hadn't had much experience of cooking Asian foods, so Genia Lee starts out by describing various ingredients in depth, from various kinds of rice to different types of bamboo shoot (gwei-giew, spring, fuzzy and more) to melons and gourds and more greens than I'd know what to do with. She doesn't make too many concessions to western tastes, though: sea cucumbers and fish maws are in the ingredients section, and the very first recipe calls for a dozen duck feet.
|We get through buckets of spring onions nowadays...|
|You have to make the dough thinner at the edge, so it's not |
too thick when all pinched together.