|Meal in a packet|
|I overdo the 5 spice powder but otherwise, it tastes pretty good.|
I just have to get this out so soon after the last post because I am breathless from a personal discovery.
There is a Chinese song that I was taught to sing when I was in kindergarten. It was about a little white boat and something about the blue sky. As a child, the song was repeated until all of us could sing it by heart.
I never knew the lyrics of the song. Years on, I occasionally play the tune even though by then most of the words have faded from my memory. All I remembered of it was a song about a little white boat.
That is, until I decided to look for the song online. 45 years on, that is. To my surprise, I discovered that it was not about any sort of boat . It was about the crescent moon sailing in the blue sky! What a laugh; I was picturing the wrong object all these years !
It was just an innocent song but it brought to mind how I have learnt so much things by rote and lost the pleasure of understanding what they meant. Rote learning has its place but for meaningful learning, it is best reinforced by studying it in depth at a later time.
Oh, and by the way, I realised that there are irregularities in the song. I would be hard pressed to see a 'rabbit' riding on a crescent moon which in turn is riding on the Milky Way in the blue (day ) sky.
For one thing, there is 'no place' for a ‘rabbit’ on a ( waning or waxing ) crescent moon. A crescent moon is itself barely visible in the day because it sets hours before sunrise. A crescent moon and the Milky Way also do not mix, because the latter can only be viewed on a dark, moonless night. Lastly, the crescent moon is seen in the low western horizon while the Milky Way is most visible at the southern horizon.
Now back to the dumpling.
With all the ingredients present in the raw form, I managed to make 10 dumplings in a record 2 hours, boiling included. Other than the wrapping which took me a whopping 10 years to master, everything else pertaining to cooking it is a cinch.
For those who love origami, this is the ultimate using bamboo leaves. Traditionally secured with straws, I used raffia because they do not snap easily and the choice of colors make good codes especially when you have folks who prefer different ingredients for the same batch of cooking.
Seasoning according to taste. Adjust to personal preferences accordingly.
2 TBSP fried shallots
2 cups of glutinous rice, soaked for 3 hours and drained
2 TBSP of 5 spice ( 1 TBSP recommended for a milder taste )
1 TBSP dark soya sauce
pinch of salt
2 TBSP shallots
2 cups pork, cubed ( thigh meat )
1 cup winter melon, coarsely chopped ( 2 cups if you love it sweeter )
1 TBSP 5 spice ( 1 tsp recommended for a milder taste )
3 TBSP rick dark soya sauce
pepper and salt to taste
1 cup of parboiled chestnut
200 g red bean paste
30-40 medium bamboo leaves, soaked and washed.
½ m long raffia strings.
To prepare the filling, heat a 1 Tbsp of oil in a wok.
Fry the shallots, pork and melon in this order until almost cooked.
Add sauce and seasoning , according to personal preference.
To prepare the rice, heat 1 Tbsp of canola oil.
Fry the shallots, followed by rice on low heat.
Add spice, soy sauce and salt.
Use bamboo leaves ( 2-3 for each dumpling ) and fold to form an open cone .
Form a letter C with your left hand and nest the leaves in the hollow of the left hand. You should have the longer end of the leaves facing the inside of the cone and you.
Scoop 1 Tbsp of rice and push it into the base of the cone
Add chestnut, red bean paste and meat in this order, 1 Tbsp of each ingredient.
Top with 1 Tbsp of rice.
Pat to compact the rice.
Use the right hand and fold the remaining part of the longer end of the leaf over the rice towards you.
Fold down the excess leaf at the 2 sides of the cone, using the fingers as guides to shape the corners of the dumpling.
Finally, bend the tail end of the leaf to the right to completely cover the dumpling.
Secure it with a raffia string.
When all the dumplings are done, bring a pot ( 20l pressure pot ) of water to a rolling boil.
Immerse the dumplings into the water, cover and cook under pressure for 45 minutes-55 minutes.
Best eaten fresh. To reheat, steam over a steamer.
Good even when frozen for 2 weeks.