Dumpling and Christmas (2)

previously on Dumpling and Christmas: (1)

Different cooking philosophy

Here comes the interesting differences between Chinese cooking and Western cooking. When we came to US, my wife and I were amazed by the similarity of baking a cake and doing a chemistry lab.

Chemistry Lab

Historical photo of the Chemistry Lab on Quehanna Site Facility

1950 Retro Home Ec Mrs. Perfect Baking Cakes

1950 Retro Home Ec Mrs. Perfect Baking Cakes

Every step involves calculation and measurements. The result can be strictly predicted and reproduced. When we go out for dinner with our American friends, a sentence I noticed is “hmmm, this is exactly the taste I was looking for.” You see, this sentence implies that western culture believes that cooking is like a science. When you create a delicious dish, you can optimize the recipe and it should be reproducible.

Now let me tell you what my mom taught me about dough making for dumplings: first, the amount of

flour for dumpling making

flour for dumpling making

flour needed is based on the number of dumplings you want to make or the number of guests you have, this is calculated. 500 g flour can make about 80 to 90 dumplings. Here comes the tricky part: no body gives the precious amount of water you need. Some recipe says the amount water is about half weight of the flour. My mom says just take a bowl of water and add little by little while mixing and kneading.

kneading the dough for dumpling

kneading the dough for dumpling

Until you feel the “force” is right, stop adding water and let the dough “awake” for half an hour and then knead it again. The Chinese way of cooking always involves “insincere” (拿捏). Chinese don’t look for an “exact” taste every time. Chinese wants a perfect taste fits the mood of that moment. To Chinese people, cooking is more like an art than a science.

A kindly reminder: please, please remember to clean up your nails and wash your hands thoroughly before touching the dough. 🙂

To be continued, tomorrow 8 pm, Dumpling and Christmas (3) 

%d bloggers like this: