This is Henry. He’s about 3 1/2 years old and experiencing his first Asian dumpling. Many of my friends started families not long ago and consequently, it’s been difficult for us to schedule normal adult activities. For this Year of the Dragon, I decided to bring the ‘adult’ activity of making and eating dumplings to a couple of friends and their kids.
I made a big batch of filling, some of which I used on Monday and Tuesday. There was plenty leftover by Wednesday, when we had a 5pm cocktail hour date with Diane and John (Henry’s parents). We typically bring over a bottle of wine along with nuts or cheese and bread to nibble on. This time, my husband and I walked in with:
- Pork and napa cabbage dumpling filling in a tub (Asian Dumplings, p. 31)
- Basic dumpling dough in a zip-top plastic bag (I made it in the food processor 1 hour beforehand, see p. 22 of the book for the recipe)
- Tangy soy dipping sauce in a small jar (mixed it before I left the house, see p. 215)
- A little extra flour in a zip-top bag
- A dowel rolling pin
- Tortilla press
- Bottle of wine to facilitate the process
Diane was thrilled that it was time for some vino and delighted that we’d be making dumplings. She owns the Asian Dumplings cookbook but hasn’t had enough time to hone her skills.
We formed an assembly line on her counter with my husband pressing the dough in the tortilla press, me rolling out the wrappers, and Diane filling them. Henry and his brother Will did their kid thing – run around and have fun.
The counter was cramped so I set up two side-by-side cutting boards and the three of us squished into the space. It was fine as the wine kept flowing.
I left my bamboo spatula for scooping up the filling at home, figuring that I’d use a knife, fork, or spoon. To my surprise, I discovered that Diane’s baby spoons are perfect dumpling scoopers. The traditional bamboo spatula doesn’t stick to the filling, making it easier to deposit onto the wrapper. The silicone bowl of the spoon functions in the same way as a nonstick surface.
It can be difficult to find the bamboo spatulas abroad but the baby spoons are readily available. I explained the dumpling tool discovery to Diane and she promptly gifted me the spoon. She understands and appreciates my geeky ways with food. :D
John came home from work and poured us more wine as we cooked the dumplings up into pot stickers. Henry and Will ran to the table and settled into the spots that Diane set up for them. They quizzically looked at the pot stickers for a little bit, then Will (who’s about 1 1/2 years old) asked for what sounded like “soup.” Diane and I interpreted that he wanted the sauce that us adults were spooning onto our dumplings. Will likes to be in on adult action. Diane sprinkled regular soy sauce onto his plate. He tasted the soy sauce with his fingers then wandered off to draw.
Henry lingered longer over his dumpling. These photos capture his reaction to his first pot sticker:
The Asian dumpling amused him. Henry liked playing with it, especially after John cut it open and showed him that there was something special inside. At the end of the line, Henry liked the soy sauce a bit more than his brother. He licked his plate.
I suppose that that was his seal of approval, and hope to feed him actual dumplings in the future. Actually, we're all looking forward to getting the boys to make them too!
His parents were nevertheless happy. We’d filled ourselves with dumplings, wine, and cheer. It was a good way to launch the new year.
Got stories or tips on introducing kids to dumplings or Asian food? Please share!