One of my favorite things to do when my friend Judy comes to town is go to dim sum. She always knows all the best places. When we get there she rattles off our order in frantic Chinese and points at various carts and the kitchen...and Voila! amazing little, piping hot dishes start materializing on our table. One of my favorite dishes to indulge in at dim sum are the dumplings- especially the har gau (shrimp dumplings), xiao long bao (soup dumplings) and jiu cai bau (chive stuffed dumplings). My mouth is watering just thinking about them! So when I found out that UC Davis was offering free dumpling making workshops, I was excited and registered right away. If you read my previous post back on Dec. 16th, you probably remember me discussing the Confucius Institute, a partnership between UCD and Jianghan University in China that opened in the fall of 2013, to promote a better understanding of Chinese food and culture. [Interesting fact: Chef Martin Yan (of Yan Can Cook fame) is a culinary advisor to the program.] Well, I finally got to attend one of their dumpling workshops and it was a blast. The workshop was informative, interesting and the instructors were extremely nice.
Our workshop was led by Sa (Sally) Woo, an Associate Professor at Jiangnan University and instructor at the Confucius Institute at UC Davis. You can't help but like Sally right off the bat. She's bubbly, friendly and very patient. She started off our workshop with a brief but informative lecture on the origin and development of Jiaozi (Chinese dumplings). We then watched a quick video on dough and filling making.
Once we moved into the cooking facility, we were divided into groups of four to a table/burner. We were given a handout, a bowl of dough, pre-prepared filling, a mini rolling pin, and various other kitchen tools that we would need to make our own dumplings. Sally then had us gather around her and she showed us step by step how to cut and roll out the dough, place the filling in the dough and then various ways to close the dumpling. She showed us four different decorative edges we could make to seal the dumplings. Then we were give ample time to try out our newly learned techniques for ourselves while she and her assistants walked around and helped. Once we were done making our batch of dumplings, we were showed the proper method to boil the dumplings so that they get cooked evenly. This was a pretty quick process and then we got to eat the fruits of our labor. I've eaten a lot of pan-fried and steamed dumplings in my lifetime but I have to say the boiled dumplings we had were just as tasty - and so simple to make! There was even a condiments table set up so we could mix up our favorite dipping sauce concoction.
I went with two friends and we all had a great time. I plan to use my new dumpling making skills to make a few batches of dumplings to celebrate the Chinese New Year.
If you're interested in learning how to make your own dumplings, check out the Confucius Institute's webpage:
All the dumpling classes for this quarter are full at this time, but you can get on their mailing list so that you know when registration opens up for next quarter. The Confucius Institute also offers workshops on tea and paper-cutting, as well as language classes.