When we go out for Chinese food, Katherine always orders dumplings. She will eat any kind, but the pork-filled potstickers are her very favorites. Any time she is asked to list her favorite foods, dumplings are in the top 5. She dearly loves those little half-moon treats.
Kate's class is having a food tasting party tomorrow. Each child is supposed to bring a favorite dish and everyone will try a bite. Ethnic recipes are encouraged. Katherine handed me the note about the tasting party on Monday. I asked her what she wanted to bring. She shrugged. I asked if she wanted to take Chinese food and she nodded. What kind? Another shrug. She just looked at me and I could see the wordless plea in her eyes. I knew what she wanted. "How about dumplings?" I asked. Her answer was immediate - "YES!!!" accompanied by whoops of delight and much jumping up and down.
I found a recipe for pork dumplings and we went shopping for the ingredients last night. We could only find square wonton wrappers, not the round dumplings wrappers. But that really didn't seem to be a problem. In fact, it would solve the problem of trying to somehow crinkle the edges of the dumplings into the perfect little pleats they have in restaurants. We were ready.
Tonight, we cooked. Now Katherine and I have both made dumplings before, with Chinese friends and at China Camp. But we have never attempted dumplings on our own. So we knew we were in for an adventure.
We mixed ground pork with minced onion, ginger, brown sugar, rice vinegar, and sesame oil. It smelled like China... Then we put little scoops of the filling in the middle of the wrappers.
I felt terrible. Katherine had so wanted to share this favorite food, this little bit of her heritage. And it was ruined. But Katherine was undaunted. There was sausage in that pot. She grabbed a spoon and took a bite and grinned. Our stew looked awful, but it tasted just like dumplings. Delicious!
Katherine is taking a big bowl of deconstructed dumplings for the Tasting Party tomorrow. And she is perfectly happy with that. After all, they taste terrific. I wrote a note for her teacher to read to the class. I explained how much Katherine loves dumplings and how this was our first try at making them on our own. I described the cooking disaster. I wrote "Sometimes when you cook, things don't turn out like you wanted. That's okay. Our dumplings will be better next time. For now, take a bite of meat (it tastes like sausage) and a little bit of wrapper (it tastes like noodles) and just imagine a beautiful Chinese dumpling."
I can't wait to hear what the 3rd grade thinks of the world's ugliest dumplings. I'll bet no one likes them as much as Katherine does. But then, Kate understands that the best food is made with love. I'm looking forward to the next time we try to make dumplings.