“Mamta, do you mind if I call Shan Chang for dinner this Saturday? He has been insisting on tasting Indian food.” Ullas, my husband reminded me for the third time in the week.
“You can call him anytime but what do I cook? We eat a lot of spice and their food is so bland.” I said matter of factly.
“Cook what we eat normally. He just wants to experience our food.”
With some trepidation to cook and serve to our Chinese friend, I made Maharashtrian style Baingan ka Bharta, Andhra style Rasam, some Puries, Stuffed Okra, Raita, and Vegetable Pulav and Rice Kheer for desert.
Chinese people usually have early dinner and have very little.
Shan Chang was my husband’s colleague and a good friend. He used to stay in a different city little away from Taipei and used to commute every day to his workplace. Today, he decided to come for dinner and stay with us.
Our association with Taipei came when my husband decided to do his post- doctoral research under Dr. Sui at Taipei National University in agricultural chemistry. I was working full time in India but had come to set his place in Taipei as his research would need him to be in that place for little longer time. Shan Chang made sure that he tastes the authentic Indian food before I leave for India and made his plan.
Shan Chang arrived at our flat two hours early when my husband had gone out for some personal work. I had no other option but to invite him in. A very warm and cordial person, he offered to help me with the dinner preparation. He witnessed the Purie preparation and was in complete awe of the entire process and very admiringly felicitated me as India’s best chef in the language that they least understand, that is, English but our only mode available to communicate.
I felt I have done my bit to impress my new found Chinese friend with my cooking skills. However, I could not hold that thought for long as our dear friend made a very delicious Chinese food vegetarian dumpling
He made the finest quality of dumplings. From the dumpling skin to stuffing ingredients made from fresh cabbage and cellophane noodles, the mouth-watering dumpling was a spot on! It makes you eat more, and you think probably one or two is enough? Wait till you add the chilli sauce, then you will find it hard to resist the temptation for eating more! Delicious is an understatement to describe it!
Here’s how to make Vegetable Dumplings. (Recipe courtesy- foodnetwork.com)
Vegetable Chinese Dumplings
Prep: 50 min
Cook: 12 min
Yield: 35 to 40 dumplings
1/2 pound firm Tofu
1/2 cup coarsely grated Carrots
1/2 cup shredded Napa Cabbage
2 tablespoons finely chopped Red Pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped Scallions
2 teaspoons finely minced fresh Ginger
1 tablespoon chopped Cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon Soy sauce
1 tablespoon Hoisin sauce
2 teaspoons Sesame oil
1 Egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
Bowl of water, plus additional water for steamer
35 to 40 small Wonton Wrappers
Non-stick vegetable spray, for the steamer
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.
Cut the tofu in half horizontally and lay between layers of paper towels. Place on a plate, top with another plate, and place a weight on top (a 14-ounce can of vegetables works well). Let stand 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, cut the tofu into 1/4-inch cubes and place in a large mixing bowl. Add the carrots, cabbage, red pepper, scallions, ginger, cilantro, soy sauce, hoisin, sesame oil, egg, salt, and pepper. Lightly stir to combine.
To form the dumplings, remove 1 wonton wrapper from the package, covering the others with a damp cloth. Brush the edges of the wrapper lightly with water. Place 1/2 rounded teaspoon of the tofu mixture in the centre of the wrapper. Shape as desired. Set on a sheet pan and cover with a damp cloth. Repeat procedure until all of the filling is gone.
Using a steaming apparatus of your choice, bring 1/4 to 1/2-inch of water to a simmer over medium heat. Spray the steamer’s surface lightly with the non-stick vegetable spray to prevent sticking. Place as many dumplings as will fit into a steamer, without touching each other. Cover and steam for 10 to 12 minutes over medium heat. Remove the dumplings from the steamer to a heatproof platter and place in oven to keep warm. Repeat until all dumplings are cooked.