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Wrappers, Wrappers, Wrappers ... They Call Us the Wrappers
July 26, 2012 - Phyllis Sigal
We were all singing "The Rapper"* by the end of the evening at Sandscrest Conference and Retreat Center earlier this month.
It may have been our new-found confidence because we just learned how to make Chinese dumplings. Or it may have been the accompanying wine.
But whatever it was, our group had a wonderful evening creating three kinds of dumplings, a few sauces and learning proper cooking techniques. The class was taught by Sarah Lydick, director Sandscrest and chef extraordinaire.
Our group of about 10 had won the cooking lessons at a silent auction during the Crittenton Services "Paint the Town Pink" fundraiser earlier this year.
So we all arrived, ready to dig in. And dig in, we did — with both hands.
Sarah had started the dumpling filling concoctions by chopping up the veggies for the vegetarian dumpling, and placing some of the ingredients in bowls for the crab rangoons and for the simple pork dumplings.
We split up into groups and started throwing in a dash of this and a teaspoon of that and blending up the mixtures before the actual folding and shaping of the dumplings.
We used pre-made wonton wrappers, which made the process very easy.
Sarah then demonstrated how to fill the dumpling, and various ways to crimp and shape our little delicious pockets.
One of the most important things to do when making a dumpling is to moisten the edges with water to help seal it. If the dumpling edges are not sealed properly, the filling will spill out when the dumpling is being steamed or fried or boiled.
Once we had dozens of little packages stuffed, folded, crimped and sealed, it was time to cook them.
Dumplings can be boiled, steamed, fried then steamed or deep fried. Each technique gives a different result.
We deep-fried the crab rangoons, for a crispy morsel.
We fried the remaining dumplings in a little bit of oil to brown their bottoms, then carefully added water to the hot pan (very carefully!) to let it finish cooking in a steam bath.
Sarah also made a peanut sauce and a soy-ginger dipping sauce.
Then, it was time to dig in again; this time, with our mouths!
Our dumplings were delicious! And of course, we students were not only filled with dumplings, but with pride in our accomplishment.
I was amazed at how easy they were to make.
In fact, I bought ingredients to make a batch at home and made 50 dumplings in my own kitchen this week. I combined a couple of different recipes and used ground chicken instead of pork.
They are easy, but time-consuming. It helps to have 10 or so people stuffing the wrappers! But the time is worth it, and now I'm already coming up with a myriad of fillings for the wonton wrappers.
(*FYI, "The Rapper" is a certified-Gold song from 1970 by the Pittsburgh band The Jaggerz." Coincidentally, The Jaggerz will be in Wheeling on Friday, July 27, from 5-6:30 p.m. at the Upper Ohio Valley Italian Heritage Festival on the Heritage Port Stage.)