Emily and her husband supplied most of the necessary goods. They bought pre-made wrappers (square for wontons, round wrappers for dumplings) from an international grocery store. For the filling, we mixed up a huge bowl of minced pork, dried shrimp, water chestnuts, spinach, mushrooms, garlic, ginger, michu (Chinese rice wine), salt and sugar. Emily then fried a small wad of this mixture to make sure it was edible.
Once we got the okay from E, we proceeded with our wonton and dumpling making lessons. The difference between our wontons and dumplings was the shape: wontons are round and resemble a tiny hat, while dumplings are a half moon shape with pleats at the top. Emily’s husband very patiently showed how to fold our wontons: you place a small lump of meat mixture in the center of the wrapper, fold it in half into a rectangle, take two of the bottom corners and fold them underneath so that the edges curl. If you cannot picture this, it is okay. I would have a very difficult time repeating this on my own but thanks to Google, I did find some pictures to refer to. Let’s be honest, my future as a Chinese wonton maker is probably a worthless dream to pursue.
We then boiled the wontons in a soup that consisted of onions, dried seawood, dried shimps and dried anchovies and seasoned with fish sauce and sugar. Just to make it appear “healthier,” Emily tossed in a cabbage as well. We then moved onto the dumpling making portion of our evening. To make the dumplings, we pinched the edges of the round wrappers together. Again, this lesson has quickly faded from my memory and I probably could not repeat this if someone handed me the tools right now. The dumplings were pan fried with sesame oil into a wonderful crispy parcels.
The next hour or so was spent stuffing our faces with our fantastic creations until our bellies hurt. Cousin gatherings usually start with us catching up with recent life events, and almost always end with us discussing our GI tract and stomach pains. Just because we were at my aunt’s house did not mean this get together was any different. By the time I left, I had unbuttoned my stretchy jeans and was contemplating a week long fast. Obviously this urge did not last more than twelve hours.