The Shriveled Dumpling Horror
Son’s last day of school. Potluck party in the 2nd Grade. I signed up to bring an entree-ish dish, and thought of chicken with cashews in a carved out pineapple (no, no, Doug, it’s easy, really) but shopping for the ingredients at the grocery store Benj suddenly decided that he wanted me to make dumplings. Hmmm… even though I had already done a fried wonton demonstration for their Chinese New Years unit (no, really, I’m not showing off, it was my civic DUTY) I thought it might be a nice dish, and easy to transport. After all, my younger sister Michelle whips up literally hundreds of dumplings on the spur of the moment, while simultaneously preparing a Powerpoint presentation and repainting her living room. How hard could it be? (yes, Doug, I know it’s easier to “just buy something,” but, really.) The teachers were very excited about what I was going to bring “this time,” and I didn’t want to disappoint. (I told you it’s not a competition, Damnit! It’s fun! It’s FUN!)
Started working on them about 10 PM (damn you, Season 2 of The Shield, now available on DVD). For my last minute shopping, couldn’t find the Chinese dumpling skins, so had to buy the thinner-skinned gyoza wrappers (which Michelle disdains). Didn’t let the filling really chill before I started in (oh, it’ll be fine…) Listened to “Left Right and Center” and started folding. The dumplings felt a little… soft, malleable, in my hands, but they pleated nicely and I was able to shape them into the requisite crescent shapes. Covered the completed ones with a damp dishtowel, which may have been a wee bit heavy for the dumplings. When I lifted the towel, the half already made looked, oh, a little depressed. Not horribly so, more… disappointed. Their frills had drooped into their bodies. Still, they were crescent-y enough, and I finished the rest more mindfully, so they were perfectly formed. 1 AM. Wrapped them and put them into the refrigerator to cook the next morning. Wrapped them and put them into the refrigerator to cook the next morning.
This is something you should not do.
Michelle explained to me the next day, during my phone confessional, that one must freeze the dumplings if storing overnight. One could also boil the dumplings, then refrigerate them to fry the next morning. Ah. This would have been good to know.
Hot oil ready, both frying pans preheated, an hour to cook and transport them to the school. Only, the dumplings didn’t want to go. They REALLY didn’t want to go, and stuck to the parchment paper, stuck to each other, stuck to my fingers, stuck to the spatula. They had the solidity of underbeaten biscuit dough. I managed to fry them up anyway (Put that twenty away—I’m not calling PF Changs! NO!). They luckily still browned and didn’t leak. Unfortunately, they looked like little lumps you might find sifting through your cat box. No, actually, they eerily resembled the bucket of live mealworms writhing in All-Bran that Benjamin brought home for a summer science project:
I have brought shame upon my family. We may have to transfer schools.
Update: Yes, they were all eaten. Yes, they still tasted good. Still, must prepare banquet for 3rd Grade…
Wow, that was an educational piece. I never knew about dumpling storage requirements myself.
I'm going with larvae. Which may actually have made 'em more of a hit with the 3rd grade set.
OK, well I learned something…
Oh, disgusting comparison. Worms are my worse nightmare! I won't be able to look at dumplings the same again. I just get mine from Trader Joes.
Sometimes it really is just better to buy them. And don't tell. Not even Benjamin. Shhhhh.
Adriane, I'm shocked, I tell you, shocked!