April 18th, 2012


Day Nine: Cat's Ear and 'Shaomai'

No, we aren't cooking cats today. 'Cat's ear' is the shape of noodles: pointed and curved like a feline ear. On the right are the ingredients for the soup that will contain the noodles: chicken breast, young bean greens, mushrooms and that ubiquitous multipurpose MSG-laden pink sausage that makes everything so savory. On the left is the stuffing for 'shaomai' (steamed dumplings with glutinous rice and mince inside).

Cat's ears have ribbed surface because they are rolled on a wooden hair comb (the one used strictly for cooking).

The resulting soup has gentle flavor and soft textures suitable for children and convalescents.

The professor is rolling out the dough and stuffing 'shaomai' dumplings.

In his hands they came out remarkably uniform. 'Bokchoy,' someone whispered, meaning the shape. The professor pretended to explode with indignation: 'Does this look like bokchoy to you?' Someone else corrected the error: 'Pomegranate.' This satisfied our mentor. 

It might not seem so, but sticky rice fried with lard and ground pork makes each dumpling a full-scale breakfast for quaint persons like me.

During pastry practice, I always find that genetic memory of Siberian 'pelmeni' comes in handy.

But the variety of dumpling shapes our team produced looked less like the standard 'pomegranate' and more like 'wild cabbage', 'Victorian bonnet' and 'nuclear explosion'.

Doesn't matter. Everything gets eaten, and what's not eaten gets taken home.