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April 18th, 2012

Day Nine: Cat's Ear and 'Shaomai'

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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).

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

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

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

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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. 

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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.

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

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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'.

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