Dinner

It was my turn to cook the dinner for Chinese New Year this year.

We didn’t want anything too elaborate.  It was already a busy day.  Most of the traditional foods, therefore, were omitted.

At 7:15 I began by mincing an ounce of fresh ginger, and then placing it in a small glass bowl and combining with rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, a touch of white pepper, and a dash of sugar. I wanted to let the vinegar work on the ginger for a while, so that the flavor would infuse the liquid. I would have chopped some scallions to add to the mix, but I had none on hand.

Then I dinked around on fb for a little while.

Around 7:40, I started a large pot of water boiling, and then started to clean a pile of Chinese broccoli. I then removed the stems, separating them from the leaves, and set each aside in different bowls. I cut the stems into two-inch segments.

Around 7:45, I heated a small amount of olive oil in our large wok. When it was hot enough to make water dance, I added the broccoli stems and stir-fried them for a minute, and then added a bit of sriracha sauce, and then a few lumps of black-beans and garlic sauce. When the sauce had liquified, I reduced the heat and added a few ounces of water to the wok and covered it for a few moments to let it steam. After a few minutes of intermittent stirring, I placed the broccoli and reduced sauce in a covered bowl so it would not be cold by the time we sat down to eat.

Around 7:50, I heated a larger amount of corn oil in the wok, and then introduced the broccoli leaves, stirring them constantly until each leaf was coated with the hot oil.  I then reduced the heat, added a bit of salt and fresh black pepper, and a small amount of fermented black bean sauce.  I let it simmer for a few moments until all most of the moisture was out of the leaves.

While the broccoli simmered, I started to heat oil in frying pan to cook dumplings.  We did store-bought dumplings this year; my wife didn’t want to go through the rigamarole of making them from scratch.  It’s the sort of thing that requires time from the whole family, at least in the incompetent labor-intensive way we make them.

I removed the broccoli from the wok and place it in a second bowl.  I then lined the frying pan with pork and shrimp dumplings and covered the pan while it slowly heated up.

By this time, the pot of water was at a steep boil.  I added a dollop of oil and a dash of salt to keep the dumplings from sticking, and then dumped in a bunch of chicken dumplings.  (My older daughter does not eat pork, and she prefers her dumplings boiled instead of pan-fried.)  I then increased the heat to bring the water back to a boil, and then turned my attention back to the frying pan.  I checked every minute or so to see whether the dumplings had started to brown on the bottom, and whether the oil was getting too hot.  When the dumplings started to show signs of browning, I added half a cup of water, which made its usual dramatic sizzle, and then covered the pan to let them steam.

I checked on the pot.  It wasn’t boiling again yet, nor were the dumplings floating yet.  I stirred them gently to make sure they weren’t clumping together too much.

After a few minutes, the water from the frying pan had mostly evaporated, and the skin of the pan-fried dumplings was soft.  I added a second half-cup of water and let them steam a little longer.

My older daughter finished setting the table and poured drinks for everyone.

Soon the dumplings in the pot were starting, one by one, to rise to the top, and the water neared boiling.  I added a cup of cold water and waited for them to boil again.  In a few minutes, they were ready to serve.  I fished them out of the water with a slotted spoon and placed them in a serving bowl, and them placed them on the table, in front of my older daughter’s place.  She sat at the table, eying them hungrily.

I removed the cover from the frying pan and let the last moisture evaporate from the pan.  As it started to sizzle again, I turned off the heat and placed them in a serving bowl.

At 8:15, my wife and younger daughter had come home from gymnastics and were washing their hands.  As they seated themselves, I placed pan-fried dumplings and the ginger sauce on the table.

Then we feasted on the dumplings and broccoli.

At approximately 9:00, my wife lamented that she had forgotten to tell me that she’d also bought some dragon fruit.  I guess we’ll have that tonight.

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