Saturday, April 23, 2011

Dumpling Date Night

For the past couple months, I've been working part time at my friend Jo Horner's cooking school, Create a Cook. Jo and I met online, through Universal Hub, I think... She needed some office help, and I needed extra income. So... it's a match made in heaven.

That, and her iPod can read my mind, so it makes not for a "work" day but an "awesome" day.

Last night, Doug and I took one of the classes offered at Create a Cook. We joined up with some of Jess' friends who are still in high school, and we did Date Night: Dumplings.

A few weeks ago, one of Jess' friends had complained on his facebook wall that he was trying to make dumplings and failing. So I asked Jo if he and another friend (since it was Date Night) could do the class. Then I thought "Doug and I deserve a date night!" so Jo put us in too. There were two other couples in the class, and aside from the fact we knew Catie & Chris, no one else knew each other.

We made four styles of dumplings: wontons which were immediately put into a soup; shrimp and chive folded with a shark fin style seal and then steamed; shu mai, which was like a little box or bag, steamed; and finally potstickers, which were fried on the bottom and then steamed on the top.

The ingredients were all pre-sorted for us, so we didn't have to measure out things like ginger and green beans, shrimp and chives. But we did all the chopping, cutting, fine mincing and mixing of liquids and spices to make the fillings. The instructor taught us the different folding techniques, and we talked about gastronomy, styles of food from different regions, spices and spiciness.

Instead of preparing all the food and then sitting and eating at the tables in the lobby, the way most date night dinners end, Lilly cooked our food and we ate as we went. She thought it was a better option so we didn't all faint by the time 9:30 pm rolled around. This was a very wise choice. Out of each of our batches, she cooked up about 8 dumplings, and the rest of the prepped dumplings were placed into the freezer so we could bring them all home and cook them here. So our freezer is now filled with joy, four different styles of dumplings ready for us to whip up when we want.

Doug didn't quite master the wonton fold, but I rocked it. He was the king of the other three styles of folding, and I kind of started to get good at the potsticker style by the end of the batch. Of the four, I loved the filling on the shu mai the best. Lilly whipped up a spicy soy/sriracha dipping sauce that was simply perfect with each of the three dumplings that didn't end up in soup.

We had an excellent time, and I had fun running around taking pictures. The other couples were sweet and we had a lot of laughs. Doug is now asking all kinds of questions about what other kinds of classes we can take. All told, this was a great thing to do as a couple. So rarely do we get to work side by side in the kitchen anymore, so it was a blessing to have this time together.

Full photo essay available at my flickr stream if you would like to waltz through.

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