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What's Cooking?: The Year of the Dragon

 

Happy Belated New Year!  Based on the lunar calendar, Chinese New Year came early this year on January 23, 2012.  The Year of the Dragon is considered very lucky especially on my father’s side where at least four generations of family members were born in the Year of the Dragon.  Our personalities seem to reflect this.  We are quite an intense lot; short-tempered, and passionate about things.

As with any beginning, there is a remembrance of things in the past as you welcome the New Year.  Chinese New Year celebration and its preparations involve so many cultural rituals passed on.  There are lots of dos and don’ts just to promote a lucky and prosperous future.  Besides the festive dishes we come to expect and look forward to each year, I await with anticipation the bite-sized dumplings, and dim sum pastries my mother made.  There was always a sense of community in preparing these “dim sum pastries” as the womenfolk share their recipes or teach each other how to make them.  My favorite was the deep fried pork dumplings made with glutinous rice flour.  The fried dough is light and crispy on the outside with a delicate chewy texture.  The fillings range from savory to sweet.  I prefer the savory with the bits of pork and shrimp.  These similar dumplings are translucent and almost fragile when steamed.  My mouth just waters thinking about them. 

Dim sum literally means “touch the heart or a bit of heart”.  These pastries are time consuming to make, and take less than a minute to eat but they are so delicious and worth every bite.  I really do appreciate the time my mother took to prepare these unforgettable morsels.  My mother was not born in the Year of the Dragon like my father, brother, my niece and I were.  She was born in the Year of the Horse and was probably too impatient to be saddled down for days of cooking preparations.  Nevertheless, duty calls as she diligently followed the New Year traditions.  My mother was not a cook but once a year she excelled in this culinary skill and her family was impressed by her performance.  In memory of my mother and because of her, I will always remember the dim sum specialty dishes that she made that touched my heart.

Dim Sum: The Art of Chinese Tea Lunch by Ellen Leong Blonder

The Dumpling by Wai Hon Chu and Connie Lovatt

Chinese Dim Sum published by Lee Hwa Lin

Asian Dumplings by Andrea Nguyen

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