Why is it that when you give a group of men a job to do, it turns into a competition? It’s a universal truth and it’s well-documented in this photo of three New Zealand journalists intent on making the best dim sum dumpling at a Peninsula Hotel cooking class in Shanghai.
I warned my three travelling companions that I would ‘out’ them on my blog. Their colleagues at Metro, NZ Herald and Stuff News will be pleased to see how seriously they took every part of this week long all-expenses paid, 5-star-luxury media trip to Shanghai.
Note the concentration with which they are willing their dumplings into shape. It really was that intense and I was happy to count myself out of the race. (Having been taught how to do this on a previous trip to China, I could afford to be smug about my own attempt.)
The winning dumpling was made by the high achieving editor of Metro, Simon Wilson. It was a group vote; he would have been impossible to travel with had he lost. Besides, Duncan didn’t need anyone else to tell him that his dumpling was the best one really and Glen had already won his race (and a tidy sum) on the horses in Hong Kong.
As a woman and a mother, I’m bound to say their messy looking dumplings were all ‘very special’. They did taste pretty good, largely due to Peninsula Chef Lai Wing who had prepared all the components beforehand. His recipe is published below.
I’ll be writing more about dumplings and other things Shanghai in the September issue of NZ Life & Leisure.
The crucial ingredient here is the dough. Chef Lai Wing used a 50/50 blend of two types of flour. He didn’t speak English so I’m not absolutely sure about this but we worked out he was using rice flour and cornflour. I haven’t tested this recipe; try it at your own risk and let me know how it works.
500g shrimp meat
75g bamboo shoots, shredded
1 tsp salt
½ tsp chicken stock powder
90g vegetable oil
75g rice flour
1 tablespoon oil
Mix all filling ingredients together. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours. Mix flours together then add oil and enough boiling water to make a smooth dough. Use 10g pieces of dough (about 1 teaspoon) and form them into very thin discs. This was done with the flat side of a large cleaver – press down hard with the heel of your hand and turn a circle, first clockwise and then anti-clockwise. Put a little filling in each and seal at top to make a half moon. Pinch and pleat the sealed edge together to make a classic purse shape. Place dumplings in steam baskets and steam for 5 minutes until cooked.