Sunday, February 19, 2006

xin nian (belated) kuai le!


Happy Chinese New Year!

(I'm a little behind, but i hope that you have taken advantage of this time to read my previous post about the Bakery Cafe at Haley House.)

So the Year of the Dog officially began on Sunday, January 29 (solar calendar), and it was 4 days of non-stop partying for me. It began Friday night, when I split eastern-style chicken tenders (with sweet and sour sauce) at Chef Chow's with 10 or so friends. Our marathon banquet highlighted Peking duck, which was served wrapped in pancakes filled with scallions and slathered with hoisin sauce (which I have learned today to be a "combination of mashed soy beans, vinegar and flour, seasoned with garlic, chili peppers, sesame and salt" - good to know, I love that stuff). Unfortunately, the banquet did not include a stir-fry or soup (traditionally duck is served in two or three courses). But the roasted duck was definitely better than the one I had had at Quanjude in Beijing last fall. I was happy. For a more detailed account of our meal (and other wonderful stories about local restaurants in Boston), please visit, from my good friend and fellow foodie Bridey.

Sunday night I went with my family to what I have personally decided must be one of the best Chinese restaurants in Boston, Shangri-la (at least for Taiwanese-style food). Happy for my mom, it is located in Belmont. Happy for me, it is modest, unassuming, and still relatively undiscovered. Note: The Taiwanese brunch is particularly good here. Order the silken tofu with preserved thousand-year-old duck egg, topped with pork sung (fluffy, shredded dried pork) and scallions. Sounds gross but is totally awesome. I swear.

On Monday, the Design Strategy Practice at Continuum had our own celebration. I don't know if it will become a yearly custom for our group to celebrate Chinese New Year, but I do see it as a progressive and open-minded tradition to embrace. I approve! Can I also suggest having a Seder at some point? I enjoyed two Tsingtaos with my meal. I have to admit that when it comes to Asian beers, I like Sapporo much better. (Please do not take offense, my people - I realize that some still cannot avoid mixing beer with politics.)

But it was Saturday night - New Year's Eve - that I hope will set the culinary tone for this upcoming year. Simple, delicious food, prepared with people I love. Saturday was dumpling (jiaozi) day at home. My family hadn't made dumplings from scratch for years, but my dad felt inspired this year, and he whipped up three types of fillings - pork and bok choy, beef and chives, and pork and chives. He also made fresh dough for the wrappers from flour and water. Fresh wrappers make all the difference.

I really cannot take much credit for the delicious boiled dumplings that resulted, but I did fully participate in the wrapping process. I believe you can learn a lot about a person by how they wrap their dumplings. Look carefully, and you will see that everyone has a different way of wrapping dumplings, even if they learned from the same master (in my case, my grandmother).



PS. If you should happen to be a Dog, please try to be extra vigilant, as this may be a tumultuous year for you. Wear red clothing to ward off evil spirits (don't be surprised to see George W. flashing some red flair on C-SPAN - he was born in 1946, year of the dog).
PPS. Hint - should you be stricken with a dumpling craving minus the motivation to wrap your own, check out Wang Fast Food in Somerville, MA for a bag of frozen dumplings (my favorite - pork, shrimp, and leek).


Anonymous said...

I really enjoy reading your Blog.
The jiaozi (餃子)you made looks very professional. nice pictures!
新年快樂 (xin nian kuai le)
I hope the Chinese characters will show up on your blog.
Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Like your blog style. Your jiaozi looks delicious.

Anonymous said...

there is nothing can beat 水餃!