Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Ugly Dumpling

This curious little fella might look appetizing to some, but to a trained eye he foretells of bad things that lie ahead.

Faux pork made with fried tofu skins
I'm working on the filling for my kimchee tofu dumplings. I hate to call it faux pork, but it’s as close as I can describe the flavor and texture. It’s made from fried tofu skins, Napa cabbage kimcheee (baechu) and a few other ingredients to balance the flavor. One of my Kickstarter investor rewards is a pictorial guide to folding six types of dumplings using round and square wrappers. This guide includes a few recipes for vegan filling. This mandu how-to has sprouted legs but should be finished very soon.

There’s a funny logic to numbers that is universal to Asian culture. Just as Americans have no thirteenth floor, Asians do not have a fourth floor. The number four, shi, is synonymous with death—an ominously unlucky word. I have a theory that this is why most Asians seize up at a four-way traffic stop. One would never serve a guest mandu or gyoza (crescent dumpling) with four folds unless they meant business... bad business. For that matter seven or nine folds are equally unlucky, they open “the gates of hell.”

The luckiest Asian number is eight and multiples thereof (24, 40, 88, 888, etc.) are exponentially lucky. Back to dumpling logic, five or six folds are OK but if you were skilled enough to make eight or ten folds even better. But what about numbers two and three? On their own they are considered neutral. But when multiplied with other numbers they exemplify good or bad luck. So if you’re not at all superstitious, eat through that dim sum breakfast like a war horse, but pray that the bathroom stalls are clean. This batch of vegan kimchee tofu dumplings is deep fried and ready for a test drive with vegetarian friend, Shuhei.

Now that’s one lucky dumpling. Eight well formed folds bring good luck and good eating to the table.

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