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Monday, September 15, 2008

Dinner with friends

Dinner with friends. The perfect night in.

Our night started early, time for everyone to gather at M and L's and make dinner together: in one corner was the dumpling station, J using four folds in hers for a rustic look, M creating precise pleats just like a professional. Both learnt how to fold dumplings from their mother. They attempt to teach the rest of us with limited success. We laugh amidst the struggle.

At the counter are V and X, both folding spring rolls. In a wok on the stove sits L's soy glazed Shanghai duck, slowly simmering in a bath filled with star anise, green onions and ginger. The smell is intoxicating. So is the happy buzz of conversation.

Before too long there's a feast on the table and a huddle of hungry friends. Drinks are poured, sauces are swapped, and dishes are passed from hand to hand. And for only a brief moment, whilst our mouths are full, is there the sound of contemplative but contented silence.

Jiaozi dumplings ready for cooking

King prawn parcels tied with hokkien noodle

Boiled dumplings

Spring rolls

Pan-fried dumplings

Shanghai soy duck

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17 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 9/15/2008 11:40:00 pm


  • At 9/16/2008 6:57 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Just yesterday a friend and I discussed what a good idea it would be to have a dumpling party, a relaxed collaborative effort.
    This all looks wonderful, and fun.

  • At 9/16/2008 9:53 am, Blogger Annie said…

    Helen, that feast looks amazing! Did you save some for the rest of us?

  • At 9/16/2008 9:58 am, Blogger TheFragrantElf said…

    That is just wow. It looks absolutely amazing. I would love to be able to put a meal together like this.

  • At 9/16/2008 2:25 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Wow, how many dumplings were there?!? It takes me back to my childhood when we'd have friends over who were dumpling fiends. They'd make hundreds....yum....

  • At 9/16/2008 2:55 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Great photos. Looks like it was a super feast. Parties like this are excellent for passing on traditions and learning new techniques.

  • At 9/16/2008 3:46 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    damn that duck looks good. Willing to share the recipe?

  • At 9/16/2008 9:43 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Ooohhh home made dumplinnggs! I remember when I was small, my relatives would boil up some coins and put a few in some random dumplings and see who was lucky enough to bite into them.

    Mmm all that food is making me hungryyy

  • At 9/16/2008 11:10 pm, Blogger Rachel said…

    Yum! what fun and they sure do look professional. What sort of fillings did you use in your dumplings?

  • At 9/17/2008 1:18 am, Blogger Unknown said…

    nom nom nom that duck looks tasty!

  • At 9/17/2008 9:12 am, Blogger Y said…

    Wow looks like a feast and a half! Everything looks so perfect, especially the dumplings! I like the ties on the spring rolls - a very nice touch :)

  • At 9/17/2008 12:06 pm, Blogger M-H said…

    My mouth is watering. We used to make dumplings using your filing (pork and ginger). Haven't done that for ages. Hmmm...

  • At 9/17/2008 3:58 pm, Blogger OohLookBel said…

    Very tasty! And the 'little black duck' in the first pic looks cute...

  • At 9/17/2008 5:20 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Yes ! Share the duck recipe!
    Isn't dumpling making terribly dull? I can never get the right amount of filling to not tear the skins...Yours look fabulous!

  • At 9/17/2008 11:21 pm, Blogger ness said…

    helen, thank you for your sweet comments about my food blogs post. i write the food news page for a magazine and am actually highlighting you in an upcoming page for that too... i'd love to send you a PDF if you don't mind sharing your email address?

    oh and love the dumplings!

  • At 9/18/2008 12:44 am, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi lili - The best way to host a dinner party is to get your guests to help with dinner :) It all adds to the fun and as you say, creates a great convivial atmosphere.

    Hi Annie - Alas, no. There wasn't much leftover by the end of it!

    Hi thefragrantelf - The trick is to get everyone else to do it for you!

    Hi aptronym - It was quite insane actually. I think we had about 120 dumplings? I can't remember!

    Hi Veruca Salt - Yes I did learn a few dumpling folding techniques - yet to perfect them though!

    Hi Dan - I didn't actually make the duck; L did it with some telephone assistance from family! I have googled "Shanghai soy duck" and found quite a few recipes for it though.

    Hi ffichiban - Wow, I haven't heard of coins in dumplings - only in Christmas pudding! Sounds like a cute idea although I'd probably wash the coins like crazy beforehand!

    Hi Rachel - I was only a helper on the night (the night was hosted by M&L at their place, not mine). We had two types of dumpling filling - both pork mince, but one with prawns and the other with vermicelli noodles and garlic chives.

    Hi Belinda - Oh it was!

    Hi Y - I know, I love the Hokkien noodle ribbon tie. I think it's such a brilliant and gorgeous-looking idea!

    Hi m-h - I had forgotten I'd already posted about dumplings. I tend to make up my dumpling fillings as I go along. It all tastes good in the end!

    Hi Belle - Cute and tasty!

    Hi Jax - I usually make dumplings in front the telly, but making it with friends is fun - just lots of talking and gossip and before you know it, they're all done! As I mention above, I didn't make the duck but if you google "Shanghai soy duck" you should find plenty of recipes!

    Hi agirlcalledness - You're most welcome! I would love to read your article. My email address is at the top of the right hand column of this page. Float over "email me" and you'll see my details (somewhat disguised to prevent mass spam).

  • At 9/19/2008 8:32 am, Blogger Nora B. said…

    wow...I thought that this was a restaurant review, but it was all home-made. I am so very impressed!

  • At 9/23/2008 11:58 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi Nora B - lol. I'm sure M&L will be very flattered to hear that!


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