Each week, The Medium chats with a UTM professor about one of their favourite recipes.
In my search for our professors’ best recipes, I was given a lead that professor Lawrence Switzky of the English and Drama Department knows more than just modern drama and video game narrative (the subjects of two of his UTM courses); he also knows how to cook—and well.
He decided to share his recipe for the classic dumpling: Chinese jiaozi. He explains, “I’ve been told that ‘jiaozi’ translates to something like ‘coin purses’, because you pleat the tops of the dumplings to make them look like, well, coin purses.
“I learned how to make jiaozi during a lonely time in my early twenties,” he continues. “I was taking a year off after college and writing textbooks for a small publisher in Hsinchu, Taiwan. I could count in Mandarin and repeat a few stock phrases from a guidebook, but other than that, I couldn’t speak the language. I spent most of my days composing short dialogues using basic English vocabulary and my nights buying and listening to every David Bowie CD I could find in the city.” Sounds like a pretty exciting life, if you ask me, in comparison to long rides on MiWay transit, navigating the crowded Davis hallways, and taming the temperamental Blackboard system.
“I had a friend named Suzanne who said she would teach me to make jiaozi. We ventured into a subterranean night market for the ingredients and then spent hours stuffing, wrapping, and then eating piles of them. It was the first time I felt at home in that city,” he said. I sympathize. Whether it’s a new recipe like that of jiaozi, or care packages of mom’s chocolate chip cookies, there’s nothing more settling than food.
“There are many variations between cooks,” says Switzky. “Since I’m a vegetarian I don’t use pork, though that’s the standard recipe, but substitutions are welcome. This is great to make with a group of friends so you can share the dumpling folding labour.”
With midterms approaching, I know exactly what—aside from an embarrassing number of hours spent creeping on Facebook—I’ll be doing to rid myself of stress and procrastinate. And I’ll be doing it one dumpling at a time.
Jiaozi (Chinese dumplings)
- 1 package of dumpling or wonton wrappers
- 2 green onions
- 4 to 5 cabbage leaves
- 6 shiitake mushrooms (“or any other ‘meaty’ mushroom you like”)
- 1 to 2 tbsp (15 ml) soy sauce
- 1 tsp (5 ml) fresh ginger root, minced
- 2 tsp (10 ml) sesame oil
- salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
- Finely chop onions, cabbage leaves, and mushrooms.
- Mix vegetables with soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, salt, and pepper.
- Lay each dumpling wrapper on a dry surface and gently wet the edges.
- Place about a tablespoon of the vegetable mixture in the centre of each wrapper, fold the wrapper over the filling, and secure the top of each dumpling by pinching it closed at the top. (Switzky says, “The best pinches usually look like pleats where you fold the dough all along the top until the dumpling is entirely sealed.”)
- Boil a large pot of water. Put about one third to half of the dumplings in the water and stir, then remove them with a large spoon, preferably a slotted one.
- Repeat with the second and/or third batch of dumplings.
- Serve with gyoza sauce or other dipping sauce of your choice.