Those of you who have been reading for a while will know how much Les Petits Chefs LOVE to make dumplings and how fortunate they are to have worked many times with Vanessa Yeung of Aphrodite Cooks (see the bottom of this post for a list of all the fabulous sessions Vanessa’s given with the boys) who has taught many of them to love (making) dumplings! I was sad Vanessa wasn’t able to make it out this week to make dumplings with the boys for Chinese New Year, but I found a recipe I was quite keen to try (and hey, I have the benefit of all Vanessa’s lessons too!) and I asked a Petits Chefs alum, Russell (Grade 7) to come and help the boys out. He’s somewhat of a dumpling expert – he learned from his grandma – and I knew he would be the perfect guest instructor for the guys this week (plus, I know he’s better at forming the dumplings than I am, so he would be a better teacher than me!).
This recipe is for a pork and Chinese cabbage filling for the dumplings, however, we “freestyled” a bit this week. Couldn’t find Chinese cabbage so we used regular and the boys were instructed to chop very fine strips). Russell was a wonderful helper for the mise en place stage too – showing a few boys some fine knife skills with garlic!
More “freestyling” happening below – the recipe does not call for the filling to be cooked before it’s placed inside the wonton wrappers, however I am always very conscious of the time (and the fact that I am no dumpling expert) so to avoid any raw meat going home, we cooked the meat and veggies beforehand, cooling it down before we started to fill the wonton wrappers.
When I asked the boys “How come I can freestyle a recipe?” their answers included such gems as: “You’re a chef”, “You’re an adult”, “You’re on Food Network” “You’ve been cooking for a really long time and you know what to do”. Yeah, ok, something like that!
After the filling was cooled, we got to the fun part…
Honestly, each time the boys make dumplings, Miss Carter and I marvel at the calm, methodical work stations we see. Everyone is SO engrossed in what they are doing. I think I have said it before but I definitely need to incorporate more dumpling making into my French classes (actually Grade 6 does a Café Théâtre in Term 3 with foods from around the world and last year, Russell’s group did dumplings (of course!) which were a huge hit with the parents (and the boys!).
With Russell’s guidance, the boys made some pretty special looking dumplings:
As the boys were making these, I was taking the finished ones and simmering them in boiling water for a few minutes until they floated to the surface. The boys liked watching to check if they were done as they “swam” to the top 😉
Et voilà – the end result!
Most of these dumplings didn’t make it home. Many of them didn’t make it 5 metres outside the lab door! I’d say that was a success. One little boy brought his home to his mum who emailed me thanking me for her dinner that night 🙂 And then a couple of nights later, one of the mums let me know that all three of her sons (two Petits Chefs and a much younger brother) were making dumplings for dinner. And they apparently ate something like 15 each! And the little brother took the leftovers to school the next day. Stuff like this makes me so proud and happy to hear. If Jamie Oliver is all about “passing it on”, and I am even a tiny part of why those boys wanted to make dumplings at home on their own, well I feel like I am doing my job as a Food Revolution Ambassador!
We’re so thankful to Russell for giving up his own time to come and help out – we hope you will come back soon!
You can find the recipe in the January 2014 issue of Jamie Magazine.
Other posts about the Petits Chefs making dumplings you might enjoy:
Vanessa Yeung cooks Soi Gau and Ginger Chicken Potstickers with Les Petits Chefs
Vanessa Yeung makes Siu Mi and Mango Salad with Les Petits Chefs
Vanessa Yeung makes Bison and Pork dumplings and Coconut Tarts with Les Petits Chefs
Vanessa Yeung makes Cold Rolls and BBQ pork and chicken crisps with Les Petits Chefs
Vanessa Yeung makes potstickers and steamed dumplings with Les Petits Chefs