Cultural adjustment/adaptation is one topic that you’d expect to have with people who have moved countries. But what I find really interesting is how we can adapt cultures in the form of small traditions or holidays, into our own, even if we haven’t lived in the countries.
We’ve been celebrating Chinese New Year for as long as I can remember. And we don’t have an ounce of Chinese in us anywhere. Granted, our celebration is probably not very traditional, but we’ve taken snippets and made it our own.
Without fail, every year, we bring out our Mah Jongg set, to be used as an oracle–interpreting the upcoming year. We read through our horoscopes in the Chinese Horoscope book-the rabbit (me), the horse (my sister), the snake (my mom) and the sheep (dad). Although he scoffs at our believing in the whole horoscope thing and sprouts off statistical information as to why it shouldn’t be believed.
What we all connect over though, is the food.
Foods like whole fish, long noodles, mandarins, nian gao (year cake), and jiaozi dumplings would be commonly served by the sounds of it.
What we serve comes down to time- plenty of time, we’ll do several vegetarian, chicken and rice dishes. Rushing last minute? We’ll whip together a noodle dish, throw some pre-made spring rolls into the oven, and call it a day.
One of the foods mentioned in The Joy Luck Club is wonton soup. I’ve never been much of a soup person, but I’ve taken a liking to this dish–mostly the dumplings. It takes a little bit of prep work to prepare the wonton dumplings, but the results are worth it.
- 8 cups Chicken stock
- 3-4 dried shiitake mushrooms
- 200g pork mince
- 1 tps powdered ginger
- 2 green onions, finely chopped (keep some aside for garnish at the end)
- 4 water chestnuts, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon caster sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornflour
- pinch of pepper
- 24 wonton wrappers
- a finger bowl of water
- Boil water, and in a small bowl, pour over the shiitake mushrooms to rehydrate.
- Drain the mushrooms, and squeeze the excess water from the mushrooms.
- Remove the stems and finely chop the mushrooms.
- In a large bowl, mix together the mushooms, pork, onion, water chestnuts, soy sauce, sugar and cornflour.
- I use a glass cutting board as my work surface. Take one wonton wrapper and place it on the cutting board, with a pointed corner facing towards you.
- Have a damp (not wet) teatowel, and use it to keep the unused wonton wrappers covered while you work.
- There's different ways of folding wontons. The way I did was like little envelopes. You can google how to fold a wonton wrapper for images.
- Take a teaspoon worth of the mixture and place in the centre.
- Dab some water onto a finger, or use a small pastry brush, and run it along the edges of the wrapper.
- Take the wrapper corner closest to you, and fold it straight up, to form a triangle with the wrapper.
- Press down and make sure the edges are together.
- With the long base of the triangle closest to you, dab a bit of water onto your finger, tap it onto those two corners, and pull the two corners into the middle of the wrapper.
- Set aside and finish the rest of the wontons.
- In a large saucepan, bring to a boil the chicken stock.
- Cook a few wontons at a time for about 4 minutes.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove (cover in a bowl to keep warm), and continue cooking the rest.
- Place the wontons into serving bowls, and ladle broth over the wontons.
- Garnish with some green onions and serve.