90 minute Zoom Artist’s Talk and Cooking Lesson hosted by the VAC Clarington’s “Be My Guest” series on May 16, 2021
The VAC Clairington’s Be My Guest Series is a program of monthly casual conversations that bring together artists, writers, and curators speaking about notions of community, spirituality, and ethics through mediated engagements with food and drink pairings. Before each conversation, participants will receive a menu with instructions to gather affordable ingredients in order to prepare the recipes for each engagement in their homes.
In May 2021, Elaine Tin Nyo hosted a virtual visit to a rustic french cooking school (The Kitchen at Camont) for drinks and dumplings and to chat about our complex relationship with our non-human relatives: pets, domestic livestock, zoo animals and wild animals. How do they define us? Why are some so cute? Why are some so delicious?
Recipes below were written by the artist and provided to the participants along with instruction on the nuances of cocktail architecture and working with dumpling dough during a free form discussion with topics ranging from food taboos and cannabalism to how to freeze extra milk for a rainy day.
The Canadian Sunset Cocktail (in a Gascon Rose Garden)
Inspired by the Kitchen at Camont’s rose garden, I developed this drink as a wink to my Canadian hosts and an homage to Wes Montgomery’s version of the popular song.
Good quality gin
A pinch of Saffron
A dry Saké (or dry vermouth), chilled
Rose Tea (Yogi Brand)
Fresh, untreated rose petals, optional
Cocktail shaker or a mason jar with lid
A cocktail jigger, a shot glass or something else to measure your booze
A barspoon or a tablespoon
A small glass jar or bottle to infuse the saffron
A second glass vessel to infuse the tea
A tall glass like a highball glass or a champagne flute
Prep for Zoom:
At least one hour before serving the cocktail, measure the equal volumes of sugar and gin into a small glass jar or bottle. Add a generous pinch of saffron. Cover and squirl around until the sugar dissolves and the saffron colors the liquid. Set aside. You can prepare this several days ahead. In fact, I make 250 ml of this at a time and keep it in the freezer (for emergencies).
10 minutes before: Measure the gin into a glass vessel, Add 1 rose tea bag per 3 oz. Allow to steep.
Meanwhile make sure you have enough ice. You’ll need enough to prepare the drink and fresh ice for your glass.
I’ll show you what else to do when the zoom begins.
Dumpling Wrapper Master Recipe
You can buy special dumpling flour from your Asian grocery. The protein content of all-purpose flour varies from country to country. Look for a flour with about 10-11 % protein content. The AP flour here in France and North America tends to be softer so adding the egg white and salt help with the consistency.
350 g all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt (1.3 g)
170 g lukewarm water
1 egg white
Large mixing bowl or salad bowl
A small rolling pin
Dissolve the salt in the water. Add the flour to a large mixing bowl and make a hole in the center, add the salt water and egg white to the hole, mixing with your fingers until it forms into a rough, shaggy dough. If your bowl is large enough, continue to use the bowl as the kneading surface. Alternately, turn the dough out onto a lightly dusted surface to knead it. Either way work the dough until it is smooth and feels like a gummy bear. Cover it and let it rest for at least 15 minutes to a couple hours. (You can prepare your filling during this time.)
Now the fully hydrated, relaxed dough will be easier to work. Knead it a little more to work out any lumps. It should feel super smooth, resilient but not hard. Sort of like your ear lobe.
Divide the dough into 24 portions. This is my favorite way achieve this: Make a hole in the center of the ball. Stretch this doughnut to form a loop cut the loop in to make a log. Divide this log into three logs then cut each log into eight pieces. If you suffer from OCD, you can weigh them to make sure they are all the same. Toss each ball in little flour to keep them from sticking and cover them while you roll them out.
Roll out each wrapper to 8-10 cm in this manner: Flatten the ball of dough into a disk with the palm of your hand. Use one hand to hold part of the disk up off the surface. With the palm of the second hand use the rolling pin starting at the edge roll into the center of the disk and out again, using more pressure on the edge than the center. Rotate the disk with the other hand with each pass until all the edges are rolled out. The wrapper will be thicker in the center than the edges.
I roll and wrap as I go. Some people roll out all the wrappers first, then stuff them. Ideally, it’s a team sport with one person rolling while the other on wraps.
To fill, place the wrapper in the cup of your palm, press about a tablespoon of filling in the center and fold the nearest over the filling and pinch it shut. For boiled dumplings you want to go for a rounded shape, for pot stickers you want to go for a longer, crescent shape. There are many ways to achieve this, I’ll demonstrate a few in the video.
Meat Filling Master Recipe
The recipe below can be used as a template for your own filling. Replace the pork with any other meat, poultry, fish or seafood. The chives can be replaced by other flavorings.
Classic Pork and Chive Dumpling
500 g ground pork
2 Tbsp (30 g) Chinese cooking sherry
1 Tbsp (15 g) grated ginger
2 tsp (10 g) soy sauce
A bunch of garlic chives (about 50-60 g), finely chopped
In a large mixing bowl mix together pork, sherry, ginger and soy sauce (I use my hand). Continue to stir in one direction for several minutes until all the liquid is absorbed by the meat and the filling looks sticky and sort of stringy. Then mix in the chives. Set aside while you roll out your wrappers.
In this recipe, partially cooked eggs are used to bind the filling.
35 g milk
1 cup chopped fresh herbs
Whisk the eggs, milk and a pinch of salt together and set aside.
In a medium skillet heat 2 t of cooking oil over medium low heat until a drop of water sizzles and skips across the pan. Pour in the egg and cook stirring for 3-4 minutes until the eggs form fluffy curds but is still slightly runny. Transfer to a mixing bowl to cool. When cool enough to touch, gently mix in the remaining ingredients with your hands. Use stuffing for boiled dumplings.
For Boiled Dumplings
Large pot (a wide pot is best)
Slotted spoon or “spider”
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Stir the water to make a vortex and drop the dumplings in one at a time. Work in batches, don’t crowd the pot. When the water comes back to a boil and the dumplings float to the top, add ½ cup of water to reduce the temperature, bring back to a boil, temper once more. Fish out the dumplings with a spider. Repeat until all dumplings are cooked.
For Pan-Fried Dumplings
2 Tbsp (30 g) All-purpose flour
2 Tbsp (30 g) white vinegar
240 g water
Nonstick Skillet (medium-sized)
Thin, flexible spatula
Whisk the vinegar and flour together then whisk in the water set aside. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, add oil. When oil is hot, add 6-8 dumplings to the pan (don’t crowd them). Pour just enough of the flour mixture to come one third of the way up the dumplings. Cover loosely, increase heat for a minute, then lower to medium for 2-3 minutes, then lower heat again to low for another 2-3 minutes. Cook until all the water has evaporated and thin crispy, golden brown film forms. Take it off the heat and loosen this crispy disk around the edges with a spatula. Carefully flip the whole thing onto a serving plate. Wipe out the pan and continue with the next batch of dumplings.
Serve with your favorite dipping sauce. I like: Chinese black vinegar and grated ginger; homemade chile oil; light soy, rice vinegar and garlic; and store bought sriracha.