One of the strongest memories I have, is of my mother’s floury hands. How she swiftly kneads dough, rolls dough, fills dough, taking care to pinch the little wrappers together. Sometimes she added a pretty border on some of them, to my delight. I would always eat those dumplings first.
This is my childhood.
Ever since I was nine, I’d begged my mother to let me help her make the dumplings. I’d like to say she was patient, but after several rounds of “no, you’ll ruin the dough” she gave me a wrapper of my own with a little spoon to scoop up the filling. Then I would imitate her and gingerly pinch the wrapper around the filling. It wasn’t pretty. Flat. Lopsided. Wrinkly. Oozing. Sometimes it looked like a dead fish.
But I got better. Now I’m proud of my dumplings. Now my mother no longer worked alone. Now I have my own floury hands.
I wish I could give you the “family recipe.” But truth be told. There is none. Meat is vigorously stirred. Vegetables vehemently chopped. Soy sauce generously added. Sesame oil delicately sprinkled. It’s different every time. All depends on what’s in the fridge and judgment on what’s “enough.” No recipes involved. It’s an art form.
I never get homesick. I like living on my own. But sometimes I crave my mother’s dumplings. I know the “art” well enough now that I can make my own. Mine never taste just like hers though. Good but never hers. Everyone who has had my family’s dumplings claim it’s amongst the best they’re ever had. My father claims, each time we make dumplings, that this time it’s the “best ever.”
I always have to agree.