Monday, December 31, 2012

Prawn and Ginger Dumplings



We spent the few days after Christmas in Inglenook, California (just north of Fort Bragg), at a little cottage tucked away down Beal Lane.  At the end of the lane, you can take a small path behind some Cyprus trees to emerge upon the most wonderful of sand dunes.  Rising up hugely, like hills, sometimes higher than houses, the dunes have that particular windswept cleanliness, the sides curdled then smooth.  For a ten-minute walk across the dunes, you are rewarded with the croak of frogs from a nearby river and the roar of the ocean you know is somewhere on the other side of the dunes, but you cannot see it.  A feast of sound and sand.



I walked there one evening with my father-in-law; we talked of ways to make one's life filled with more love and beauty, and I thought a lot about a dear friend of mine who is struggling right now with some major health issues.  She has been on my mind a good deal, and she is good and she is strong and she is determined.  The walk was long--we were out about two hours--but we saw only three other people, one seal, and an astonishing lavender sky. To be surrounded by sadness and frustration and good company and loveliness and a large, open sea: so ends this year.


When we returned from the walk, the husband and I made these very simple wontons for his parents in a small cottage kitchen.  In the next room, a wood-fired stove crackled and puffed, keeping everything warm in the two rooms.  The filling is almost exclusively shrimp, which at first might feel too ascetic; however, the simplicity of gingered shrimp came through in a comforting way.  We dropped the dumplings in a ginger-infused chicken broth to make wonton soup rather than dumplings (we did need to take the chill off from the walk), and I sliced up a quick cabbage slaw.  We sat around a too-tight dining table, knees and elbows bumping, while we drank good wine and talked some more.  Good soup or good dumplings are not cure-alls, but they go a long way to bring about more of the beauty and love that we talked about on the walk. 




And so we end this third year of the blog.  Much has happened in these three years, and I imagine at the end of three more years, I will look back even at this post and see a simplicity.  And that's a good thing.  A beautiful walk.  A bowl of soup.  A family around a too-tight table.   Thoughts of a dear friend.



One Year Ago: Duck Braised with Red Wine and Prunes
Two Years Ago: Irish Whiskey Fruitcake


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Prawn and Ginger Dumplings
Adapted from  Donna Hay's Flavours

Yield:
4 Servings

Ingredients:  
10 ounces raw shrimp or prawn meat, finely chopped
1 shallot, minced
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon sesame oil
20 wanton or dumpling wrappers
2 cups fish stock
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons chilli sauce
1 tablespoon sugar

Instructions:
1.  Place the prawn meat, shallots, ginger, lemon juice and sesame oil in a bowl and mix to combine. Place 1  tablespoon of the mixture onto a wanton wrapper and brush the edges with water.  Press the edges firmly to seal.

2.  To cook the dumplings, place the stock in a saucepan over medium heat and allow to rapidly simmer.  Place a few dumplings into the stock and cook for 3 minutes, or until the dumplings are cooked through.  Set aside and keep warm while you cook the remaining dumplings.  [We skipped this entirely, and put the dumplings in a piping hot pot of ginger-infused chicken broth.]

3.  To make the dipping sauce, combine the lemon juice, chilli sauce, and sugar and serve in a small bowl with the warm dumplings.   [The dipping sauce is quite good (we had it on another night). Don't be put off by the amount of chiles.  This is a hot sweet and sour sauce, and the wontons are good with a little kick.]




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