Sometime last year I suddenly became enamored with the idea of eating dumplings. They are just so cute and self-sufficient, and I wanted them in my belly. As a vegetarian, I've never had dim sum or traditional dumplings because they usually have meat in them. I tried the only veggie option at a local spot in Oakland and promptly (and arrogantly) decided I could do it better myself. Initially I planned to use the pre-made wonton wraps, as I figured the dumpling dough would be complicated. Turns out its literally just flour and water....so I decided to make that myself too. When it comes to prep, you technically just need a steaming contraption along with something to make the dumplings not stick. Traditionally, a bamboo basket is used to steam the dumplings and they are lined with cabbage leaves to prevent sticking. The type of steamer can actually affect the taste of the food - so I opted for bamboo to enrich the flavors rather than use my stainless steel steamer basket that might give a bit of a metallic taste. Equipped with a shopping list and an unwarranted level of confidence, I set off to the Chinatown market!
Lucky for me, Oakland Chinatown is not terribly far from where I live so I sauntered over one sweltering summer morning to get my goods. The market was pretty busy with everyone bargaining and gossiping. I picked up some veggies and new sauces to try, and worked my way around the market scene for a good hour asking about where I could find cooking supplies. Finally I got a tip about a big restaurant supplies store around the corner that would have the bamboo steamer basket. I walked in and was literally in heaven - not only did they have multiple sizes of the basket ranging from a single dumpling basket (cutest thing I've seen in my life) to massive ones that could probably hold 30 at a time, they also had aisles and aisles of cute tea sets, chopsticks, incense, and more. I tore myself away eventually and headed home to get started.
Mixed Veg Chinese Dumplings