Dumplings – baked or steamed


I’m not a fan of big movies. I was an independent filmmaker in a pre-child life. That’s part of it. I’m naturally contrary. That’s a contributing factor. I don’t like the big films that I feel like I’m supposed to like. Most of the time those big films also tell you how you’re supposed to feel – now you laugh, now you cry. They don’t bother with subtlety at all. It’s like they think we’re really thick. (They DO think we’re really thick!) I could go on and on, but I won’t (yet).

Sometimes a biggish film breaks through all of that, though, and defies expectations and makes me love it, despite my ornery ideas. I love Kung Fuuuuuuuuuuuuu Panda. I love both films, 1 & 2. Yes, it’s another tale of an unexpected underdog using unexpected physical force to defeat a bully who seems stonger and is really mean! Yes, that story has been told a bazillion times. But there’s something about Kung Fu Panda that rises above all of that. I asked Malcolm why he admired Po (the panda). He said, “because he’s happy all the time.” That’s exactly what I was thinking, although I’d used the word “cheerful” in my head. I love the fact that he doesn’t get discouraged, he doesn’t have a dark and brooding side, he doesn’t have an angry side. When he fights his stronger bullyish foe, he laughs. Even when he’s getting beaten, even when he surprises himself by doing well. He laughs! It’s so unexpected, so anti-drama, and yet it makes you care about him more, which makes it more dramatic. The other quality that I admire in Po, that you don’t see very often in your cooler-stock-hero characters, is that he’s a fan. He admires his cohorts so much that he’s bursting, he’s desperate, he’s glowing with the pleasure of being in the same space as them. Even when he should revel in being the best of the best, instead he’s a warm furry bundle of disbelieving gratitude at being in their presence.

We had a lot of leftovers from our black rice, black lentil, golden beet meal, and Malcolm asked if we could use them to make dumplings like in Kung Fu Panda. Of course we can! It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while. So I made the dough while Malcolm was at school, and we put them together when he got home.

The dough is quite simple. Traditionally, they’re steamed. I don’t have a bamboo steamer, so I used my vegetable steamer, which is not huge. I could fit 3 dumplings in there. I decided to bake the rest, because I’ve always wondered if that was an option. It is! They turn out lovely! Crispy, just the right amount bread-y. The steamed ones were nice, too. David said the steamed ones felt inexplicably lighter. You could put anything in these! Leftover beans or vegetables. Cheese. Just beans, just veg. Anything! Pretty much any filling for any savory pastry I’ve ever posted on this blog would work in here. I’ll give you a few suggested fillings, but…go crazy!!

Here’s Cee Lo Green with Living Again. Another unexpected hero!
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