On Friday, instead of bumming around at home, I gathered my friends together for a dumpling and scallion pancake party. They’re the two appetizers that I always HAVE to order at Chinese restaurants, but here on the Cape they often appear gummy and unrecognizable (surprise, surprise). I’ve been deprived…so something needed to change.
I told everyone to bring beer, and ran to the grocery store for last minute ingredients. Dumplings from scratch, as delightful and satisfying as they are, require a bit of manual labor. It isn’t hard, but it goes 100 times faster if a few people are there to help. I gave everyone a quick demo…
Then we dove right in. My heart secretly burst as I watched my friends show each other little tricks and tips as they gained dumpling confidence.
Here’s Ben showing Lish…
And Lish with her first lovingly crafted dumpling:
Meanwhile, with the dumplings underway, people rotated in and out of scallion pancake duty. (I very roughly followed this recipe, simplifying it a TON). I made the dough and scallion mixture before everyone arrived, then had one person roll out the pancakes while another fried and then served them to the hardworking crowd. This wasn’t planned, but it sort of worked out perfectly: while everyone worked on perfecting their dumpling technique, they got to snack on hot, oily scallion pancakes. They went FAST.
The assembly line (beer helps)…
As the dumpling-making hit a stride, we set a pot of water on to boil and heated up a skillet. They were boiled for 4 minutes, then fried on each side.
One thing I’ve come to learn about dinner parties: people like to have jobs, and generally prefer to be put to work. It can feel a little awkward standing around while one person slaves over dinner, but at the same time, it’s easy to get in the way of the cook, and actually end up being more of a nuisance. Generally, if I’m hosting dinner and friends ask me what they can do to help, I’ll tell them to grab a glass of wine and tell me about their day. Dumplings and scallion pancakes work so well because everyone has their own task, so toes aren’t being stepped on, and the hostess actually isn’t tempted to scream “get out of the kitchen!!!”
Towards the end, we all sat around the table to eat a few more dumplings with rice and salad. It felt like a meal well earned. Thank you, friends!
(If you’re wondering, I used the dumpling recipe on 3 Chairs, and if you’d like to know my variation of the scallion pancake recipe, let me know and I’ll post it! To make this party happen, the two things you absolutely need are flour and rolling pins. We had three handy, which kept things moving at a steady pace).