Toasting to the Tiger by Chef Katie

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The year of the Tiger is upon us and the year of the Ox has passed.  Recently my friends and I celebrated the Chinese New Year.
Since I have never really made Chinese dumplings and/or dim sum we just winged it, looking up recipes and buying Asian ingredients.  Our menu consisted of pork dumplings that were pan fried (Guo tie), crabmeat rangoons, vegetable tempura (which I know is not typically Chinese, but I wanted to deep fry stuff), spicy sesame cucumber salad, Chinese sticky white rice and fresh shrimp or tofu spring rolls (called runbing in Madarin).  My roommate and I realized that it takes a lot of work to make perfect looking dumplings, rangoons and spring rolls, because ours definitely didn’t look the best but tasted great!  My roommate had a heavy hand with the pork filling which caused a problem when trying to close up the dumplings and the rice paper for spring rolls was hard to work with simply because you need to keep it moist, once they are wet they are so pliable that they stick easily and rip. 
Luckily, our friend Kristina saved the day and taught us how to make them look better, the way her mother and grandmother taught her.  Another insight to the sticky rice was using short grain rice versus the jasmine rice we had cooked.  Overall, it was a great experience learning how to cook in a different way than I normally do.  It has made me explore other cuisines that I am unfamiliar with and try out new recipes.  Even though sometimes you may fail or don’t make something perfect, you should always attempt to learn and once you’ve mastered it you can be proud of yourself.

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