Posted by: zhak39 | October 3, 2005


When I was a kid we just kind of drifted in and out of each others houses and ‘cross-culture’ happened naturally. Where I grew up there were a lot of people of Italian descent that still had the gestures and style of an older world. I guess these experiences were so meaningful because we weren’t dropping in to gawk nor were they an intellectual exercise. We were just there, together, enjoying our similarities and differences. And the food! Pasta fagioli! Baccala! and for Easter breakfast, the unbelievably calorie and cholestorol laden Fritatta!

While I celebrate the opportunities we have to sample authentic dishes from around the world brought right to my doorstep through a wide variety of wonderful restaraunts, something in me craves a deeper connection. Luckily, diversity has hit main street and it is not difficult to find a guide. The medium is food and mentors abound.

Guilford County has some great specialty food stores, particularly for Latin and Asian cuisines. While I get most of my basic spices from Deep Roots, just up on the corner of Spring Garden and Pomona is an excellent Asian market. While I have had some language difficulties, the people who work there have been very accomodating. They have a multi-lingual staff and last weekend there was one young man who spoke English. (A hint–if you’re an English only speaker like me and you’re in a store where no one seems to speak it, find a customer who is between 10 and 14. I’ve never failed to get excellent advice from teenagers). They have a great variety and their prices are about half what you find in the major stores. One thing that I have noticed at every Asian market I’ve been to–they have shown my children the utmost affection. As babies they were cooed over, as toddlers they were surrounded by rich delighted laughter. Now as pre-teens/teens, they elicit a smile and a fond compliment to me. It gives me an almost embarassing satisfaction, you know, like sucking on a Ghirardelli brownie.

So you know where to go, what do you get? The ingredients marked with * are available at most Asian markets.

Vietnamese Dumplings


1 lb ground meat (usually pork)
*1 plg dried black mushrooms
1/2 lb carrots, shredded and with the moisture pressed out
5 stalks celery, sliced thin
1/2 lb shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped
1 egg
1 tsp vegetable oil
1Tbls sugar
1 tsp salt
1 Tbls dried garlic
1 tsp freshly ground or cracked black pepper

Now here’s the tricky part. At the Asian market look for a package called ‘Banh Bao.’ Basically, this is Jiffy or Bisquick, Asian style. So you need–

*2 pkgs Banh Bao

Mix like it says on the package. It’s just a baking mix with yeast in it so you have to let it raise.

After raising, pull off a handful of dough. Roll it into a 6 inch oval. Put 2 Tbls filling in middle of oval. Press into filling

*1 quail egg

Whoa–wait a minute. A quail egg? Yup, they come in cans, they’re inexpensive, and while they’re really little they have a great flavor.

Arrange around filling five slices of

*Chinese-style sausage

Pinch together the edges of the dough around the filling. Seal the top.
Repeat until you’ve used all the dough and filling.

Steam over water with

2 Tbls vineagar added.

Don’t crowd the dumplings as they will rise again as they are cooking. Steam for at least 1/2 hr to make sure pork is cooked through.

In case this recipe peaks your interest, you can find more than 150
more authentic recipes in the book ‘Our Mixing Bowl’ which is available at the Greensboro NC agency FaithAction. One of the nice things about this collection is all the recipes are from local people. The only continent not represented is Antarctica. The books are $12, $15 with shipping. Their website is or you can send them a check to FaithAction Cookbook, 705 N Greene St, Greensboro NC 27401


  1. What a great post! Yes, you are on a roll now. Hee.

  2. Yeh, too bad I can’t make any bread doing this.

  3. […] 19. Steamed pork buns […]

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