Posted by: zhak39 | October 19, 2005

Don’t Try This at Home

Recently I posted a recipe for Vietnamese Dumplings that was given to me by my good friend Kim and is featured in the FaithAction cookbook, Our Mixing Bowl . After the fall of Saigon, the educated Vietnamese as well as anyone connected with the Southern Vietnamese movement for democratic self-determination faced years of re-education and assimilation to the new government. In practical terms, this meant a reduction in status for themselves and their descendants. Teachers, public servants, administrators were largely relegated to agricultural pursuits in a country whose farming practices had not changed for millenia. After all, a rice paddy is a rice paddy and a stick is as useful a tool as it ever has been.

These individuals, though, had experienced a larger portion of the movement of the world than their predecessors. They were more widely read, many were professionals, they grew up under the influence of their native Asian culture tempered by the influence of Western Europe. This is particularly reflected in their cuisine, a marvelous amalgamation of local ingredients and techniques tempered with foreign styles and spices. It’s the best of east meets west.

Kim, a former French teacher, told me that she and her children pocketed dumplings before heading out to the rice fields. It was their mid-day meal. While only the size of a fist, it makes for surprisingly filling and balanced sustenance. The filling is the same as that which is used for spring rolls with the addition of a quail egg and some pieces of sweet sausage.

On Monday, my daughter Helen and I celebrated the end of her midterms by doing some shopping. One very important stop was the Mekong market, tucked behind TJ Maxx on High Point Rd. The gentleman who worked there was very helpful, showing us where the dried mushrooms were and even suggesting the substitution of green bean thread for ground pork since I don’t eat meat.

Upon arriving home, Helen and I immediately started chopping, shredding, giggling, and mixing in anticipation of a wonderful and special dinner. I must caution you, if you enjoy the ease and convenience of Chinese takeout DON’ TRY THIS AT HOME. Once you savor the light crunchiness of a real spring roll, you’ll never be satisfied with takeout fare. Since the fillings are the same, I make a double batch of it which yields 50 spring rolls and 18 dumplings–plenty to accompany a dinner of a simple stir-fry with leftovers for a week of lunches.


  1. I wish we could have been there for dinner!

  2. You can ruin me for Chinese take out anytime, Jac. How about next summer? Congradulations Helen on the completion of midterms!

  3. I think it’s a strange coincidence that Kathy and I left a comment at the exact same minute!

  4. That’s what I was thinking!

  5. From this perspective, from thinking of you in your homes and this new way of connecting, the coincidence is wonderful!

    Everyone is invited. Give me ten minutes notice or if you have your own menu requests, a half hour.

  6. This is a most mouthwatering post!

  7. Glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for visiting!

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