Sights, Sounds and Beyond!
It is mesmerizing how the many countries of Asia have combined the past and the future, the idyllic with the fast-paced, wide open countryside with metropolis blazing with lights.
It’s a discovery of verdant landscapes and flowing fields, chock full of shrines, temples and palaces, each thoroughly steeped with a rich history and diverse cultural heritage. Ancient farming villages surrounded by mountains or simple fishing villages beside the fertile Mekong Delta share with every visitor a simpler, more peaceful appreciation of life.
Contrast this with the futuristic, fast paced, hi-tech cities of Shanghai, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Singapore. Confidence and energy soars high as a multitude of architectural obelisks reach for the skies above. Here the power, politics and population jam its streets to capacity. It’s a testament to communal modernity.
Yet, nestled among the high-rises tradition still holds true in the many local restaurants, tea-houses and a unique folk culture of the people, adding flavour and the spice of life to this mass conglomeration of buildings.
A journey into Asia means the experiences of Forbidden Cities frozen in time. Floating markets alive with loud bargaining between vendors and customers. Sharply contrasted with the softly falling cherry blossom, serene and gentle. The Taj Mahal a testament to love, Shinto shrines holy in their tranquillity and a thousand golden statues of Buddha each praying for enlightenment. It means steamed dumplings overfilled with prawn, pork or lotus flower, Peking duck with sticky lickable sauces, delicious spicy dahl and freshly made sushi delicate as a flower. It means high mountain peaks soaring to the heavens, dense jungle opening onto endless grassy plains and terraced rice paddy’s providing sustenance and life to many.
Asia means an assault on the senses at every turn. The aromas. The sights and sounds. Each unique to its own country, separate yet together making the whole that is Asia.
Just to whet your appetite, here’s my favorite dumpling recipe that was given to me by a local when I was last in Hong Kong.
Specialty Steamed Dumplings
Makes approx. 24 dumplings
200g pork or chicken mince, or a combination of both
50g prawn meat, minced
small piece ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic
½ small onion, finely chopped
1 T Soy Sauce
1 T Chinese rice wine or sherry
1 T finely chopped chives or green shallots
1 T finely chopped parsley
½ cup shredded chinese cabbage (optional)
Wonton or gow gee wrappers
a little cold water to seal
Soy sauce, sweet chilli or plum sauce for serving.
- Combine meat, ginger, garlic, onion, soy sauce, rice wine, herbs and cabbage – if using, into a small bowl.
- Spoon heaped teaspoonful’s into half of each wrapper. Brush edge with water and fold wrapper over to enclose filling. If desired, pleat the edges.
- Place each dumpling on a small tray or saucer that has been lined with baking paper.
- Line the base of a large steamer basket with baking paper and place it over a pan of simmering water. Make sure dumplings do not touch each other and there is enough room around the tray or saucer for the steam to work its magic.
- Cook dumplings in batches for 6-8 minutes, or until cooked through.
- Transfer to a warmed plate and cover.
- Serve with soy sauce, sweet chilli or plum sauce.
HINT: Add some mixed veges or water chestnuts. This same mixture also makes brilliant spring rolls.
HINT: Steamer baskets in varying sizes are readily available at any Chinese Supermarket.
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