Potsticker madness

There is less than 2 months before Krissy is back in Copenhagen, and I am definitely becoming more and more giddy from excitement. During her stay in Asia, she has tasted an impressive palette of street–as well as in door–cuisine. From the get-go, a love that we share has been Asian cuisine. However, having the opportunity to delight herself with such food on a day-to-day basis, it has only strengthened her appreciation for it. As such, dim sum is slowly becoming the center of her universe…literally.

Being the amazing boyfriend that I am, I have taken it upon myself to read more about these various bite-sized, bundles of joy, with the goal of learning how to make them. This way, Krissy will not miss her delicious meals in Hong Kong (as much), and I become a better cook. I have always been into cooking, and I certainly developed culinary skills growing up under the tutelage of my step father, an adept French chef. And so I cannot say that I am diving into this gastronomic escapade blindfolded. I have my kitchen instruments and I have my senses. Time to cook up a symphony. ♫
I embark on my dim sum journey with a dish that I believe almost everyone has heard of: the dumpling. Specifically, pan-fried dumplings, or as they’re normally called, guotie, for which the literal translation is “pot stick,” hence the title. The choice was made based on several things: my eagerness to learn (high), my general laziness (low), my budget (low), much I wanted to impress Krissy (sky high), and how much I drool at the pictures I see (for this one, the droolage level was definitely high). The recipe I follow is from Rasa Malaysia. This blog features some great recipes and mouth-watering food photography. I urge you to have a looksies, if you’re into Asian cuisine. She has a recipe for-it seems-the best dishes Asia has to offer.

Thankfully, I had most of the ingredients at home. All I needed to buy was Napa cabbage and some dumpling wrappers.  Consequently, this would bring me to Chinatown. The trip would normally not be anything out of the ordinary for me. This time, however, my hunger got the best of me, and I swear everything in my path turned into a dumpling. Yikes.

When hunger is at its worst (best?)

With the goods in my inventory, I continued to read through the recipe.

“Right. Seems easy enough,” I thought to myself, having only the slightest bit of conviction in my tone. I mixed the ingredients in a bowl and set it aside. Normally, this would be the step where I take a small test piece from the mix and fry it. This would enable me to determine whether the mix is fine as-is, or if it needs more adjustments.

Normally.

This blob actually smelled so delicious

I put a spoonful of the mix onto the wrapper and stood there staring. The eerie silence was only broken by the surrendering sigh I let out. “How would I be able to create such a thing of beauty?” I thought to myself, “Dumpling? More like…Dump-King”

Heh.

Nevertheless, I figured that since I have always been good with papercraft, this task could not be that much different. All I had to do was try.

:D

Above is my very first dumpling pleat – colour me impressed. Looks good, doesn’t it? After approximately 8 hours, I finally covered the pan with dumplings (yes, there is already oil in the pan.)

Gather around, little children
“Knock, knock.”
“Who’s there?”
“Dumpling.”
“Dumpling, who?”

I fried the little guys until the bottoms are golden and crisp. At this point I was so hungry that I could have shoved the whole pan in my mouth. Without the lid of course.

The crispy bottom creates a beautiful texture together with the soft, almost fluffy upper layer, that only steaming can provide.

The final part of the cooking involves some steaming. Then simply serve with a dipping sauce to your liking. I had mine with soya sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil and some Guilin chili sauce.

NOM NOM NOM.

This is for you, baby ♥

And so there it is. I think it turned out pretty good. I did not follow the recipe perfectly, though. For example, I did not use cilantro leaves, but I did add black fungus. Sadly, I only had a few shrimps left in my freezer – I could really taste that it needed a few more pieces. Just to give it that extra oomph!

The recipe needs:

  • 50 tablespoons of patience
  • 3 dashes of courage
  • 2 set of delicate fingers

Surely, the batch I make for Krissy will be perfect. When she comes back home, I know that she will long for the scrumptious food that she was able to treat herself with while in Hong Kong. My dream is to one day take her on a round-trip in Asia. For now, however, I’ll bring Asia to her — through food.

Thanks for reading. Look forward to more of my adventures in the kitchen.

Gideon

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Art(iculate)

Hello.

To readers who were hoping for another travel post from Krissy, I apologize, but I do hope that I disappoint no further. I’m here to explain what it is I’ll be writing about– most likely, I’ll share a rant in between Krissy’s adventures in the East.

This is TurtleTalk and I’d like to share my interests and my thoughts to the world! Now I don’t consider myself a good writer, like Krissy is. Whether my words are beautifully structured or hilariously incoherent (as some thoughts can be), I nonetheless hope to provide some quality content to any curious reader out there.

What is art?

I’ve always found myself to be more in tune with visual arts, such as drawing, design, painting and photography. I’ve always had a feel for these sort of things. Ever since I was young, I’ve had the knack for creating art through my hands and through my eyes. Now I emphasize the word because really, what is art? When we were young, many of us drew stick men sketches of our family – certainly without any knowledge or concept of what art was. But to our parents, those doodles were hung up on the fridge as real works of art. How about those holiday snapshots we took with our disposable cameras? Back then, I took the shots without any real idea of why I was taking them, beyond the desire to hold on to a memory. If the purpose of the photograph is to capture what already is, is it art? Is it really art when all it does is imitate? Think of actors on a stage, imitating Shakespearean characters; of paint on a canvas, imitating a sunset; of a set of words on a page, imitating life. Are these then considered as works of art?

Is art synonymous with beauty or does it encompass the ugly, the unpleasant? We’re all familiar with the proverb, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” Here, we get into aesthetics and the philosophy of art. What creates an aesthetic experience? Why are we drawn to some things and repelled by others? I suppose all art is beautiful, depending on how we look at it, depending on our understanding of it.

Take a look at this painting called “The Triumph of Death” by Pieter Bruegel.

The Triumph of Death via Wikipedia

The painting depicts a bleak landscape, pervaded with death and destruction.

How about this photograph of a young Libyan, revolting against the rule of long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

A young Libyan shows off the gun he has taken from the Gaddafi family compound, in Tripoli, on 23 September. Via World Press Photo.

Both images revolve around war. To me, war is not beautiful but I can see and appreciate the beauty behind the two pieces. In the photograph, for example, there’s beauty in the way that it was captured. The contrasting themes become apparent as you examine the picture. Oppression vs freedom. A regime that is withering away in flames vs a country that will arise in the new dawn. There is art in the execution.

So then what is art and what is non-art? Well, at the end of the day, I would argue: that which has no artistic intention, no ambition to evoke attentiveness, is non-art. However, I find it’s more meaningful to try and describe what art is, rather than try to define what it is not. That it’s more pertinent to try and describe what art means to us, for a satisfactory definition is yet to be found. Art is so many things to so many people. And that’s just the beauty of it. I also believe that art forms an emotional connection between artist and audience.

I kind of touched upon a lot of topics here. Originally, I just wanted to show some photographs I’ve taken on my iPhone 4. But I also wanted to share some thoughts and questions that have flowed through my mind. Thoughts and questions about art, and what art means to me. But without further ado, I present to you my first art post. There will surely be many more to come, and I’ll get more into the artistic journey I’m about to embark on. More on that later.

For these photos, I used several apps for the post-processing, hence them not looking so natural. I find it interesting to go beyond the natural, to see where I can go with the image. With photography, I like to capture moments. I like simplicity. I like contrast. And damn, I love scenery. Sometimes I like to take a photo of something that, to me, is simply fun.

Instagram – Click on an image for a direct link to its Instagram page, or go to my Instacanvas gallery, where you’ll find more of my pictures.

I want to share this quote, which resonates deeply with me:

You don’t make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.

Ansel Adams

What I love about art, in all of its forms, is all the passion that it brings forth from within the artist. I find it truly inspiring to experience art. To have your emotions be aroused. Whether it is to the flow of movement to music, to brushstrokes against a canvas, or to a web of carefully spun words that form syntax and meaning. It is a wonderful thing to witness the vision of the artist, and to absorb the essence of the piece. Every detail, minute or big, all the inspiration within the melting pot that coalesce and form the final piece of art. To experience that, and be moved by it, is a beautiful thing. If we cast away all conceptual baggage of theories and definitions of what art is, then perhaps we are rewarded with the ability to approach art with fresh “eyes”, and experience it in a more profound and authentic manner.

So are my photos works of art? I don’t know, you tell me. I just know I want to share them to the world, and whenever I create, I always feel inspired. Most importantly, I have fun! :)

Wonton trivia! Number of ?’s in this post: 14. Haha, I think I asked more questions than I answered!

That’s all for now.

Gideon out.

Oh, wait! But what about comparing art forms? Okay, maybe we shouldn’t go there. It would be like asking, “Who would win in a fight, Batman or Superman?” Apples and oranges, I say.