Steamed Shrimp Dumplings part one
My hometown of Changshu is a famous water town near Suzhou, crisscrossed by branching streams and little bridges; everyone lives by the water. As a young lad, after school I would go with my pals to river banks, ponds, streams and brooks, where we would jump in the water and catch fish.
Shrimps are crustaceans with tender sweet flesh beneath their carapace. Nutrition analysis shows that flesh shrimps contain 20.6 grams of protein and only 0.7 grams of fat per 100 grams. It is a top delicacy among foods popular with young people. Freshwater shrimps living in rivers and lakes are big and white, whilst those in brooks and ponds are small and grey. Shrimps from brooks and streams have a thick shell and a rank smell, but the thinshell ones living in ponds have plump and tender meat. Many shrimp dishes from ancient times have been passed down to the present generation. As everyone knows, "shrimp custard" was a favorite of the Empress Dowager Cixi in her late years. The Qing Dynasty book on on cookery Record of Flavoring the Pot observes, "Fried shrimp sections are made by rolling a piece of bean curd around mashed shrimp and ham and then frying the rolls. They are gourmet food." "Quick-stirred gill fungus with shrimps" entails first steaming the shrimp balls inside the mushrooms until cooked through and finishing off by a quick-stir with bamboo shoots. Thus the three delicacies -- shrimps, mushrooms and bamboo shoots -- are cooked together. These dishes are no longer rare; but in their day they
were the talk of the capital.
I have long heard of the foods in Guangzhou and every time I went there I would make a point of going to a noodle restaurant to have "soup noodles with flesh shrimp dumplings," a cheap and delicious dish. It is not only good but cheap too. Shrimp dumplings and noodles are local snacks characteristic of the south and the north respectively; in Guangdong Province however the two are combined. A stock is made