Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Although everyone thinks of egg rolls and crab rangoon as traditional Chinese food, it is not something we have been able to get in any of the area's we've lived in China. Not having a lot of time to spare, I did a short search on the net to see where they originated. From what I've discovered in that short amount of time is that it is largely unknown where it originated but many did seem to agree that they thought it originated in America. I think every Chinese restaurant there, big or small, offer them. While it doesn't really matter to me where it originated, I do know one thing. Our family loves them both and we get hungry for them from time to time!! Since we can't get them here, we make our own. We'd make them more often, but it is a bit time consuming. For the first few times, we made our own wraps as you just can't buy them in the markets here. That made things much more time consuming so we went to buying the wonton or dumpling (jiaozi) wraps. Since they don't come that big, you have to piece them. When we lived in Dalian, China, I used to order them made to the size I wanted. Even then it was often difficult and the Chinese just can't imagine what I wanted with such a big wrapper!! Those crazy foreigners! After moving here to the village, I tried to order them the same way, but was told a couple different times that it just can't be done. Now, I'm confused and thinking "Why not?!" I thought perhaps their machines just weren't big enough here in the village so I never questioned it much. That is until the other day. I wanted to make egg rolls and needed some wraps. The lady who sells them on the street (currently the only place I knew to buy them here), only sells in the morning and now it was afternoon. Determined to have egg rolls for dinner, I took Elise, my oldest daughter, to seek out the lady whom I've been told sells them in her home if I want them at another time of day. Since I didn't know exactly where she lived, only had a general area, we began to go house to house asking. We figured everyone would know where she lived being such a small village. Well......they assumed that this foreigner just wanted to eat dumplings so they directed us to where we could buy them. After all, jiaozi is a Chinese dish and how could a foreigner possibly know how to make such a thing?!! They don't know us very well as we make many, many things from scratch and cook more Chinese food than Western! Anyway, when we finally got out of him that we didn't want to eat them, but make them ourselves, he directed us to a small house. When the lady came out with flour from head to toe, I knew we'd found our place!! When I inquired about getting the wraps, I spotted some square ones!! This is the first time I've ever seen the square ones. We've always had to use round before and piece 4 of them together. Well, you can imagine how much fun that was, which is why we didn't make them very often!! She was talking to a man directly behind the wall or opening so I peaked my head around and BEHOLD I saw the big sheets of dough I'd often seen when we lived in Dalian! No more piecing them together ever again!! Now, it took some talking to get them to give us what we wanted, but we came out of there with what we needed--big sheets of egg roll wraps. Again they thought we must be crazy and wanted to know what we were going to do with such big pieces of dough! People in the states often make fun of me, because I seem to get excited about seemingly little things. But Hey! These are big things for us!! Like the time we spotted Doritos for the first time! I called 2 or 3 people on the phone and told them asking also if they wanted me to pick some up for them too! See the thing is here, you may see it one day and then never see it again so I didn't want to take any chances. Recently the Doritos came to the village here and we were very happy:0 As was all the foreigners. I guess they just didn't sell as many as they'd hoped so we haven't seen them in awhile now. Now we aren't into name brand stuff much, but you can't buy any other type of tortilla or corn chip anywhere except in foreign specialty stores in Beijing. Plenty of corn available here so that's not the problem. The Chinese enjoy plenty of other chip type snacks. In fact they have a large variety. It just doesn't include those types. When we want to have some chips and salsa (which you also have to make home made), you just really need a corn or tortilla type chip. We've also gotten hungry enough in the past to make the tortilla chips ourselves, but frankly, they are a real pain!! So we don't make them anymore either. Guess I'm rambling a bit now, sorry! Anyway, we had a blast making the egg rolls and crab rangoon. Anything you can do that is hands on for the girls, they love. These are usually weekend projects as we just don't have as much time during the week to do such things.