Our Family Dinner Book Club selection for the month of December is Dumpling Soup by Jama Kim Rattigan.
Here you’ll find a menu that can be prepared with the help of your children, and will hopefully be a fun and interactive activity for the whole family. Head over to Growing Book by Book for some talking points to get the conversation starters, and then visit Moms are Frugal for a few fun crafts to accompany the book. We invite you to share a picture from your dinner with us anytime during the month on our Family Dinner Book Club Facebook page.
This is a great book to read during this time of year because it is all about a family coming together in celebration and honoring their traditions. If there are any holiday or year-end traditions that your family has, now is a great time to teach those to your children, and talk about the importance of these activities. Kids begin absorbing everything around them as soon as they are born, so even if a child is “too young” to understand something, they will at least carry the memories and feelings with them for a very long time. So what are some of your own traditions? Does your family have a favorite recipe that you make during this time of year?
In the book the women of the family work together to make tons and tons of dumplings which will go into dumpling soup and be consumed first thing in the new year to bring good fortune. The narrater of the story is a young girl who is helping to make the dumplings for the first time and she is so excited about such an honor. Pay close attention to the reaction of her grandmother and family when they are eating her misshapen dumplings. Remember to praise kids in the kitchen for a job well done. The more they feel accomplished, the more they will want to come back and cook.
Kids in the Kitchen!
Here are some tips for getting the kids involved in cooking this meal with you.
Dumpling Soup (recipe below):
Mix the dumpling filling ahead of time, then set out the filling, spoons, water for dipping, and the wrappers. Kids can help spoon the filling onto the center of the dumpling wrapper, swipe some water around the edges, and seal. Have kids try each step of this process and then try one completely on their own. Kids are pretty good at knowing what they are comfortable with, so after trying each step they will probably choose one step of the process to be in charge of.
Vegetable Chop Suey:
Older kids can help carefully chop the vegetables, and younger kids can help measure and mix the sauce ingredients.
Set up the breading station and give each person their own job. Someone to be in charge of the egg mixture, someone to be in charge of the panko, and someone to place the breaded chicken on a plate or rack until it is time to cook.
Kids can help you measure the rice and water for cooking, place it on the stove top, and then watch how an adult carefully turns on and manages the fire. They can also set a time and be in charge of knowing when it is finished cooking.
Mochi (I like dessert mochi, but if you can find savory mochi it is a fun new food to try):
Dessert mochi can be found at many grocery stores in the freezer section. Take the kids to the store with you and have them choose the flavor they would like to try for dessert. If you end up with a few flavors, you can cut each mochi in half or thirds and give everyone a few flavors to taste.
- 16 ounces green or napa cabbage
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 16 ounces ground pork
- 3-5 scallions, minced
- 2 ounces (about 3/4 cup) finely chopped shiitake mushrooms
- 1 teaspoon minced or grated ginger
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon rice wine
- 2 packages round dumpling/potsticker wrappers
- 64 ounces (8 cups) low sodium chicken broth
- 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced into coins or sticks
- 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 20 dumplings
- 3 scallions, white and green parts chopped
- chili sauce, if desired
- Use a food processor, box grater, or a chef's knife to finely chop the cabbage. Place it in a bowl, sprinkle with the salt, and toss to combine. Allow this to sit for at least 10 minutes. Then place the cabbage into cheesecloth or a thin tea towel and squeeze out as much liquid as you can.
- While the cabbage is soaking, make the dumpling filling. In a large bowl, combine the pork, scallions, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice wine. Add the cabbage when it is ready, and stir to combine thoroughly. Use a mixing spoon to break up the pork and get everything evenly combined. You can use this filling right away, but it is a good idea to cover and refrigerate it for at least 4 hours to allow all the flavors to marry and develop.
- To make the dumplings:
- Keep the dumpling wrappers and the folded dumplings under plastic wrap or a slightly damp cloth.
- Place one dumpling wrapper on a flat surface in front of you. Add about 1 tablespoon of the filling into the center. Dip your finger in water and wipe it around the edges of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper in half and press the edges together to form a half moon shape. If desired, your can crimp the edges for added flair.
- Dumplings can be stored in the fridge for 24 hours, or frozen for up to 4 months.
- Make sure to give the dumplings some space so they do not stick together. Separate layers with plastic wrap or parchment paper.
- In a large pot, combine the chicken broth, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, and kosher salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. This allows the flavors in the broth to develop.
- Return the pot to a boil, add the dumplings, and cook for 3 minutes. Add the chopped scallions, remove from the heat, and serve immediately.
- Serve chili sauce, sriracha, or hot sauce on the side if desired.