Chinese dumplings, oh how we love them. For quick meals and impromptu celebrations with friends, we keep the freezer stocked with homemade dumplings, as well as our favorite packaged brand from Boston’s Chinatown (Chinese Spaghetti Factory). When we need something easy but crave deep satisfaction as well, we reach for the dumplings, steam jasmine rice and flash-fry some greens. It’s a meal we can't get enough of.
But afterward there is always a smidge (and sometimes more) of left-over dipping sauce. To be at its piquant best with dumplings, the dipping sauce has to be freshly made. I use two parts soy sauce to one part rice vinegar with a healthy lashing of sesame oil, a double pinch of sugar, a pinch of kosher salt, and a sprinkling of scallion rings and minced garlic. It’s simple stuff, sloshed together as the dumplings hit the platter and head for the table.
The fragrant little-bit of leftover sauce means yet another fast meal is on hand: Egg-drop soup.
Whether the chicken broth is homemade (from the freezer) or poured out of a handy box, it is quickly transformed into our most comforting fast soup.
To the broth, I add a quarter-cup of Shao Shing cooking wine, some chopped scallion, and a couple of coins of ginger lightly smashed. When the broth reaches a nice simmer, I throw in whatever scraps of dried pasta we have hanging around. Then in goes the dipping sauce. A tablespoon of cornstarch dissolved in a quarter-cup of cold water brings out a sumptuous silkiness when it is added to the simmering brew. When the heat goes off, I stir the beaten eggs in ever so slowly; the streams of egg bloom into yellow ribbons.
And so the slurping and sighing begins.