Friday, May 16, 2014

Cooking with Echo

This weekend, I had the privilege of cooking with my dear friend and neighbor, Echo. Echo is from Liaoyang, China, and was one of my first international students to guide as an International Pal. Since those beginning days at Hanover for her, we have become good friends, so it only made sense for us to cook together for this adventure we're calling a blog. I asked Echo to teach me how to cook some authentic Chinese cuisine, and she didn't disappoint. (Mind you, yours truly is not much of a chef!) We decided to make a dish Echo calls Chinese pizza, so there will be a lovely recipe (or two!) for you at the end of this post-yay!

One of the things I find most enjoyable about cooking is the relational aspect of cooking. In today's "got to have it now," instant gratification culture, many times we miss out on the emotional work of cooking and food. One of the things my mom says makes her food taste better than other food is that "it's made with love." While that is incredibly cheesy, there is also some truth to that: so much emotion and thought and hard work goes into making a simple meal, and by joining together to make that meal, we are forging a bond that is being fed (pun intended) in the kitchen. Back home in China, Echo would make Chinese pizza with her family during special holidays, thus strengthening that familial bond.

For Echo and I, cooking together enables us to have time to grow our friendship, as well as learn more about each other's cultures. When Echo first arrived in the United States, I spontaneously decided that we would make chocolate fudge together, as a way to bond, plus to have something fun to do! In this way, I was able to share part of my culture with her (as fudge is not really a thing in China, so she had no idea what it was.)

Aubrey's Fudge Recipe (Adapted from Rachael Ray's 5 minute fudge recipe)
    2 bags of chocolate chips
    1 can of sweetened condensed milk

Melt your chocolate chips on the stove top.
Then add in your sweetened condensed milk until your chocolate takes on a fudge-like consistency.
Pour in a pan, and place in your refrigerator until hardened.

Echo and I have not only grown our friendship through cooking, but also had a culture exchange. This is why I have no "secret" recipes: because cooking is a relational experience, and is meant to be shared! That being said, here is Echo's recipe for Chinese pizza!

(*Sidenote: Chinese pizza is really nothing like the pizza we normally think of. According to legend, Marco Polo came across Chinese pizza in his journeys, and when he returned to Italy, tried to recreate it and failed, thus giving us Italian pizza. That may or may not be true, but it's still pretty fun.)

Echo's Chinese Pizza
   1 lb. of ground pork or beef (We used pork.)
   Minced carrots
   Minced cabbage
   Minced green bell peppers
   (or you can substitute other vegetables if you prefer)
   Olive oil
   Soy sauce
   Chinese spice mix
   Vinegar or spicy Chinese sauce (optional, for dipping)

Mix your meat, minced vegetables, olive oil, soy sauce, salt and spices in a bowl to taste.

Mix flour and boiling water until you have a nice doughy consistency. Let it sit for 20ish minutes.

Roll your ball of dough into a log, divide into 2, and pinch a little bit off and form into a flat circle. This will form the "skin" of your pizza.

Spoon a small amount of your filling into your skin, and then curl the edges around the filling until all sides are closed.

You now have a Chinese pizza! Now fry 'em up in olive oil on the stove, and cook until golden brown.

Our plate of Chinese Pizzas, pre-frying



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