Ah yes, another wonderful day at the San Diego Film Festival. Today we went early and saw Alice Wu's fantastic film; Saving Face. Alice Wu's Directorial debut is a wonderfully funny, yet an a amazingly perceptive and complex tale, one that is both light, and yet reveals very deep social and cultural issues that are put at the forefront.
At the heart of the movie is the question; at what length and what price is one willing to pay to "save face". Saving Face is of the best most polished Asian American Films I've ever seen. After the film, Director Alice Wu, and the three lovely Leading Ladies, Joan Chen, Michelle Krusiec, and Lynn Chen were very generous with their time during a Q&A session. What I was really amazed to find out was that the film was completed in 27 days, all single takes! If I'm being a bit vague with the plot details, it is with good reason. The film takes some really fun twists and turns, and keeps you guessing til the end. If you're interested in a movie that's like a cross between The Wedding Banquet and My Big Fat Greek Wedding, this is for you. By the way, I never knew Joan Chen could be so funny!
On Thursday Night we saw 20:30:40, a funny, yet very interesting and revealing Taiwanese/Chinese film Directed by, and starring Sylvia Chang. 20:30:40 portrays the life of 3 Women. Xiao Jie (Lee Sin-Jie), is a 20 year old, who has come to Taipei to become a pop star. Suddenly free, and learning about life with no responsibility, she starts learning and experimenting in her journey to find out about life and who she is. Xiang (Rene Liu), is a thirty-something Flight Attendant, attempting to find love by juggling two men, a married Dentist, and a possessive somewhat unstable Music Producer. Forty-something Lily (Sylvia Chang) is the owner of a Flower Shop. Her world is turned upside down when she finds out that her Husband has a second family.
Though the women never actually meet, they pass each other, and their lives are intertwined through associations with other characters in the film. Featuring some very funny moments, this is a showcase for the actresses and in the end a very honest and entertaining effort.
What about the food? Among the many food scenes in these two films were two that got our attention; in 20:30:40, Lily (Sylvia Chang) is having dinner with would be "Romeo", Jeff (Tony Leung Ka-Fai), as he teaches her to eat her dumplings by first eating an entire clove of garlic, he tells her; "what do you care, we're both sleeping alone tonight...", one of the funniest lines in the film. In Saving Face, Joan Chen is making dumplings for a "mah-jong party".
So this evening, the Missus decided to end her self imposed Dumpling retirement, by saying, "hey, let's make some shrimp and chive dumplings..." So even though it was after 6pm, I jumped into action and ran up to 99 Ranch Market to pick-up some shrimp and chive, while the Missus made the dough for the wrappers:
Sorry that there is no set recipe for this. I will go through the ingredients, though. Dumplings have been a way of life for the Missus. She was raised in Qingdao in the Shandong province in China. Dumplings, handmade noodles, and various breads are a way of life. This dough was made with flour and room temperature water. While kneading she knows at what point the dough is "ready". My job is easy; shell and devein 1 1/2 lbs of shrimp, which is then chopped to desired texture.
1 1/2 lbs shrimp chopped
1 bunch chives chopped
2-4 Tbs Sesame Oil
2 tsp salt
2 tsp Shao-Tsing Wine
Ginger Juice(everybody wonders what the garlic press is for)
Mix together and start filling them dumplings:
Here's a hint; before mixing the dumpling filling, start boiling a small pot of water. When the mix is ready make a "test dumpling" and cook - it'll be pretty quick since the dough is fresh. You can taste the filling and make adjustments. For me, the only way to eat these freshly made dumplings is to boil them. You get the full range of flavor and most of all the wonderful slightly doughy wrapper, that should have a bit of pull. Of course you can pan fry if you must:
Optional - Chili Paste, Sugar, etc....
The belief is that boiled dumplings are the true test, fried dumplings are for later. Even though she declared a "second retirement" after making these, I still love and appreciate the fact that she knew after watching all these "dumplings on film", that I'd be wanting some. Also, I know we've now got a few dozen in the freezer! he-he-he..... Need to find more dumpling movies!