The Year of the Ox starts Friday. In celebration, chef and author Anita Lo—winner of Eater’s Cookbook of the Year award, Michelin-star winner, Iron Chef winner, and Top Chef master—is streaming a tutorial on how to make some of the world’s best dumplings. On the virtual menu are shrimp-and-pork pockets of goodness with vegetarian options easily swapped. The class requires registration. Yes there’s a fee, but it unlocks top techniques and live time with Lo, who describes her ethos in Cooking Without Borders as a view of food as a form of memory: “In every mouthful of food lie hints of history—personal and global.”
Dumplings are also constitutionally expansive, with all shapes, sizes, fillings, wrappers, pleats, prices, histories, and methods, from xiaolongbao to pierogies to gnocchi. Are ravioli dumplings? Yes. If it’s a small mass of dough rolled to encase a filling (or none) and gone in a bite (or two), you’ve got one, a glimpse of regional tradition. Lo ran Annisa in the West Village for 17 years after growing up near Detroit with a mother from Malaysia and father from Shanghai.
“When [my mother] arrived in the United States, her first stop was Tennessee, where she received her pre-med degree. My parents met in San Francisco—she was interning at the same hospital where my father was a doctor,” she says.
A steady stream of day care workers from several countries introduced her to new histories of food. “True hospitality extends to others and to yourself,” she writes in Solo: A Modern Cookbook for a Party of One. “Too often we forget about the latter.”
P.S. Are knishes dumplings? Many sources say yes. I say no. Senator, I served with knishes. I knew knishes. Knishes were a friend of mine. Senator, knishes are no dumplings. Unless they’re dumplings? Wait, are knishes dumplings? I guess so. Share your recipes, definitions of dumpling, memories of food and family, and photos of your homemade best at firstname.lastname@example.org. (Here’s a long list of dumplings.)