Florence Lin showed me the depth of Chinese cuisine beginning with starches. In her Complete Book of Chinese Noodles, Dumplings and Breads, she explains the importance of water temperature for achieving the right spring and bite in Chinese doughs. You need very hot water to hydrate the flour most efficiently for shui jiao (水餃) wrappers and other boiled dumplings. I had learned with Italian pasta to use egg yolk to give flour elasticity, but Florence revealed how to achieve it with just the right temperature water in the right proportion. Florence wasn’t a purist. She was okay with substituting sauerkraut and Tabasco when needed, but she believed in technique. Through it, she showed that Chinese cuisine wasn’t a monolith but a world of diverse cuisines. I never got to meet her, but I carried her Chinese Regional Cookbook around with me everywhere for a long time.
Plan Ahead: You’ll need time to make Basic Chile Oil and Lanzhou Chile Oil. You can make the wrappers ahead of time and freeze.
Special Equipment: Stand mixer, pasta roller, meat grinder, 3 ½-inch round cutter
Reprinted with permission from Mister Jiu's in Chinatown: Recipes and Stories from the Birthplace of Chinese American Food by Brandon Jew and Tienlon Ho, copyright © 2021. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.