CNN Interview with Chef Ming Tsai

Tips from the mama of Chef Ming Tsai. I gotta try the one about the dumplings.

I found this interview great and relatable — 5 things that Chef Tsai’s mom taught him about cooking (and eating):

Five Things My Mom Taught Me in the Kitchen that I Still Use Today: Ming Tsai

1. Dumpling Skins: keep the edges thinner than the middle
“To this day, my mom is still better at making dumplings than me. As early as two years old, we would gather with my brother, dad and grandparents to make dumplings. It was a social event for my family, and it was time for my brother and I to have fun and make a mess. My mother’s method was to keep the edges of the skin thinner than the middle. This way when you fold and seal them, the thickness is the same all around. Whether I make my own or use store-bought skins, I always make sure to follow her teachings.”

2. It’s O.K. to play with your chopstick wrappers
“My mom loved origami and would occupy us often out at restaurants with her paper creations. She could make anything. The most practical was to make chopstick rests out of our wrappers. It’s a great trick to know – most restaurants don’t provide you with rests and this gives you a way to keep your chopsticks off the tables. My kids love doing this today. It’s a family thing!”

3. You can never have too much rice
“My mom’s rule if you’re making rice is to make double. Day-old rice is best for when you are making a stir-fried rice dish. She would always make extra purposely when cooking rice – this way we could have a stir-fry dish the next day. Mom’s tips on rice: it is best to transfer your extra to a storage container and break it up a little, but not too much, to store in your refrigerator. Use wet hands to break it up because this helps with the rice sticking.”

4. Always plan on 20 percent more
“When we were younger, my family would cater. My mom always had us bring 20 percent more than what the customer had asked for. This didn’t cost us much to do, but we were ready if more people arrived. It’s also part of our Chinese culture that we never leave a table hungry. I still practice this today in my restaurant.”

5. One for all plus extra!
“Whenever we go to a Chinese restaurant, my mom always had us each select our dish for the table. She then would always double it and add a noodle dish. This way everyone at the table gets to try something different. I feel if you don’t leave a Chinese restaurant with a bag then you didn’t order correctly. My mom would then turn the leftovers into other meals, sometimes putting her own spin by adding more to the dish.”

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