Outside the Big Top

Recreate this Cirque du Soleil artist’s favourite post-show meal

My name is Wentao Xian. I’m a Cirque entertainer that gets to travel around the world. I was first part of VOLTA and I now perform in JOYÀ in Riviera Maya, Mexico! During my traveling for work, the favourite thing I love to do is cooking, especially cooking my own hometown‘s food.

I’m always far away from my country, but my hometown’s flavors are ingrained so deep inside my soul. Therefore, I must cook something for myself all the time to satisfy my cravings!

I love to cook all kinds of Chinese food. But the cuisine I cook is most often Sichuan food. Also known as Chuan Cai in Chinese, is known internationally for being spicy and flavorful. Yet, the recipes are always very nutritious. The mix of flavors like hot, sweet, sour, salty, and tongue-numbing as well as various cooking methods are the pride and joy of many home cooks across the province.

My friends and I always enjoy the simplest form of Sichuan food – the hot pot! It’s so easy to prepare and it always turns out so delicious. A heat source keeps the pot of soup stock simmering during the meal. A variety of Chinese produces and ingredients are served beside the pot for everyone to put into the peppery hot broth. And then, that’s it!

We also enjoy munching on some dumplings whenever we can. Of course, we like to make them from scratch. Cooking together is a great way of catching up and get to know one another while doing something we love. Dumplings are very easy to throw together, and after a few times making some, you too will be a pro. Simply follow my recipe and don’t hesitate to experiment with your own favorite ingredients!

Pro tip: These pretty traditional and amazing Chinese meals are best enjoyed with friends.

Wentao Xian’s Chinese Dumplings Recipe

How to make the filling:

  • Gather some baby bok choys or a napa cabbage and ground pork.
  • Wash the veggies thoroughly.
  • Wring out the veggies to get as much the water out of them as possible.
  • Chop the vegetables as finely as you can.
  • Mix in a large bowl with your ground meat.
  • Add some Chinese seasonings, like Shaoxing wine, sesame oil, soy sauce, or white pepper. Let your imagination run wild!
  • Now mix well with a wooden spoon or your hands.

How to prepare the wrappers:

  • You can buy premade dumpling wrappers at any Asian grocery store. You should look out for the round white ones.
  • First, you’ll need to add some of your filling to the wrapper. Pick up only a little bit at a time. You’ll want to keep your hands as clean as possible to handle the wrappers, so if you’re skilled with chopsticks, it’s the right tool for this job.
  • There are several ways to do the wrapping step, but the easiest way for first timers is to pinch the wrapper in half at a point in the middle. Then fold the skins over twice on each side, working your way to the outer corners. Still doubtful on how to do it? That’s something a quick YouTube tutorial can help you figure out.

How to cook the dumplings:

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil and throw in the dumplings. If they were not previously frozen, add cold water a few times during the cooking process. They’re usually done when they float to the top and start to look transparent.
  • You can also pan fry the dumplings for a crispy skin!


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