On October 13, Anabel’s Grocery welcomed Irene Li to the store for a dumpling making tutorial event aimed at teaching students how to reduce food waste in their own kitchens. Irene Li, who graduated from Cornell in 2015 and now owns a dumpling restaurant in Boston, guided students through every step of the dumpling-making process while sharing her journey to becoming a successful chef.
Irene partnered with her siblings to open their restaurant Mei Mei in 2012 as a food truck in Boston. Since the restaurant was founded by two younger sisters and an older brother, the Li siblings felt it was only fitting to name their restaurant after the Chinese word for little sister. In 2020, Irene transformed the food truck into a restaurant, dumpling factory, and a teaching space. The business hosts cooking classes like the very one we were lucky to experience at Anabel’s.
While preparing the dumpling filling, which consisted of edible ingredients that are commonly disposed of such as carrot tops and broccoli stems, Irene answered questions about the best ways to avoid food waste while cooking, how her experiences at Cornell led her to opening a restaurant, and how to gain confidence in the kitchen. Irene then demonstrated her favorite methods for folding dumplings and offered students the chance to try them out. After the dumplings were all folded, Irene fried them on a pan and served them with a dipping sauce. Students enjoyed the dumplings they helped prepare while chatting with Irene and their friends.
Anabel’s Grocery is so grateful that Irene was willing to share her wisdom with the Cornell community. We enjoyed the opportunity to make dumplings and share a meal alongside her and the students who attended the event. We hope that students left feeling empowered to make their own dumplings at home and cook with less food waste.
The recipe used at the event is listed below. Even though these are the ingredients Irene used, she recommends using any leftover vegetables you have. To learn more about Irene and her work, check out her restaurant’s website and read her new book, Perfectly Good Food: A Totally Achievable Zero Waste Approach to Home Cooking.
3 tablespoons oil, 1 tablespoon ginger (minced), 1 large onion (chopped), 2 cups shiitake mushrooms (chopped), 1 1/2 cups cabbage (finely shredded), 1 1/2 cups carrot (finely shredded), 1 cup garlic chives. 1/2 teaspoon white pepper, 2 teaspoons sesame oil, 2 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 teaspoon sugar, salt (to taste)
Sesame oil, sugar, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and garlic chives
Prepare the filling by mixing all of the ingredients together. Stuff them in the dumpling wrappers, fold them, and place them in an oiled pan over medium heat. Pan-fry the dumplings until golden brown on the bottom, pour water into the pan, and cover to steam the dumplings until they are fully cooked. Serve with the dipping sauce and enjoy!