Entertaining Mistakes

It's your worst nightmare: intimate dinner or big splashy event, and something goes horribly wrong. The causes can be legion. The only known antidote: humor & quick thinking.

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Ming Tsai smashes a thousand dumplings
Illustration: Barry Blitt

Ming Tsai smashes a thousand dumplings

Who: Ming Tsai, chef/owner of Blue Ginger in Wellesley, Massachusetts, and Emmy Award-winning host of Public Television’s Simply Ming. His Latest cookbook is Simply Ming One-Pot Meals.

Result: Gobs of unservable dumplings.

At the Aspen Food & Wine festival in 2009, I was the chef picked to do an hors d’oeuvres party for about 150 at a gigantic mansion up in the hills. One of my seven recipes was a shrimp shumai, which is a foolproof dish of steamed dumplings stuffed with shrimp mousse and served with a citrus truffle oil. I had cooked in Aspen many times, but I had never steamed something at that altitude before. Well, I saw that the water wasn’t boiling hot enough. It came to a simmer, but not a rolling boil—a disaster for shumai. (continued on next slide)

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