New Year Money Bags

For New Years Eve, Will and I went to my parents and cooked dinner. His contribution was a traditional New Years dumpling called money bags. Here’s what he has to say about it:

I just got this cookbook for Christmas, and decided to adapt this recipe (which usually is made with pork) for dinner, in honor of the New Year. I omitted the shrimp, replaced the pork with wheat gluten, and added some extra oil and seasoning to replace the salt and fat that would otherwise be in the filling. The recipe called for 3 cups of sweet-potato starch, which I think must be a typo.

New Year Money Bags (Jin Yuan Bao)?

Adapted from Cooking From China’s Fujian Province by Jacqueline M. Newman.


8 dried Chinese style shittake mushrooms, soaked stems down, stems removed.
8 oz wheat gluten or other meat substitute (I used ‘mian chang’ — wheat gluten intestine, and mine was made with some soy as well).
4 scallions, green and white parts
4 cloves garlic, or 2 cloves of garlic and 2 stalks fresh garlic if available
4 slices fresh ginger, peeled
1/2 C fresh cilantro, with some stems, washed and dried
salted mustard stem or other salted Chinese vegetable
4 tsp regular soy sauce
4 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp vegetable oil
4 tsp Fujian / Fukien rice wine (probably can substitute Shaoxing if not available)
pinch or two of salt
1/8 tsp white pepper
pinch vegetarian bouillon or seasoning (optional)
3 Tbsp sweet-potato flour (note: this is not the same as potato flour / potato starch, though you could probably sub potato starch or cornstarch)
1 package square wonton wrappers (eggless if you’re trying to make vegan)
1 egg, beaten, ener-g egg replacer or corn / potato starch mixed with water vegetable oil, for frying.

money bagsmoney bags


Wring out the wheat gluten and shittakes so that they’ll soak up as much of the liquids as possible.

Finely mince the mushrooms, wheat gluten, scallions, garlic / fresh garlic stalks, ginger, and cilantro. Chop the salted vegetable a little more coarsely. Mix together.

money bags

Mix the wet ingredients along with the salt, white pepper, and vegetarian boullion or seasoning.

Add the sweet-potato flour and wet ingredients to the mushroom / wheat gluten mixture, and combine. Let set for a little for the liquid ingredients to get absorbed.

money bags

The recipe’s directions for folding the pouches are pretty unhelpful. I mostly just followed my father-in-law, but this is one of those times where a picture is worth 1000 words. Basically like a normal wonton, but you try not to leave much space in the middle, and you push the points down and square off the ends to try and form roughly an “ingot” shape. Use the egg or water / starch slurry to seal.

money bags

Deep-fry in vegetable oil until golden and crispy, and let drain on a rack. Serve with any kind of dipping sauce (we had a simple sauce with lemon, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and sugar, but I bet a thick sweet / sour type sauce or Chinese mustard would be good too).

money bags

2009 Rose Parade

Rose Parade 2009On January 1st 2009, I got up at 5:30 in the morning for the first time in many years to drive to Union Station to catch the Gold Line to Pasadena. The occasion: the BF scored tickets for the Rose Parade! These tickets gave us reserved seats at the start of the parade, right in the front row. We actually didn’t need to get up that early considering we did have reserved seats, but the BF was excited and thought that they’d close the street to foot traffic if we got there any later.

The Rose Parade is such a bore to watch on TV, but seeing it go past merely 20 feet in front of you is actually quite exciting. We saw a float that blew steam, a celebrity or two, and even a wardrobe malfunction!

The most exciting thing during the parade for me was watching the B-2 stealth bomber fly over our heads. It was so hi-tech looking and definitely stealthy. We didn’t hear it at all.

More pictures on my flickr set