My grandfather is a mystery to me. He's 95 years old, half-deaf, and somewhat of a recluse in the family. On top of that, he and I have lived across the world from each other -- him in China and me in America -- for pretty much my entire life.
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And yet, for a short while in fifth grade, he and my grandmother came to live with us in the U.S. It's from that period that I remember him whipping out these steamed scallion rolls every week.
So maybe this recipe I'm sharing isn't an heirloom recipe, per se. It hasn't been passed down from generation to generation to generation.
However, it does represent a memory of a recipe, one that I've dredged up from the distant past and tinted with nostalgia for the only time in my life when my grandpa didn't seem a complete stranger.
And that, to me, makes it valuable enough that I want to pass it down.