Sunday, August 15, 2010

Dumplings

(2/11/2015 Update: I decide to give this post a make-over.  With better pictures, updated routine, etc...  This post is still a work in progress at the moment... I will update when I have suitable pictures and/or video to add...)

Dumplings has got to be my all time favorite food... because I am so picky about them, I prefer to make everything from scratch (except when I am too busy...)

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here's an updated picture of what I made recently
you will notice this is a different wrapping style than the ones below
this is better if you are hungry and just want to boil them

Keep in mind this is only one of the many ways to make dumplings... Just like kimchi, every person has their own way of making it.  Learn the basic techniques, then explore and make your own unique dumplings (e.g. infuse spinach juice into the wrapping, or use curry potatoes as your fillings, etc.)  I have used all kinds of veggies in mine: from your basic cabbage and chives to the exotic cilantro and leeks.

Ingredients (makes 60 dumplings):

Wrapping:

2-3 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup water

If you don't want to go through the trouble of making your own dough, buy wrappings from any Asian groceries store.  1 kilo usually yields about 60 wrappings.

Filling:

2 cups of minced pork
3-4 cups of finely chopped cabbage (blanch and squeeze out the water)

You could literally use anything you want as fillings.  So long as it wraps!

Directions:

1. Sift the flour, add water, slowly into the dough


2. Use a dough mixer (or chopsticks, fork, or your hand - if you watched "Kung Fu soccer", you will know what i mean), mix the flour. (You want the dough to get to what it feels like when you touch your earlobe.)


3. Pour #2 on a well-floured chopping board, knead the dough, and form a ball.  Wrap in plastic wrap and let it rest for at least 3 to 4 hours.  (I put mine in the fridge overnight)


4. Separate and blanch about 1/3 of a cabbage.  Rinse them in cold water gently and squeeze out any excess water.  Finely chop them and squeeze again.  Add ~1/2 tsp salt and ~1/2 tbsp sesame oil.  Mix well.

The vegetable used in the picture below is actually Chinese leeks / garlic chives (韮菜).  This one is easy.  Just dice them and toss it in salt and sesame oil.  I like to use 韮黃 too.

5. Add sugar (1/2 tsp), salt (1/3 tsp), soy sauce (1 tbsp), Chinese cooking wine (1/2 cap full), Chicken powder or MSG (a pinch), ground black pepper (5-6 dash), sesame oil (1 tsp), and an egg to the minced pork and mix until it forms a paste (起膠).

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6. Combine #4 and #5. I prefer my filling to be 70% veggies and 30% meat.  Keep mixing until it is all blended.

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7. Now, it's time to roll your dough.  Roll it out and cut into small chunks.


8. Using the palm of your hands, press the individual chunks down and start flattening the dough into a circular wrapping.  (Try to make the middle slightly thicker than the sides so when it folds, the dumplings has the same thickness.)


9. Place 3/4 tsp of #6 into a wrapping, like so.  (I started putting less fillings lately... a lame attempt on portion control if you ask me... LOL...)

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11. There are a lot of ways to fold a dumpling, but if you are the only one who will be enjoying it, who cares how pretty they look... you and I know where they are going... so just close it up... it's faster anyways... (I am usually very hungry at this point so it's the speed that matters...)


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This shape is better if you want to make pan-fried dumplings

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I make large batches as you can see how much work it involves (even if you bought the wrappings). The best part, you can freeze the dumplings and eat a few at a time (I eat about 10 dumplings at a time but I am a dumpling monster...)  Or what I started doing recently is boiled them all and let it rest in large plates with plenty of space in between.  Once they are completely cool, I store them in containers and put them in the fridge.


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I put a plastic wrap on a big dinner plate and sprinkle some flour, line the dumplings up, sprinkle some more flour, then put another plastic wrap on top... Then I stick them in a plastic bag - those flimsy ones you get at grocery stores or my favorite: plastic bags from the bakery!


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12. For those you are ready to consume right away, boil a pot of water in a large pot.

13. Add dumplings when water is boiling, stir and let it boil, add cold water (1 cup) and stir... repeat three times (this is to make sure your dumplings are thoroughly cooked).

14.  On the fourth time, strain them and put in a large dinner plate.  Bon appetit!

15.  You can dip your dumplings in soy sauce, dumpling vinegar, chili paste, etc.

My favorite is vinegar (鎮江香醋 / 山西陳醋 / 大紅浙醋) etc.  (Pretty much as long as it is sour... at desperate times, I used distilled vinegar too.)  Other people enjoy a mix of soy sauce and vinegar, sometimes they add chili paste also.  Or, you can try soy sauce and sesame oil plus a bit of the dumpling water.  The possibility is pretty much endless.

Variations:

Steamed - Line base of a large steamer basket with baking paper. Place dumplings, in a single layer, in basket. Pour water into a wok until one-quarter full. Bring to the boil over high heat. Place steamer over wok, ensuring base doesn't touch water. Steam dumplings for 15 to 20 minutes or until tender and cooked through.

Pan-fried - Arrange dumplings on a large skillet (non-stick) and brown the bottoms of the dumplings and then add just enough water to cover half the dumplings and cover them until the water evaporates, then cook until the desired crispiness.

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