Saturday, August 6, 2011

Cooking: Dumplings

Oh dumplings. How I love thee! Enough to make hundreds of you at a time so that I can enjoy you whenever I want. So for FBM Potluck 6, I made 3 different kinds: pork, shrimp, watercress, and mushrooms; pork and chive; and spicy pork and carrots.

I started off with the base which is the pork, ground pork to be exact. I like to get my pork for dumplings from a Chinese market or butcher because it had more fat in it. Fat is an important ingredient in dumplings. In this pork (which is about 1 lb), I add and egg, both dark and light soy sauce, sesame oil, mirin, corn starch, salt, vegetable oil, and xiao xin wine (optional). I mixed it thoroughly. Now it's time to taste. Not raw! Take a piece, fry it up and taste it. Is it seasoned well? Actually it should be slightly over seasoned because you'll be adding other ingredients to it. Once it's at a level that you enjoy yet slightly saltier, time to prep the other delicious foods.
For the pork, shrimp, watercress, and mushroom dumpling (I'm going to call it the Hungry), wash your vegetable thoroughly. I use about 1-2 bunches. Once washes, bring a pot of water to boil. Add salt then quickly blanch the greens until slightly softened and turns bright green. Remove and drain.
Once the greens are cool enough to handle, try to strain as much water out as possible my squeezing it with your hands. Then place it on a cutting board and chop it up finely. I like to pre-cook my watercress because it can be very bitter if placed raw into a dumpling.
And now the mushrooms. I use dry shitake mushrooms and reconstitute them in hot water. I cut off the stems and then chop them up really finely. You need about 20 of them in this recipe.
I mean really chop them up finely.
Lastly, take some cleaned, shelled, and de-veined shrimp and chop it finely as well.
Add it all together and mix well. Again, it's time to taste. Take a small piece and cook it up. Play with your seasoning until you're satisfied. This is the last opportunity that you'll have to make a great dumpling.
For the pork and chive dumpling, make sure to purchase Chinese chives. They're longer and flatter. The flavor is also much more distinct. Again, chop into small pieces and add to pork. You'll need about 3/4 of a bunch. You can use the rest with scrambled eggs on another day.
Plenty of meat to veggie ratio here. But you need to taste. Don't forget!
And for the last dumpling which I just created in my head, I grated up some carrots. I think I used one large carrot here.
And I also chopped up some scallions. Just 1 or 2 is fine. Use both the green and white parts.
Add to your meat along with some sriracha sauce, mix well, then taste again. I know, hard work, right?
And finally, the wrapping. You can use different styles to differentiate the fillings. One is like a fat tortellini, another is more like your traditional Cantonese dumpling, and the last is like a Taiwanese style wrapping being long and thin. I use store bought wrappers but feel free to use homemade (if you dare) too.
Here are the finished products, uncooked. They're sitting on a baking sheet lined with lots of cornstarch to prevent sticking. They can be left covered overnight in the fridge. Otherwise, I would advise you to freeze them. Oh, when you freeze them, do so that they don't touch each other and stick. Otherwise, you'll be digging out large chunks of dumplings to cook.
To pan fry them, I use a non-stick skillet with some oil. I heat it up and place the dumplings in. I let it fry for about 3 minutes then add some water about 1/2 way (3/4 for frozen) up the dumpling. Then I let it boil and steam and cook until all the water is evaporated.
You'll see the dumplings cooking through as the wrappers become translucent and the whole thing bulge with juices. When all the water  has evaporated, let the dumplings fry a little more to crisp up the bottoms again. It'll  take about 2 minutes. Then shut off the heat. Let it rest just ever so slightly (1 minute), scoop and serve. Serve plain or with one of your favorite sauces.

4 comments:

  1. Me liekd da sarimp dumlins. Me want sum mo.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Awesome. I think the Chinese chives are garlic chives. I only know this because I received chives, then garlic chives, in the past 2 weeks via my CSA and when I cut into the garlic chives, I thought "THAT is what's in those chive dumplings, not the other chives" - was surprised when I cut into the regular chives. So much more flavorful. I like garlic chives a lot.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh my word. I would have stolen that whole plate of dumplings away and started chanting, "My preccciiooouuussss!" Gorgeousness.

    ReplyDelete
  4. These....were....INSANE!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete