Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Mangia This · Chinese Pork Dumplings

Have you ever gone out for dim sum? It’s fabulous! Servers flit around with cart after cart of steaming dumplings, spicy bok choy and, my favourite, sesame balls. The food just keeps coming and coming until you say stop or fall asleep.

There’s only one problem. I have NO freaking clue how to order dim sum so that I know exactly what I’m getting. It’s not that I’m a picky eater – I just need to know what’s in my food. If I expect pork and bite into shrimp, the meal’s ruined. And so, I only go for dim sum when an experienced friend can come along.

A couple weekends ago it was Chinese New Year’s. I A) knew my dim sum friend was busy and B) new all the great dim sum restaurants in Chinatown were packed, so I decided to make my own dumplings.

This recipe may look a bit lengthy and complicated, but I promise you it’s not. This is a perfect recipe for a weekend in, with a bunch of friends and your list of resolutions from that other New Year’s Day that you can start breaking all over again. 

Makes 40 dumplings

Filling (Adapted from Steamy Kitchen)
12 ounces cabbage leaves, roughly chopped (I used savoy cabbage)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/4 cup minced green onions (white and green parts)
2/3 pound ground pork
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine (I used dry sherry)
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoons Chinese 5-spice

Put the cabbage in a food processor and process until cabbage is finely minced. You could do this with a chef’s knife – just put on some good tunes because it’ll take you a while!
Transfer minced cabbage to a large bowl and sprinkle with the salt. Let cabbage sit for 10 minutes.

In the meantime, add add the ginger, chives, pork, pepper, soy sauce, rice wine, Chinese 5-spice and sesame oil to the now empty food processor bowl. Pulse 5 or 6 times to mix the ingredients well. Set aside.

I used PC Black Label Chinese 5-Spice
Using your hands, grab a handful of the cabbage and squeeze the excess moisture out into the sink. Don’t skip this step or your dumplings will be super soggy! Place the dry cabbage back into the large bowl and fold the pork mixture in until combined.

Wrappers (From Bon Appetit)

2 cups all-purpose flour 

1 cup water
Place the flour in a large bowl. Stir in 1/2 cup of the water, working the water into the flour with your hands. Slowly add more water, about 1/4 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly so the water is fully incorporated before adding more. Stop when the dough is springy and soft, not too dry but not slippery.

Transfer to a clean surface and knead for 3 to 5 minutes. Cover with a damp cloth and let sit for at least 10 minutes.

Divide the dough into three equal pieces. Roll each piece into a long rope, about 3/4 inch in diameter.

5    Slice the ropes into 1-inch-long pieces.

6    Lightly sprinkle the pieces with flour, and roll them with one hand on the counter to form balls. Squash each ball with the center of your palm to flatten it like a silver dollar – a reference most people born after ’90 don’t get at all, but still, we'll keep using it.

7    Give a flour shower (aka sprinkle some flour) to the dough and work surface. Using a rolling pin and one piece of dough at a time, start from the center of the dough and roll outward, then roll back to the center. Turn the dough a few degrees and roll again. Continue rolling, turning the dough in the same direction, until you have made a full turn of the dance floor. The dumpling skin should be flat and round and slightly bigger than your palm. It probably won't be a perfect circle the first time you try - or the second - but your technique will improve as you go along (or you'll stop caring it's not perfect). 

8    Now here’s where things got real. I stacked my wrappers one on top of the other as I made them. BIG mistake. By the time I got to filling them, everything after wrapper #10 was one huge congealed mess. SO – next time, I’ll make a wrapper, fill a wrapper. Alternatively, you could do stacks of 5. If they’re going to hang out for a while, just cover them with a damp cloth so they don’t dry out.

The stack of horror

Take one dumpling wrapper in the palm of your hand, spoon 1 tablespoon of the pork mixture onto the middle of the wrapper.

Bring up the bottom side of the wrapper, fold up into a semi-circle and pinch the top.
Starting at one end, pinch the dough into pleats until the filling is completely encased.

Set dumpling aside - but make sure that the dumplings do not touch each other!

To Cook Dumplings

While you are wrapping, fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil over high heat.

Add the dumplings in batches of 20, and when the water returns to a boil, cook for 5 minutes. Drain and serve immediately with sauces below.

Beware: They're slippery little buggers!

Chili Oil
In a small, heatproof bowl, place 2 tsp chili flakes, one minced garlic clove and 2 pinches of salt

Heat 1/4 cup of chili in a frying pan until fragrant and oil appears to be rippling. Carefully pour warm oil into small bowl and let sit for at least 10 minutes for flavours to meld. 

Rice Vinegar
This one's easy. Pour some seasoned rice vinegar into a small bowl. Dip dumplings. Marvel at how this simple vinegar dip changes everything. 

I'd love to hear if you tried this recipe!


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