Happy Chinese New Year! It’s 4709 on the lunar calendar and this is the year of the rabbit. My year. And as luck would have it, I was invited to a dumpling feast. My girlfriends, Flora and Gwen, are dumpling aficionados, who also know how to create these delicate and decadent treats. I’m only familiar with the art of eating them. I wasn’t much help in the kitchen, but that doesn’t mean I came away empty handed.
For y’all, I snagged this dumpling recipe from Gwen. She emailed it to me with a note reading, “This is not exactly a recipe…. it’s more of a concept (does that sound annoyingly food snobby?)” Yes, it does Gwen. Yes, it does.
-3 cups all purpose flour
-1 1/3 cup warm water (or thereabouts)
Filling (standard pork dumplings):
-1 lb 80% lean ground pork
-veggies of your choice – usually this means Nappa cabbage, Chinese chives, or flat cabbage (don’t know the exact name of it but it looks like a “regular” cabbage but flat)
(amount of vegetables: as much as you want but should equal to 1/2 the amount of pork, after you’ve sweated the chopped veggies.)
-minced ginger and scallions
-soy sauce, cooking wine, sesame oil, salt and white pepper.
-maybe a tiny bit of sugar to balance out the flavors
1. Make dough – slowly add water to flour while mixing with chopsticks (nothing else works better than chopsticks here). When you have most of the water added in, start kneading. Keep adding water until most of the flour is incorporated but the dough should not be sticky. It should be soft and moist but NOT sticky. Be careful not to add too much water when making dough. Knead until smooth. Wrap in plastic wrap and keep aside for about 30-60 minutes.
2. Chop veggies, add salt and let sweat. Sprinkle salt over vegetables which will draw out the moisture, unlock flavor, and deflate them a little. After this process, you should have about 1/2 the amount (roughly 2:1 meat to veggie ratio).
3. For filling – put pork in large bowl. Squeeze out all water from veggies and add to pork. Add everything else. If you’re not sure if it’s tasty because it’s your first time making it, take a little piece and cook it up. See what else you need to add. Beat filling until a little sticky – this makes it easier to wrap. Place in fridge for 30-60 minutes.
4. Get dough out plus extra flour for rolling. Cut dough into about 3 pieces and roll out dough into a long snake. If dough is about 1 inch around, then cut into about 1/2 – 3/4 inch pieces. Squish into extra flour so it doesn’t stick, then roll out with rolling pin into a circle (thicker in the middle). Repeat about 100 times.
5. At the same time (or if you’re making these by yourself, cover rolled out skins with moist towel) place about 1 teaspoon filling at the center of skin and fold into pretty dumpling. No need for egg wash or water to keep the skin together but make sure no filling is touching the edges so that when you cook the dumplings the juice doesn’t seep out!
6. Suay-jiou (boiled dumplings) – place dumplings into boiling water, don’t crowd them. Bring to boil in about 2 minutes.
Gwo-tieh (potstickers) – put some oil into a nonstick pan. When it’s heated, put dumplings into pan – line them up pretty if you want. Brown the bottom for about 1-2 minutes then add water until it’s about 1/2 way up the dumplings. Cover and keep heat on medium. Remove cover when water is almost all gone. Wait until water is all cooked off, the oil will crisp the bottom once again if left for just a few more minutes.
7. Finally, before you let yourself descend into dumpling heaven, you’ve gotta make the dipping sauce.
Mix together soy sauce, black vinegar if you have it or rice vinegar (about 4:1 ratio with soy sauce, or to taste), sesame oil, Sriracha or fresh chilies of your choice, ginger minced or on a microplane.