5.17.2011

Posted by Jo W. in , , | 10:11 AM 3 comments
Dumpling making is a labor of love. It takes a lot of work to make dumplings from scratch, but the results are so worth it. Every ingredient has to be chopped finely, each wrapper rolled out, and each dumpling formed by hand. There are shortcuts, such as buying dumpling skins or frozen dumpling ready to be cooked, but I much prefer to make them myself. If there's a hard way to do something, I'll be likely to try it.

Last Sunday, my mom and I spent the whole morning making a large batch of Chicken, Pork, and Chinese Chive Dumplings. We boiled some and made some into pot stickers for lunch, and froze the rest for easy meals in the future. The Chinese chives we used came straight from our garden, freshly cut that morning. In Chinese, they are called jiu cai (geeyou tsai). The smell is incredibly fragrant and onion-y, and are delicious in dumplings, savoury pancakes, or simply stir fried.


My mom picked a huge basket full, and carefully picked through them before giving them a thorough wash. It looks like a huge pile of grass, but trust me, it's a lot tastier than grass.




While my mom picked and sorted the chives, I made dumpling wrapper dough. This is a hot water dough; simply flour and hot water mixed and kneaded together until smooth. The hot water prevents some gluten development, resulting in a tender dough that is easy to roll out.


I first mixed the dough with a spoon when adding the hot water. When it was cool enough to handle, I used my hands. I kneaded it for about 10 minutes to get it smooth. It was tough to photograph while kneading! The dough rested while we prepared the filling.


In the meantime, ground pork and chicken were defrosting and dried shitake mushrooms and black fungus were soaking. In Chinese, dried shitakes are called xiang gu (shee-ang goo), literally "fragrant mushroom". They really do have a strong, fragrant scent that I love.


The ground meat was processed with cooking rice wine, salt, tapioca starch, soy sauce, and a little sugar, just until mixed. Before I convinced my mom to buy a food processor, she would chop everything by hand, the old fashioned way. I will always associate the sound of her cleaver methodically chopping each ingredient with dumpling making. However, the food processor makes each step so much easier, and we always make a huge batch at a time. First, ginger was finely minced and the shitakes and black fungus were chopped. After chopping, I briefly sauteed the mushrooms to release their fragrance.


The chives were finely chopped, and the meat was folded in, followed by the fungi. The filling was ready to be wrapped up and made into dumplings.

My mom and I make a good team. All the prepping of the ingredients, making dumplings wrappers, filling, and cooking would be a lot of work for one person. My mom and I are an efficient dumpling-making machine. As my mom was mixing the filling, I got a head start on making the wrappers. My mom is pretty fast at folding dumplings, so she would catch up to my wrapper-making. She would then cook some for lunch as I accumulated more wrappers.


I didn't get a chance to photograph my mom filling the dumplings because I was too busy trying not to lag behind!


The pot stickers were my favorite. I love anything that is crunchy and fried. DE-LI-CIOUS


My dad is snagging a pot sticker as I was trying to photograph them. I like eating them dipped in black vinegar mixed with chili garlic sauce. Our house smelled soooo good :)

I'm not going to write a recipe for these, as I have pretty much described the process. We don't follow a recipe or measure out ingredients. My mom has been making dumplings from scratch since childhood; she just knows how, and I am learning her methods. Everyone makes dumplings a little differently, and even our dumplings aren't the exact same every time. It takes a bit of experimenting and experience to make a good dumpling, and the best part is, you can eat your "mistakes". I certainly did, when I made dumplings for the first time on my own. They weren't nearly as good as my mom's, but the satisfaction of making them with my own hands was worth it.

I'll give ya the recipe for dumpling wrapper dough, though, since it's very straight forward.

Homemade Dumpling Wrappers


4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups boiling hot water

In a large mixing bowl, slowly pour water over the flour while mixing. I didn't need all the water, so add just enough water for all the flour to become moistened. When the dough is cool enough to handle, knead the dough until smooth. Alternatively, add the flour in a food processor, and slowly drizzle in the water as the machine is running. Let it run until dough is smooth.
Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest at least 20 minutes before rolling out.
Cut the dough into quarters and roll one quarter into a fat snake. Cut off small pieces, and roll them out on a very well floured surface. They shouldn't be too thin, and should be about 3.5 inches in diameter. Repeat until all the dough is used up. Make sure there is plenty of flour between the wrappers if you pile them up.

3 comments:

  1. kuhahahhaa these don't look like our failures from new years. They look soo yummy. My dad fries them in a different way though. I should watch and see how he does it hahah.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love dumplings and make them at home. But I never really added that green leaf. Although I must stay I bought those from chinese shop and didn't like the flavor at all.. really found it very grassy. May be next time I will chop and mix it with something as a stuffing :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. They are also good in savory pancakes! They have a delicious onion-y flavour, but I don't think they are grassy at all.

    ReplyDelete

Search

Bookmark Us

Delicious Digg Facebook Favorites More Stumbleupon Twitter