Last December I was formally introduced to the fine art of dumpling making and I’ve fallen in love with these plump little pillows of melty, tangy mouthwatering deliciousness. I showed hubs how to make them and now we are the dynamic duo of dumpling-making.
A couple of weeks ago we decided to share our new-found skills and invited our friends over to a make your own dumpling dinner. Dumpling night was a hit as you can see from the photos below.
Try a dumpling night at your house. It’s a simple way to entertain family and friends. It takes a little bit of prep work in advance but when guests come over, you open a bottle of wine, pass out aprons and rolling pins, show them how it’s done and turn them loose. Expect rave reviews!
My friend (and home cook extraordinaire) Kate found the original recipe in the Seattle Times. She invited me to dumpling night during a recent Port Townsend visit and I was so excited by how simple and delicious they were that I had to make them again as soon as I got home. Dumplings are now a staple at our house. Hubs and I make them just for fun. We eat our fill and then freeze what’s left for future use. We’ve made both pork and chicken and although I haven’t tried veggie or tofu, I’m sure it would be pretty easy to adapt this oh so easy recipe from Judy Fu owner of the Snappy Dragon Restaurant in Seattle.
Judy Fu’s Pork Jiao-zi – Makes 36 dumplings
3/4 pound ground pork (not too lean)
1/2 cup minced napa cabbage
2 finely sliced scallions (green part only)
3/4 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
3 cups cake floor (plus more for rolling)
3/4 cup cold water (we found you might need to add up to 1/4 cup additional water to get the right “sticky” consistency.)
1. To make the filling: In a bowl, use your hands to thoroughly combine the pork, cabbage and scallions. In a separate bowl, mix the ginger, white pepper, soy sauce and sesame oil; add to the pork mixture. Mix thoroughly, in one direction only, until you have a well-blended paste. Refrigerate.
2. To make the dough: Pour the flour into a mixing bowl and make a well in the middle. Add water and stir to produce a fairly stiff dough that maintains a bit of stickiness. Add more cold water, a teaspoon at time if necessary, to achieve the correct consistency. Knead by hand for 2 minutes until smooth, then cover with a slightly damp towel or place in a zip-lock bag. Use immediately (or refrigerate the dough for no more than 24 hours). I think it’s easier to work with if it chills an hour or two.
3. To form wrappers: On a lightly floured surface, use your hands to roll dough into a log 1 inch wide. Cut the log in thirds. Pinch off (or cut) each log into 12 equal pieces. Working in batches on a generously floured surface, gently flatten each piece with your palm. Grasp the dowel (or rolling pin) in your dominant hand and roll from the middle to the outside edge, rotating the dough with the opposite hand until you have a 3-inch circle, slightly thicker in the center. *we also roll on the board, turning in the same manner to get the circular shape. Relax, you can’t mess these up. We had a few perfect little disks lots of blobs and oblongs. They all tasted great and as long as they stick together, it’s all good.
4. To assemble and cook: Hold the wrapper in your non-dominant hand and with your other hand use a dinner knife to spread about a tablespoon of filling into the middle. Fold the wrapper so the edges meet. Press edges to seal tightly and place on a lightly floured baking sheet. Use a little water to help seal if needed. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add dumplings. Don’t cook too many at a time. Boil for 5 minutes then strain. The dumplings will float to the top when they are done. We drained then placed them on another baking sheet with parchment paper to dry. We tried paper towels and they stuck.
Cooking and eating in this way can be your evening’s entertainment. We fortified ourselves by sampling a few of the first batch of dumplings than managed to cook the rest and sit down at the table where I served them with a noodle salad and an asian slaw (used up the rest of that napa cabbage).
Ponzu Sauce – So easy. So good. Makes 1 cup
1/2 cup fresh lime juice or 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice or a combination
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons mirin (sweet rice wine)
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 pinch red pepper flakes
Whisk together juice, vinegar, soy sauce, mirin and brown sugar. Let it sit at least 1 hour to marry flavors. Store covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days.
It truly is the simple pleasures that make our lives abundant. Good food, simply prepared and shared with good friends. It doesn’t get any better.
Life is good!