|Saturday, September 19, 2009
We stuffed our skins with dumplings made from Andrea Nguyen's new book, Asian Dumplings.
These porky packets were fun to fabricate and dough-licious.
Pork and Napa Cabbage Water Dumplings
Makes 32 dumplings, serving 4 as a main course, 6 to 8 as a snack or starter
2 cups lightly packed finely chopped napa cabbage, cut from whole leaves (about 7 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon plus scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh ginger
1/4 cup chopped Chinese chives or scallions (white and green parts)
2/3 pound ground pork, fattier kind preferred, coarsely chopped to loosen
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 cup Chicken Stock or water
11/2 tablespoons light (regular) soy sauce
1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
1 tablespoon canola oil
11/2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 pound Basic Dumpling Dough (see recipe below)
2/3 cup Tangy Soy Dipping Sauce (see recipe below)
1. To make the filling, put the cabbage in a bowl and toss with the 1/2 teaspoon salt. Set aside for about 15 minutes to draw excess moisture from the cabbage. Drain in a mesh strainer (the cabbage could fall through the large holes of a colander), flush with water, and drain again. To remove more moisture, squeeze the cabbage in your hands over the sink, or put on a cotton kitchen towel (not terry cloth) and wring out the moisture over the sink. You should have about 1/2 cup firmly packed cabbage.
2. Transfer the cabbage to a bowl and add the ginger, Chinese chives, and pork. Use a fork or spatula to stir and lightly mash the ingredients so that they start coming together.
3. In a small bowl, stir together the remaining scant 1/2 teaspoon salt, the white pepper, chicken stock, soy sauce, rice wine, canola oil, and sesame oil. Pour these seasonings over the pork and cabbage mixture, then stir and fold the ingredients together. Once the pork has broken up, briskly stir to blend the ingredients into a cohesive, thick mixture. There should not be any visible large chunks of pork. To develop the flavors, cover and set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes. You should have about 2 cups of filling. (The filling can be prepared 1 day ahead and refrigerated. Bring it to room temperature before assembling the dumplings.)
4. In the meantime, make 16 wrappers from half of the dough. Aim for 31/4-inch-diameter wrappers.
5. Before assembling the dumplings, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. (If you plan to refrigerate the dumplings for several hours, or freeze them, lightly dust the paper with flour to avoid sticking.) For each dumpling, hold a wrapper in a slightly cupped hand. Scoop up about 1 tablespoon of filling with a bamboo dumpling spatula, dinner knife, or fork and position it slightly off -center toward the upper half of the wrapper, pressing and shaping it into a flat mound and keeping about 1/2 to 3/4 inch of wrapper clear on all sides. Then fold, pleat, and press to enclose the filling and create half-moons.). Place the finished dumpling on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the other wrappers, assembling the dumplings and spacing them a good 1/2 inch apart on the baking sheet. Keeping the finished dumplings covered with a dry kitchen towel, form and fill the wrappers from the remaining dough.
6. Once all the dumplings are assembled, they can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for several hours; they can be cooked straight from the refrigerator. (For longer storage, freeze them on the baking sheet until hard (about 1 hour), transfer them to a zip-top freezer bag, pressing out excess air before sealing, and keep them frozen for up to 1 month; partially thaw, using your finger to smooth over any cracks that may have formed during freezing, before cooking.)
7. To cook the dumplings, half-fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add half the dumplings, gently dropping each one into the water. Nudge the dumplings apart with a wooden spoon to keep them from sticking together and/or to the bottom of the pot. Return the water to a simmer and then lower the heat to maintain the simmer and gently cook: a hard boil can make a dumpling burst. Cook the dumplings for about 8 minutes, or until they float to the surface, look glossy, and are puff ed up and a tad translucent. Use a slotted spoon or skimmer to scoop up the dumplings from the pot, a few at a time, pausing the spoon’s motion over the pot to allow excess water to drip back down before putting the dumplings on a serving plate. Cover the plate with a large inverted bowl to keep the dumplings warm. Return the water to a boil and cook the remaining dumplings. When done, return the first batch to the hot water to reheat for a minute or two. There is no need to reboil.
8. Serve the hot dumplings immediately, placing the serving plate in the middle of the table for people to reach to or pass along. Serve the soy dipping sauce either in a communal bowl with a spoon for people to help themselves or divided up among individual rice bowls or large dipping sauce dishes. To eat, pick up a dumpling with chopsticks (you can stab it if you like) and dip or roll it in the dipping sauce. Getting an assist from a soupspoon or the rice bowl, deliver the dumpling to your mouth with the chopsticks. If there are juices inside, they’ll spill out into the spoon or bowl when you bite into the dumpling.
Basic Dumpling Dough
Makes about 1 pound, enough for 32 medium or 24 large dumplings
10 ounces (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
About 3/4 cup just-boiled water (see Note)
1. To prepare the dough in a food processor, put the flour in the work bowl. With the machine running, add 3/4 cup of water in a steady stream through the feed tube. As soon as all the water has been added, stop the machine and check the dough. It should look rough and feel soft but firm enough to hold its shape when pinched. If necessary, add water by the teaspoon or flour by the tablespoon. When satisfied, run the machine for another 5 to 10 seconds to further knead and form a ball around the blade. Avoid overworking the dough.
2. Alternatively, make the dough by hand. Put a bowl atop a kitchen towel to prevent it from slipping while you work. Put the flour in the bowl and make a well in the center. Use a wooden spoon or bamboo rice paddle to stir the flour while you add 3/4 cup water in a steady stream. Aim to evenly moisten the flour. It is okay to pause to stir or add water—it is hard to simultaneously do both actions. When all the water has been added, you will have lots of lumpy bits. Knead the dough in the bowl (it is not terribly hot) to bring all the lumps into one mass; if the dough does not come together easily, add water by the teaspoon.
3. Regardless of the mixing method, transfer the dough and any bits to a work surface; flour your work surface only if necessary, and then sparingly. Knead the dough (it is not hot) with the heel of your hand for about 30 seconds for machine-made dough, or about 2 minutes for handmade dough. The result should be nearly smooth and somewhat elastic; press on the dough; it should slowly bounce back, with a light impression of your finger remaining. Place the dough in a zip-top plastic bag and seal tightly closed, expelling excess air. Set aside to rest at room temperature for at least 15 minutes and up to 2 hours. The dough will steam up the plastic bag and become earlobe soft, which makes wrappers easy to work with.
4. After resting, the dough can be used right away to form the wrappers. Or, refrigerate it overnight and returned it to room temperature before using.
Note: Recipes for hot-water dough often call for boiling water to hydrate the dry ingredients, but I find that practice too dangerous and prefer to let the water rest first. For the just-boiled water, half-fill a kettle or saucepan with water and bring it to a boil. Turn off the heat and after the bubbling action subsides, 30 to 90 seconds (depending on the heating vessel), pour the amount needed into a glass measuring cup and use for making the dough. I typically wait no more than 2 minutes after boiling to use the water.
Tangy Soy Dipping Sauce
Makes about 2/3 cup
1/3 cup light (regular) soy sauce
21/2 tablespoons unseasoned rice, Chinkiang, or balsamic vinegar
1/8 teaspoon sugar (optional)
1 to 3 teaspoons Chile Oil (optional)
1 tablespoon finely shredded fresh ginger, or 2 teaspoons finely minced garlic (optional)
Combine the soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar in a bowl. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Taste and adjust the flavors to your liking for a tart-savory balance. Add as much chile oil as you like for some heat. The sauce can be prepared several hours in advance up to this point. Right before serving, add the ginger or garlic for a fresh layer of punch.
Reprinted with permission from Asian Dumplings
by Andrea Nguyen, copyright © 2009.
Published by Ten Speed Press. Cover photo credit: Penny De Los Santos © 2009