Sunday, May 11, 2014

How to Make Chinese Dumplings

Let's talk about food for a change, shall we?

When Chiara's 5 months' old, I started to introduce solids. And I knew then that I was in for a challenge. So what do you do with picky eaters? Be sneaky. Introducting my sneaky dumplings.

Ingredients you need to prepare:
  • 500 beef mince (or pork, it's really up to you. try buy lean mince not extra lean. Else the dumplings turn out dry)
  • 150g spanich (or any green leafy vegetables)
  • 2T Chinese Shaoxing wine or dry Sherry
  • 4T sesame oil (I usually put 2T first and if the mixture feels too dry, I add 1 or 2T more)
  • 1 thumb size fresh ginger, grated
  • 2T soy sauce
  • pinch of salt and pepper (or according to your taste)
  • 1/2t sugar
  • 60 round dumpling skins
What if you can't source the skins? Personally I had some bad experience buying frozen skins from Asian supermarkets. The skins I got were all stuck to each other once they're thawed...unless there's a special way to defrost them that I don't know. Since then, I started to roll my own skins.

There are only 2 ingredients for the dough ---- water + flour.

My method to make the dough for the skins:
Pour 1 cup of cold water in a big mixing bowl. 1 cup of water is usually enough to make 60 dumplings. However if you put less stuffings in each dumpling, it means you need more skins, thus more dough. My point is use 1 1/2 cups of water, to be safe. Then you start to add the flour little by little. At the beginning stir with a fork as you go. Once the dough gets thicker and difficult to stir, use your hands. Knead the dough until it's elasticky and not sticky anymore. Make sure it's not too soft either. Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel and leave to stand for 30 minutes. You can use this time to prepare the stuffing.

How to make the filling?
I put all the ingredients (except the skins of course) in a food processor and it does the job for me. If you don't use a food processor, finely chop the spanich then mix and stir the ingredients together until it's sticky.

Now the fun begins with making the dumplings.
First things first, always dust the surface and rolling pin with flour.
Tear off a little dough and always recover the bowl, so the big dough doesn't dry out. Break off little balls --- the size of 1/3 of a golf ball --- then roll them out. If you can, try roll the edges slightly thinner then the center. Put the filling in the middle.

Another method is to roll out a big sheet then use a cup or a round mould to cut them out.

How to fold dumplings:
There's nothing wrong with just dab a little of water on the edge then fold them in half and press tightly. My dad used to say dumplings made by this method don't stand (they lie on the tray), which is totally fine if *cough* you don't have some Asian house guests to share the dumplings with you. :D
If you want to show off your skill, here's a video to show you how to fold up a nicer looking one.

Put all the dumplings you've made on dusted trays (yes make sure everything's dusted!!)

You spot a round shape dumpling in the picture? That's because the last bit of filling I had was too much to make one and too little to make two. So I used two skins for that one. Just one on top and one at the bottom then seal the edges, tight.

This stage, bring a big pot of water to a boil. Cover and cook the dumplings in batches.
Once the water is boiling again, the dumplings will be floating. Don't scoop them out yet. Pour a small bowl of cold water and wait for the water to boil again.
This time, use a slotted spoon to take all the dumplings out and ready for the 2nd or 3rd batch.

Enjoy the dumplings as is while they're warm, or dip in vinegar, whichever way you like. There's some soup inside the dumplings, er.... don't burn your tongue. Wait for them to cool just a little bit.

If you have leftover, which doesn't always happen in my household. Drizzle a little oil and fry them in a non-stick pan. The skins will be crispy and the heat will rejuvenate the filling.

Last note:
It usually takes me 2 hours from beginning to end. But seeing my little madam gulping down 8 of them for dinner, it's totally worth the effort. Let's just call it labor of love....

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