Remember how last year Gord and I made potstickers and shrimp shumai to celebrate Chinese New Year? Well we did it again (with the dumplings, anyways)! This year, said dumplings/pot-stickers didn’t come out looking like turds. I thought it was an improvement, but you can decide that for yourself.
Having never made dumplings before last year’s day-long food fest, Gord and I spent much of our 2011 time perplexed over the best way to seal one side of the wonton wrapper to the other, while still creating something that looked even vaguely appetizing. This year, we were pros (well Gord was a pro, I was still crimping them closed incorrectly and eating wonton wrappers like raw pasta). The picture above illustrates how the finished, raw dumplings looked like cute little stegosaurus.
Of course, simplicity must come with another new challenge. This year’s challenge was uncontrollable, and not due to my lack of neat food origami skills.
Just as Gord and I were about to get our hands all up in the raw ground pork to make the dumpling filling, the water along his entire street went out. Water is kind of a crucial part of the whole cooking and cleaning process. So we decided Gord would be the solo mixer. After, his hands looked like he had just run them through a vat of zombie brains (seasoned with green onions). Much paper towel was utilized and a careful cooking process followed to avoid sickness.
Thank heavens I had brought along my trusty Carleton water bottle. It was filled to the brim with the great elixir of life, and leftover water doubled as our steaming and post-dumpling party cleaning fluid.
Take that, forces beyond my control – I have now successfully made bruschetta without power and dumplings without water.
PS: last year when I brought the dumplings home, we were stupid and packaged the soft, stuffed wonton membranes into a Ziploc bag. They promptly froze into one giant clump in the freezer, making the resulting photos of the defrosted dumplings (see above, again) even less appetizing. This year, we froze first, packaged after. There is now a bag of dumpling happiness sitting in my freezer which I will be steaming up on January 23.
PPS: Like last year, I will again use a shot glass to hold my soya sauce. Some things never change.
Recipe: Chinese dumplings
From Use Real Butter (ed. note: best, most-true blog name ever)
– 1 lb ground pork
– 4 large napa cabbage leaves, minced
– 3 stalks green onions, minced
– 7 shitake mushrooms, minced (if dried – rehydrated and rinsed carefully)
– 1/2 cup bamboo shoots, minced
– 1/4 cup ginger root, minced
– 3 tbsp soy sauce
– 2 tbsp sesame oil
– 2 tbsp corn starch
– 1 package of round wonton wrappers, bought at a Chinese grocer
Combine all filling ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix thoroughly with your hands. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Put a small amount of filling in the middle of each wonton wrapper and gently wet the outside border of the entire wrapper with a wet finger. Fold in half and crimp the edges to create a dumpling shape.
To steam: Place dumplings on a single layer of napa cabbage leaves or wax paper in a bamboo basket and steam for about 6 minutes.
To pan fry (potstickers): Place dumplings in a frying pan with 2-3 tbsp of vegetable oil. Heat on high and fry for a few minutes until bottoms are golden. Add 1/2 cup water and cover. Cook until the water has boiled away and then uncover and reduce heat to medium or medium low. Let the dumplings cook for another 2 minutes then remove from heat and serve.
To freeze: Assemble dumplings on a baking sheet so they are not touching. Freeze for 20-30 minutes until dumplings are no longer soft. Place in ziploc bag and freeze for up to a couple of months. Prepare per the above instructions, but allow extra time to ensure the filling is thoroughly cooked.
Makes about 4 servings.