Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Dumpling Ah

As children, my sisters and I used to say that to speak Cantonese you just follow each sentence with the word ‘ah’. Based on this assertion, we called these Chinese dumplings Dumpling Ah. (Similarly, to speak Queenslandese follow each sentence with ‘ay’, ay.) Every Chinese person I know has some childhood memory of making these dumplings with their mothers and aunties. It’s a great communal exercise – one of those dishes that is a bit boring and repetitive so best done in huge quantities over a gossip with friends and frozen uncooked for later cooking and consumption (be sure to cook from frozen - do not defrost!). This recipe makes about 50 dumplings

As a time poor 9-5er, I now see them as a great convenience, comfort food. Most wonderful in the winter months when you get home exhausted and hungry. Instead of spending all that time and money going out for takeaway, steam these and a few veges in 10 minutes...

The two main ingredients of Dumpling Ah are gow gee wrappers from the supermarket (other cooks may make the dough; I’m too lazy). These are the round white wrappers found in the refrigerated section of the supermarket, usually somewhere near the yellow hokkein noodles. The other main ingredient, pork mince, is harder to find. You may need to go to a butcher - I've found it in few supermarkets here in Australia. The other ingredients can usually be found in larger supermarkets and at specialty Asian ones.

500g pork mince
packet gow gee wrappers
6 shitake mushrooms, soaked for 10 minutes
1 cup Chinese cabbage, grated and liquid squeezed out
1 small knob ginger, finely grated
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1 small tin water chestnuts, chopped (optional)
splash each of soy sauce, Chinese rice wine and sesame oil

Squeeze liquid from the mushrooms and chop finely. Combine with the other ingredients and, using your hands, ensure they are all evenly distributed.

Take a gow gee wrapper and lay on an even, dry surface. Place a teaspoonful of the mixture on a wrapper, dip your finger in a bowl of water and wet the edge of the wrapper and fold over so the edges are joined. Pinch the edges of the wrapper, in around 6 places, giving the dumpling a “scalloped” look.

There are 3 main ways to prepare dumplings. Boil, steam and fry/steam.

Boiling – bring a pot of water to the boil. Place dumplings in the water and boil for 5 minutes. The skin will go translucent when they are ready. Rescue them immediately or they will fall apart.

Steam – place dumplings in a steamer and steam for five minutes. The skin will go translucent when they are ready

Fry/steam – unlike the previously mentioned methods, this method requires constant attention otherwise they will burn. Place dumplings, flat side down, in a heated frypan. Fry lightly for 2 minutes, then quickly add 50mls of water and immediately put on the lid. This will steam them.

Serve with a variety of dipping sauces – soy with ginger and spring onions, chilli sauce or chinese vinegar.

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