Have you started? After a slow start, I begun my Asian Dumplings exploration with gusto! I admit, I was nervous. I wasn’t sure how dumplings would fit in my day-to-day cooking. Daunted by my assumption that I needed a lot of new ingredients. Anxious they wouldn’t turn out. Maybe you feel similarly?
Well, forget your worries friends! You can make tasty dumplings at home and it is so easy! I did go out and get a few supplies, but only because I planned on cooking from all the tasty sections of the book. I popped into Uwajimaya with the kiddo one afternoon to pick up the things I place is simply amazing. The sheer volume of vinegar varieties alone is worth a look.
I promise though – for many of the recipes you won’t need anything you can’t get at your regular grocery store. Really! Andrea Nguyen has great information (and videos!) in general on her website, but for getting started and putting aside your ingredient-anxiety, go here first. In fact, Shaoxing rice wine is the only thing I’ve really needed that wasn’t available at any grocery store… and even for that there is a reasonable substitute (dry sherry).
Go forth. Get your dumplings on!
Meat and Chinese Chive Pot Stickers (p.33) with Tangy Soy Sauce (p.215) I started with the somewhat classic pot sticker and used ground beef and scallions (instead of chinese chives). Put it all in a bowl and stir it up. Nothing to it. The ginger I got at Uwajimaya was the freshest and juiciest I have ever had. I can’t believe how different it was!
The dough is also simple. Regular flour + water. Roll into a log, slice, and reshape to look like scallops.
Roll them out with your daughter’s very cute rolling-pin. (The next go around I actually just pressed them flat and stretched them… which also worked just fine.)
Follow Andrea’s (very thorough) suggestions for folding and arranging.
Pan fry, then steam. I steamed a bit of veggies on the side – a mix of carrots, spinach, kale and some of the last chard from the garden.
They look pretty great don’t they? They tasted fantastic!
Next up? Nepalese Vegetable and Cheese Dumplings (p.53) and Spiced Lamb Dumplings (p.56) with Spicy Roasted Tomato Sauce (p.218) I used holland peppers in all three, but I think they could have used a bit more heat. The overall flavors were good. I particularly liked the lamb fillings. I could have added a bit more salt to the tomato sauce, but a recent terribly over-salted French Onion Soup I made has me a bit afraid of over-salting. I know that Padma and Tom would have had some stern under-salted words for me.
Cabbage, spinach, peppers, onions, and spices cooking up. Later, you mix in the (ricotta-ish) cheese.
Invite friends over for dinner and make a party of filling the buns and dumplings. Doing it with friends made quick work of shaping and filling the various dumplings, as well as providing loads of laughs.
Ok, they look a tad sickly without the sauce. I think Andrea must have colored her dough (she gives ideas and instructions) and made it prettier.
Next? Baked Filled Buns (p.97) with Char Siu Pork Bun Filling (p.100) with homemade Char Siu Pork (p.224) First, a disclaimer – I am generally not a baked or steamed bun lover. I don’t think I like the usual somewhat-cloying sweetness in the dough. Still, I wanted to try a kind of bun and new the steamer would be busy with the rest, so opted for baked.
Before baking, they are brushed with an egg. Our chickens starting laying again that afternoon so the egg couldn’t have been fresher (or yellower!)
They turned out perfect! I mean, really, really perfect. The recipe just worked and had just a hint of sweetness. We made medium-sized buns and they were simple to make and easy to assemble. The easiest by far of all the dumplings we made. I really loved the pork filling and am glad I have extra char siu pork saved in the freezer (it made a lot).
I’d probably put a bit more filling to bun next time because I think I prefer a higher filling-to-bun ratio and I might chop the filling a bit finer. I thought they were good right off the bat, but I find myself continuing to think about them days later.
Bonus! The leftover buns were perfect with eggs for breakfast. In fact, baked char siu pork buns and over easy eggs might be my new favourite breakfast.
We also made Kimchi Dumplings (p.44) with Korean Dipping Sauce (p.215) with the extra chewy dough. I didn’t love the chewy dough, it was a bit gummy. I really enjoyed the filling however. Ohbriggsy thought they would have liked more intense kimchi-flavors in the batch they made. Since I used a rather mild kimchi, I added some aleppo pepper (an adequate substitution for korean peppers ordinarily used in kimchi). I also used shredded carrot instead of the out-of-season zucchini.
To drink, our friends brought over a selection of asian beers to try that they got at the Beer Junction. How fun is that? And, check out the cute owls!
If you haven’t started on dumplings, give it a try. The cookbook has very thorough instructions, the bulk of the ingredients are easily gathered, and the results totally worth it so far! It is easy to make a bunch of fillings in advance because there is a lot of overlap in ingredients. So, if you spend a few minutes on organization, you can easily chop/grate/mince all the peppers, all the scallions, all the garlic, all the onions, and all the ginger at once.
Have you made dumplings yet? Or before?