Monday, February 8, 2016

My Lunar New Year Pork Dumplings

Do you know anyone who does not like dumplings? I certainly have not come across any. In Boston Chinatown the restaurants that serve dumplings usually have a line outside their door on most weekend evenings. It seems just about every nation in this world has their own dumpling. My mother has her versions. Even I have several versions of dumplings. For me it depends mainly on what I have available in my house or what I am inspired to use for the filling. Here is a recipe that is simple and tasty. You can substitute pork for another meat such as chicken or turkey. I use both scallions and garlic leaves for this since I have both available. If you prefer less garlicky taste then omit the garlic leaves and use one garlic clove instead of two. For recipes such as this I prefer to use my microplane to finely grate the garlic and ginger. This way no one will be surprised by biting into a large chunk of these root vegetables while eating. My filling is not too salty since I like to dip the dumplings into a sauce. The sauce is simple--just soy sauce, water and sugar. I add equal amount of soy and water. Sprinkle in sugar according to your taste. Add as little or as much as you prefer. I put the sauce in the microwave and blast it for about 20 seconds. Add hot sauce if you want to give it a kick. This recipe makes at least 60 dumplings. You can make more dumplings if you use less filling for each one. I used about 3/4 tablespoon of filling for each dumpling and this yields about 60 dumplings. If you have extra filling left over you can fry it and make a sandwich with it.

My Lunar New Year Pork Dumplings

The Filling (enough for at least 60 dumplings)

Ingredients:

1.23 lbs ground pork
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp Chinese rice wine
1/2 thumb sized ginger, peeled, finely grated
2 garlic cloves, peeled, finely grated
1/2 tsp chicken broth powder (non-MSG)
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 onion, finely chopped (or about 1/3 C)
1/3 C chopped scallions
1/3 C sliced garlic leaves
6 oz thinly sliced napa cabbage leaves
1 egg (yolk and white separated)--the egg white will help seal the dumpling skin
1 Tbsp cornstarch

Method:

1) Break the pork into small pieces. Add soy sauce, oil, wine, ginger, garlic, chicken broth powder, sugar, pepper, onion, scallions, and garlic leaves. Gently mix everything well. Add the cabbage leaves and gently mix all ingredients until well blended. Cover and store the filling in the refrigerator about an hour or overnight to marinade. I put my filling in the refrigerator overnight.
2) The next day I take out the filling and blend in an egg yolk. Next sprinkle in the cornstarch and mix gently all the ingredients are well blended.

Making Dumplings

I use a store purchased package of Gyoza Skin (dumpling skin, 14-oz) for this recipe. The skin is made mostly from wheat flour, water and salt. Place a dollop of filling (about 3/4 tablespoon) to the center of the dumpling skin. Brush or use your fingers to wet the outer 1/4 inch of the skin with the egg white. Fold the skin in half. Seal the top and then seal one side at a time to remove as much air out of the filling as you can. Seal tightly so they will not open up during cooking. Make sure that the rest of the skin is cover (I used a dry towel) while you work so that they do not dry out. After making each dumpling do the same so they do not dry out during the process.

Cooking Dumplings

Add about a tablespoon of oil to a heated non-stick pan. Once the oil is hot place each dumpling sitting down on a pan. I push the dumpling gently down using my fingers to a sitting position so they do not roll to the side. This way the bottom of my dumpling is golden and slightly crispy once cooked. I also like the way the top of the dumplings look as a result from pushing the top down. The amount of dumplings can be in a pan at one time is depending on the size of your pan. Try to avoid overcrowding the pan with too many dumplings since this will cool your pan. Once the bottom is golden in color I add a little water (about 1/4 cup if that) to the pan and cover the pan for about 4-5 minutes to steam. You may have to turn down the heat to medium if needed to prevent burning the dumplings. Once the dumplings are translucent, uncover the pan and let the liquid cook until it evaporates. Remove the dumplings from the pan and they are ready to eat!

The Dumpling Sauce

There are many sauces for dumplings. Here is one that I like with these particular dumplings. I use an equal amount of soy sauce and water. Sprinkle in some sugar to taste. Heat in a microwave about 20 seconds until the sugar dissolves. Adjust the ingredients as needed according to your taste buds. Add chili pepper or Sriracha sauce if interested.


Leftover Filling Sandwich (serves 1)

I made 50 dumplings and used the remaining filling to make a burger for my sandwich. I fried the burger until lightly brown and cooked thoroughly. I toasted 2 pieces of baguette, spread some mayonnaise on the sides, layer one side with baby arugula, sliced European cucumber, cilantro, and pickled carrots (made from vinegar, water and sugar). I like my sandwich a little spicy so I drizzle some of Sriracha hot sauce on top!

The above photo is what the Lunar New Year looks like in Seacoast New Hampshire!! Small flakes of snow are coming down quickly. It's also pretty cold outside. I don't need to look at the temperature to know how cold it is. I judge the temperature by the leaves on this rhododendron shrub. When they are shrivel up like they do today you know you better bundle up warmly! Happy New Year!!

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