Recipe: Warm Up With the Comfort of Dumplings!

       After a long hiatus from writing, I am hoping this simple yet meaningful post will redeem my absence. Yet again, I have rediscovered this amazing world of culinary delights !
      I rarely had time for my friends this past busy year of mine and when I did, I cherished every minute as they are my family away from home. I am dedicating this post to my “Sis” Ms. Maria Leung.  
      It’s the holiday season again and there’s no better way to show your festive spirt by sharing food with one another to warm up. I’d like to share a few dumpling recipes that will satisfy both omnivores and herbivores alike, these may be very simple to those who cook often, nonetheless, it’s the thought that counts. To me, there really is no better way of bonding with people other than with food. Some friends have already made their return journey home since this event, but I hope they have took a little part of this night home with them. People come and go, but memories do last forever!  
      It’s cold again and backtracking to a few months ago, I organized a girls dumpling night with collaborative measures to produce a fun meal together. There’s something really special about creating food that everyone likes and dumplings are my most favorite comfort food in the world! I can think of a collection of countries around the globe whom have their own versions of dumplings made from centuries’ old techniques passed from one generation to the next. Just imagine my ancestors wrapping dumplings exactly the same way as I do now!

The Wrapper
       First of all,  think of your wrappers. Buying wrappers help cut your production time in half but, for people like me who almost live to feel the wonderful life of homemade dough, may spend more time prepping it in advance. The wrappers bought at the local noodle specialty stores at wet markets are reliable and you can also find them at some supermarkets. You can make these ahead of time, store them in the fridge with a dusting of flour in between sheets and wrapped tightly in plastic wrap or ziplock bags. 
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Ingredients:

  • All purpose flour 3 cups
  • Water 1 1/3 cups (more may be needed depending on the humidity) 
  • Salt ½ teaspoon 
  • Vegetable juice of your choice 1/2 cup (optional for coloring, I prefer spinach for green or carrot for orange) 

1) Combine ingredients in a bowl and form a dough ball. 
2) Knead dough until some elasticity is formed into a smooth ball for about 5-10 minutes. 
3) After the colors are uniform and the texture is smooth, cut dough into 30-40 pieces and roll into spheres. 
3) Press flat with fingers and use a rolling pin to roll to your desired thickness. 

The Filling
For Omnivores
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  • Pork, minced  2cups (the meat of your choice, anything can be substituted) 
  • Shrimp, shelled and diced to roughly 1cm  1/2 cup
  • Scallions 4 Tbsp 
  • Ginger, minced 1 Tbsp 
  • Garlic, minced 1 tsp 
  • Cabbage, diced 1 cup 
  • Chinese Mushrooms, diced 1/2 cup (rehydrated overnight and pat dry)
  • Corn Starch or Arrowroot Powder 2 Tbsp  
  • Salt 1 tsp 
  • Soy Sauce 1 Tbsp 
  • Sesame oil 1 Tbsp 
  • Cooking Rice Wine 1 Tbsp 
For Herbivores
  • Scrambled Eggs 2 cups (Vegans substitute with tofu)

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  • Scallions 3 Tbsp 
  • Tomatoes, diced and seeded 1 cup 
  • Carrots, grated 1 cup
  • Bamboo Shoots canned, diced 1/2 cup
  • Ginger, minced 1 tsp
  • Garlic, minced 1 tsp 
  • Salt 1 tsp 
  • Sesame Oil 1 tsp 

Making Different Shapes and Sizes

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   As you may know, dumplings come in a prolific array of shapes and sizes and whether it is round or square, they are the most wonderful little pouches of dough encased goodness, which explodes in your mouth. My favorite is the half crescent shaped because it fans out perfectly on the pan, steamer and the plate. I am a pleasure after all and I do want an aesthetically pleasing presentation. 

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1)Prepare a dish of tepid water for sealing the wrappers after wrapping the dumplings and also prepare a flat tray with a light dusting of flour to keep the dumplings with sticking to each other. Keeping plastic wrap nearby can prevent the wrappers from drying out in plain air. 

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2) Take a piece of wrapper and make sure it is sitting in the middle of your palm before spooning a dollop of filling directly into the middle of the sheet. Careful not to be too greedy when spooning in the filling, you rather have a smaller dumpling than one that is overflowing and explodes when you close the edges. 
3) Once the desired amount of filling is placed, wet the edges of the wrapper and proceed to closing the dumpling to the form you wish to achieve. 
4) Place dumplings on floured tray and cover with plastic wrap and proceed to cooking. Keep in refrigerator or freeze them for future use. 

Cooking Methods 
Steaming 
     This is the method of my choice since it retains the shape, appearance of the dumpling as well is the most efficient way. Also the healthiest method when no additional salty broth or forms of oil needed. You really only need a steamer, some pieces of flat vegetables or parchment paper to prevent the wrappers from sticking to your steam tray. 

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1) In a large pot, place in water and place steamer in the middle and elevate the steamer if necessary to avoid any water from directly touching the steamer. 
2) Place flat vegetables or parchment paper on the bottom and then the dumplings. 
3) Once the water boils, cover the pot with a lid and wait about 10-15 minutes, depending of how many dumplings on in the steamer and at what stay of frozen or cold they are when you took them out of storage. 

Boiling 

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1) Boil a large pot of water where the dumplings will float comfortably inside without overcrowding. This water an be a broth of your liking, of course, to make things more interesting. 
2) When the water boils, place dumplings inside and wait for a second boil to occur. 
3) You can pour in more tepid water at this stage and over for a third boil. Usually after the third boil, the dumplings are ready to eat! 

Pan Searing

1) In a searing pan with a lid, pour in 1-2 Tbsp of cooking oil to gently coat the bottom and turn to medium heat. 
2) Place dumplings in pan and allow the bottoms to turn golden brown. 
3) At this time you can pour enough water to coat the bottom of the pan  to about 1/2 cm deep and cover the pan with a lid.
4) When all the liquid has been evaporated, the dumpling should be ready to eat. 


Deep Frying 
      There’s so much to say about deep frying, but I do not suggest this method if you are just cooking a home, a large amount of oil is required and I do not suggest reusing the oil for health issues. But if you really like the way a deep fried dumpling tastes. I say go for it. Remember to use precautions. 
1) In a deep pot pour in oil with a smoke point lower than 400 degrees C to roughly 60% full. I suggest vegetable oil or grapeseed. 
2) Line a tray with paper towels and have a slotted spoon ready. 
3) Once the oil reaches to about 365-375 degrees C, it is ready to use and you can slowly put in 4-5 dumplings at a time for about 5-10 minutes depending on the size and shape. 
4) Once the dimpling is golden brown it should be ready to be lifted from the oil and transferred to tray with paper towels and served immediately. 

The Sauce
chinesedumplingrecipes.com

There’s one type of Chinese black vinegar

that always needs to be in my kitchen, the Zhen Jiang or Chin Kiang Vinegar, 镇江香醋, from the Jiang Su provence in China. This is the base for my favorite dumpling dipping sauce of all time. If you are low on time, just using this vinegar as the sauce is perfectly acceptable. If you like to gourmet it up with a little kick, add sliced peppers, minced garlic and some Chinese BBQ Sa Cha 沙茶 Paste. These condiments are added to your liking and feel free to be more creative when you are feeding yourself of your guests. 

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