February 7, 2012

Recipe Corner: Dumplings

Who doesn’t love dumplings? And once you discover how much fun they are to make with a little practice—especially if you enlist some friends to help stuff and fold them—you’ll visit your local Chinese takeout a lot less often. Any Asian market will have dumpling wrappers, as will many large supermarkets; look in the refrigerator cases. They come in square or circle shapes; both work fine. Dumpling wrappers freeze well and don’t take up much space, so keep some around—you never know when a dumpling craving might hit you.

1 pound ground pork
1 bunch green onions, finely chopped
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 package dumpling wrappers
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
Red pepper flakes
Soy sauce

1. In a bowl, season the pork with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes (or any hot sauce you like) and mix well.
2. Saute the regular onion in a tablespoon of olive oil, at medium-high heat. Add a pinch of salt to the onions right after they hit the pan. Cook for 6-8 minutes. After 5 minutes or so, add the garlic.
3. Add the diced pork and the green onions to the pan with the regular onions. Add 2 tablespoons of soy sauce (2 takeout packets is perfect).
4. Stir often, and cook until the pork is cooked through, 6-7 minutes. Taste the mixture; it should be delicious on its own. If not, adjust the seasoning.5. Make a clean surface on a counter or a cutting board, at a kid-friendly height. Lay out the dumpling wrappers, 3 for each person who is making dumplings. Put a small dish of water out, too.
6. Dip your finger in the water, and trace a half moon of water on the edge of each dumpling. Be sure not to use too much water, or they won’t seal properly.
7. Put a little more than a teaspoonful of the pork mixture at the center of each dumpling. You want to make sure not to overstuff them, or they might fall apart.
8. Fold them up any way you can imagine, just make sure the dough is squeezed together tightly all the way along the edge.
9. Steam for 10 minutes or so. (If you don’t have a steamer, it’s easy to make one: Take your biggest pot that has a tight fitting lid. Put 1/2 inch of water and bring it to a boil, then set it at a simmer. Crumple up tin foil and stick it in the pot, so it creates a very rough surface an inch above the level of the water. Place the dumplings on the tin foil and cover the lid tightly).


If you like fried dumplings more than steamed: heat 1/2 inch of vegetable oil in your heaviest pan. Drop a tiny corner of dumpling wrapper dough in the oil to test. If it bubbles immediately, the oil is hot enough, otherwise let it get hotter. Fry the dumplings in batches, about 3 minutes per batch. The oil won’t cover the dumplings; flip them after 2 minutes or so. As they are finished, put them on paper towels to drain off excess grease.

Whether you steam or fry your dumplings, make sure to let them cool for a minute or two before eating: they’re hot!

Dumpling Dipping Sauce
Soy sauce with a pinch of sugar and some red pepper flakes is fast and tasty.

Bonus tip: The dumpling filling works great for tacos, too! (I always stash some away in a Ziploc bag for exactly this reason).

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