Okay, how about a recipe for a change?
Over the weekend, I did my annual Chinese-dumpling- making marathon. I do this once a year in the winter, preferably when I’m snowed in, but in the absence of snow I’ll still make them because, where the hell’s the snow? (Actually, it snowed today and I credit the dumplings.) Also, coinciding with the Chinese New Year, with which they are traditionally associated, is sometimes a happy accident. But again, not this year.
I make enough to freeze for many meals to come. It takes hours, but it’s worth it. If you’re not up to the task, you can buy Japanese gyoza at Trader Joe’s. They’re pretty tasty. But those wonton wrappers are a bit flimsy for my taste. These are more substantial, and you don’t have to worry about them falling apart when you pan-fry them. And I always pan-fry them.
For some reason, this year I started crimping the edges with a fork. It works well, but they look all wrong, as if they might be filled with sweet apple instead of delicious pork. So I went back to using my fingers. Besides, I have a hunch the Chinese aren’t using a fork to crimp their dumplings.
Here are the specs. It makes many, many, yet not nearly enough.
Chinese (or maybe Taiwanese) Dumplings
1 head Napa cabbage, quartered
1 lb. ground pork
½ bunch Chinese chives (or scallions), trimmed and minced
2-inch piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. sesame oil
½ tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil, plus 3 Tbsp. for frying
5½ cups flour
2 cups water, plus ½ cup for steaming
Rice vinegar (or white vinegar)
To make the filling, put cabbage into a large pot with water to cover, top with lid, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until soft, 15-20 minutes. Drain and cool. Squeeze out excess water. Finely chop cabbage and transfer to large bowl. Add pork, chives, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, salt, and vegetable oil. Mix well with your hands. Cover with plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.
For the wrappers, put flour into large bowl and gradually add water, stirring with a fork until dough can no longer be stirred. Turn out onto lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Transfer to clean bowl, cover with plastic, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 3 hours. Divide dough into 8 pieces. With hands, roll each into a 1-inch thick rope. Cut ropes into 1-inch pieces and roll into balls. With a rolling pin, roll out balls into 3½-inch circles. Keep remaining dough covered to keep from drying out.
For each wrapper, put 2 tsp. of filling in the center and fold dough over to form a half circle. Pleat the edges together with your fingers. If they don’t stick, use a little water in between to seal. Transfer to a floured baking sheet and cover with plastic. Repeat. Freeze on individual trays until frozen. Then store in freezer bags until ready to use.
To pan-fry, heat 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches of no more than 8, add dumplings with ½ cup water, cover, and cook until the bottoms begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking, covered, until filling is cooked through, 8-10 minutes.
For the dipping sauce, combine equal parts soy sauce and vinegar in a quantity that makes sense.
Source: adapted from Saveur. Unfortunately, the recipe got separated from the magazine article itself, so I don’t know the surely-very-interesting back-story. Just that the recipe came from Thomas Kuo, who was probably Asian. I would call Saveur to find out more details, but that’s just asking for a copyright infringement lawsuit. Plus, they don’t return my calls.