I did a fair amount of research and testing leading up to the party and what I discovered is that dumplings are super versatile. Your basic filling involves a meat, a vegetable, herbs, spices, eggs for binding, cornstarch for absorbing excess moisture, and whatever seasonings you would like. Mama Tsoi makes her wrappers from scratch, but I cheated and used store brought.
I put 9 friends to work, folding and pleating dumplings, while I focused on cooking.
You can steam, boil, panfry or deep fat fry. I prefer the panfry method, as it results in a crispy bottom and tender tops.
They were fast learners and 300 dumplings were done in a jiffy. It was a wonderful afternoon of cooking, eating and drinking (lychee martinis). I feel less like an orphan.
Here’s my recipe, which is a hybrid from all my research:
Classic pork, cabbage and scallion dumplings
Makes about 200 to 250 dumplings
1 head Napa cabbage (about 1.5 lbs.)
3 bunches of scallions
4.5 lbs. ground pork
2 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper (white or black)
4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
3 tbsp. fresh ginger root, finely grated
2/3 cup soy sauce
3 eggs, beaten
1/3 C sesame oil
1/3 C Shaoxing rice wine
2-3 T corn starch
Commercially available dumpling wrappers (enough to make ~250 dumplings) Twin Marquis was the only brand I could find. I recommend the shanghai style (white) round wrappers.
a small cup of water for wetting the wrapper
rice wine vinegar
Using a food processor (in batches), finely chop the Napa cabbage, using the pulse. Set in a strainer, lightly salt and let sit for 15-20 minutes. Squeeze out excess water.
Chop scallions by using the pulse function.
Separately, add salt, pepper, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine, and corn starch to the ground pork and mix well. Combine the vegetables, beaten eggs, and the ground pork mixture, using hands to thoroughly mix together if necessary.
I would cook a small amount and season to taste, accordingly.
I took this 1/3 of this filling and added 1 cup of minced shitake mushrooms, and half a bunch of cilantro for a variation.
My third dumpling was inspired by tomorrow’s Super Bowl, I made buffalo chicken dumplings.
1 lb skinless, boneless chicken thigh
1/3 C Frank’s buffalo sauce
6 stalks of celery
4 ozs of cream cheese
Pulsed it all together in the food processor. This made about 40 dumplings.
Cooking directions (from tinyurban kitchen.com) :
You will need to work in batches here, since each pan can only pan fry one layer of dumplings at once. Add 1-2 T of vegetable oil to a nonstick (e.g., cast iron pan) pan and heat to medium high heat. Once the pan is really hot, place the dumplings (either fresh or frozen) in one layer (flat side down) inside the pan.
You should hear significant sizzling. Let the dumplings cook for about 2-4 minutes, or until the bottoms are golden brown.
Add about ½ cup of water (or enough that there is about ¼ inch of water in the pan). Cover, and reduce heat down to medium. Cook for about 5-7 minutes, or until all the water evaporates and you begin to hear that sizzle sound again.
Gung hay fat choy, my friends!