It was dumpling day at la maison de Tess. I began making dough for gyoza on Friday night to cook for Saturday’s dinner. Mr. Tess returned from Saturday morning errands with a package of shu-mai from Trader Joe’s for lunch. I had to laugh, because I’m sure he didn’t notice what I was making, but we both love dumplings. Check out another post about gyoza here.
This dish is adapted from Chinese kitchens: rounds of wheat dough stuffed with minced pork and cabbage then boiled or steamed. Once upon a time, servants of wealthy houses ate leftover food from the family table. Dumplings with cold noodle dough and congealed meat are not appealing, so clever servants devised a method of pan-frying the dumplings to get a pleasant crisp texture and additional flavor. This style of preparation became popular in Japan.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup boiling water
Mix the salt and flour together in a medium bowl. Add the boiling water a little at a time, stirring with chopsticks, until you can shape the mixture into a ball. Cover with a damp cloth and let it rest for at least 1 hour. Knead the dough until it’s smooth, about 5 minutes. Divide the dough into quarters, then form each part into a log.
You can proceed now to roll the wrappers, but I find it is easier to let the dough rest again because this dough is really elastic. That’s why I make the wrappers a day before. I cover the logs again with a damp cloth to relax again. When I get back to the kitchen, I score one log into equal segments. Ms. Shimbo says this recipe makes 40 wrappers, but they are rather thicker than I like, so I’d say each log should be marked for about 12 or 13 wrappers. I cut off a few segments at a time so the dough doesn’t dry out. Flatten a round in flour; roll it into a circle about 2 1/2″ in diameter. Then roll the outer edge thinner by rolling and turning the wrapper. The circle should be about 3″ across. You want thinner edges because when you seal the dumplings, the edge is pleated and you don’t want it too thick. Dust each wrapper liberally with flour and stack them. I make 4 stacks. Wrap the stacks tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Because I made more wrappers, and because the filling as per the original recipe was a bit stingy, I increased the amounts. (original in parenthesis) Also, I don’t mind having “extra” filling; it can be made into little meatballs and added to soups
- 3/4 (1/2) pound Chinese cabbage, upper leafy part only
- 3/4 (1/2) teaspoon salt
- 3/4 (1/2) pound ground pork or half ground pork and half chopped shrimp or flaked crabmeat
- 3 (2) teaspoons shoyu
- 2 (1) teaspoon grated ginger (I love ginger!)
- 3 (2) cloves garlic, grated (I love garlic!)
- 1 Tablespoon minced scallion, green part only
- pinch of sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Mince the cabbage and toss it with salt. Let it sit in a cloth (fukin) lined colander for 10 minutes. Squeeze to remove excess water.
In a bowl, toss the ground pork with the shoyu, and mix until the pork is sticky. Mix in the cabbage, ginger, garlic, scallion, sugar and pepper.
Wrapping the Dumplings
Divide the filling into quarters. You can gauge your filling per wrapper as you work. Put a small spoonful of filling in the middle of a wrapper, wet the edge with water, and fold the circle in half. Pinch at the top and make 3 pleats to the right, 3 pleats to the left. Squeeze the air out as you work. Place dumplings on a towel lined cookie sheet. Don’t let them touch each other. The dumplings won’t keep well in the refrigerator for very long (the dough gets gummy and sticky), but they can be frozen at this point.
- 6 to 8 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 cup boiling water per batch (Keep a kettle of boiling water on the stove.)
Over medium heat, heat a large skillet. Figure out how many dumplings will fit in your skillet without crowding and that will be the maximum you can cook per batch. Add oil to the hot skillet. When the oil is hot, place the dumplings in the pan, pleated side up and cook until their bottoms are golden and crisp. In a large liquid measuring cup combine boiling water and 1 1/2 to 2 Tablespoons oil. Pour that into the skillet so about 1/3 of the bottoms of the dumplings are covered with liquid. Cover immediately and steam over low heat for 8 minutes. Place the skillet on a wet towel to cool it quickly and use a spatula to carefully remover the dumplings to a serving platter. Cook the remaining dumplings the same way.
Condiments: hot mustard paste, soy sauce
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