Tuesday, July 14, 2009

pork dumplings

uncooked pork dumplings

my friend helen makes amazing food. she bakes like nobody's business (like, every night...or mornings before she gets into work) and the lady can cook-lah. she's introduced me, in one way or another, to so many foods, some of which i will never eat again (i'm talking about you, salty sour plum candy of death), some that i will never try (fish eyes come to mind), and some that she is currently teaching me how to make because i liked them so much.

her pork dumplings are one of those things. she's always claimed they are easy and she's even taught mini courses to her residents - asian wrap parties! so we made a play date, husband and me, to go to her house and learn the art of dumpling wrapping.

for those in the blogosphere, we happened to do this on the same weekend that the "daring cooks" brought dumplings to the table...but these do not follow that recipe and i had no idea it was taking place...i was actually a little bummed to see them all over the next day. i've waited for weeks to post, hoping people might actually want to see dumplings again.

helen's hands demonstrating the process

pork dumplings (courtesy of my chicken sister* helen)
2 packages dumpling wrappers (ours came 50 to a pack)
1 lb ground pork ( or a little more)
1 whole head nappa cabbage, finely chopped/water squeezed
1 bunch scallions, finely chopped
5-6 reconstituted shitake mushrooms, finely chopped
1 pack glass noodles, softened in hot water/cut
2 inches ginger, grated
4 cloves garlic, minced
6 tbsp sesame oil (about)
1/4 c soy sauce (more, to taste)
1-2 tbsp hot chili paste
salt and pepper to taste

combine all ingredients except wrappers and mix fully (by hand works best - meat should be slighted colored by soy sauce)

assembling dumplings:
1. take one dumpling wrapper and slightly stretch it
2. lay it flat in your palm and using your other hand, drop 1-2 tbsp pork mixture into the center
3. dip your free index finger into a bowl of water and wet the entire edge of the wrapper
4. gently fold the dumpling in half without pressing the seam
5. pinch the center front and fold it down, pressing to close the sides together at the center edge
6. pinch another fold just right of the middle, again pressing to the other side to seal
7. continue pinching, folding and pressing to complete the right side
8. repeat the process, folding in toward the middle, on the left side
9. firmly seal the outside corners and slightly curve the dumpling into a crescent

assembled. note husband's, 4 back in the right row ;)

to boil:
1. drop dumplings into boiling water
2. allow to cook until translucent and floating
3. drain and serve

to fry (pot stickers, literally):
1. heat oil over medium flame in a large saute pan
2. carefully line the pan with dumplings, do not overlap
3. cook until crisp but not burned
4. pour in 1/4- 1/2 c water (this results in lots of spitting and steam, careful!) and cover
5. allow to steam thoroughly, then remove from pan

to freeze:
1. line a baking sheet with parchment
2. place dumplings onto sheet, seperated so they are not touching
3. flash freeze for about 30 minutes, then drop into freezer bags for storage
4. to eat, boil or pan fry from frozen state

boiled, top left. all others fried.

it's good to make just one at first and toss it in to boil. since you can't sample the raw meat to adjust for taste, try a bite cooked and make sure you've got enough soy sauce in the mixture before you go making 100. you'll have dipping sauce, sure, but it's good to have the filling full of flavor. helen mentioned her mom also adds a cracked egg to the meat mixture. we didn't, but you certainly could.

yum. dinner for days.

we actually made double this recipe, so 200. enough for us to eat dinner while we continued to wrap, plus 2 one-gallon bags of frozen dumplings, 1 for both helen's house and mine. we dipped them into bowls of soy sauce and sesame oil. for a spicy version, we had a bowl with chili paste added, as well.

fried are better (of course!), but boiled are excellent too. husband and i have had multiple quick meal nights of asian cucumber salad and dumplings both ways and we have since plowed through our bag of frozen dumplings. they.are.good. it's worth it to make them at home, going the quick route with the pre-made dough, but spending time wrapping and chatting. it's also so inexpensive. it probably costs $10 for 100 dumplings...something a restaurant just cannot offer.

i can't wait until next time...korean sushi is at the top of my list. i eat that stuff roll after roll and helen's is the best!

*helen is my chicken sister because we competed with husband and my boss in a chicken wing eating contest. it was hilarious and horrible and disgusting. i love wings, but not when i'm racing to down dry, cold ones at fast as possible. we did not win...


mina said...

beautiful dumplings. but what is korean sushi? i hope you don't mean kimbap.

Helen said...

Hi Mina,

So, yes, we are referring to kimpap. We love to make it in our house. Kimpap is derived from the Japanese "futomaki" and as I know, is often colloquially referred to as a kind of sushi. Of course, there are distinct differences between the two (the seasoning of the rice with sesame oil as opposed to vinegar and sugar and the filling itself), but yes, we will be making this in the coming weeks.

Thomas said...

I love that you have Helen hand demonstrations. So important for Asian wrap days.

megan versaci said...

Wonderful suggestion to make so many at once and freeze! I can't believe $10 for 100 dumplings - what a deal!

I also like the tip to grate the ginger. I have made dumplings before and I have always "minced" the ginger. It always seemed like I was biting into a ginger nugget - not always that pleasant.

I plan to make these very soon.