This is the 2nd challenge for the group the “Daring Cooks”.  The Daring Cooks are a spin off of the Daring Bakers and we will be challenging ourselves once a month with a dinner.  I was very excited when I saw that Jen of Use Real Butter was hosting, her site is brilliant, from the food porn photos to her witty stories of adventure and food.  I was pleased to see she picked the Chinese Dumplings as I have been dying to try my hand at dumplings.  Every time, I see a recipe for homemade Chinese or Japanese dumplings, I think about it and then decide it will be too difficult.  I was wrong.

 

making-dumplings-9

Lenny and I saved this recipe for a Sunday night dinner, that is the evening we usually do a little something that is more special;  nice way to end the week and begin a new.   The recipe is very straightforward and the entire process was so easy (we started at 4pm and had dinner ready to eat by 6pm) … mix the dough in food processor, knead, let rest, cut, roll and wrap around your choice of filling.

We decided to go with the pork filling as we both are pork lovers.  We did substitute the bamboo shoots with water chestnuts, as we wanted more crunch.  As well I added some beautiful green garlic I had picked up at the Farmer’s Market.  I did make the mistake of putting everything into the food processor and giving it a whirl.  I felt the meat did not have enough texture.  Next time I would mince everything except the meat, in the food processor and then mix together.

Lenny even got into it with helping, by pleating and wrapping our fillings.  He was definitely much better at it then I was.  In fact his dumplings were beautiful and so professional looking …. mine were sad!  I ended up being the roller!    So, we poured a couple glasses of wine, turned on some music and rolled and wrapped, it was very fun and it would make for a great dinner party!

I had looked everywhere for a bamboo steamer but everyone seemed to be out of them, so I used our stove top smoker, which I have yet to use as a smoker.  I filled it with water and lined the rack with a bed of napa cabbage and steamed the buns.  I did have to steam them about 20 minutes as the first couple, the filling was not cooked very well, otherwise, it worked out just fine.

End result, I will never go frozen again.  This recipe is simple, fairly quick, tasty and you can make a big batch and freeze for a later time!  Thank you, Jen, for picking such a great challenge and for getting us out of our comfort zone!  Please be sure to check out  the other Daring Cooker’s dumplings – they are tasty!

Chinese Dumplings/Potstickers

Chinese Dumplings/Potstickers

pork filling:
1 lb (450g) ground pork
4 large napa cabbage leaves, minced
3 stalks green onions, minced
1/2 cup water chestnuts, minced
1 green garlic, minced
7 shitake mushrooms, minced
1/4 (55g) cup ginger root, minced
3 tbsp (40g) soy sauce
2 tbsp (28g) sesame oil
2 tbsp (16g) corn starch

OR

shrimp filling:
1/2 lb (225g) raw shrimp, peeled, deveined, and coarsely chopped
1/2 lb (225g) ground pork
3 stalks green onions, minced
1/4 cup (55g) ginger root, minced
1 cup (142g) water chestnuts, minced
1 tsp (5g) salt
3 tbsp (40g) sesame oil
2 tbsp (16g) corn starch

dough: (double this for the amount of filling, but easier to make it in 2 batches – or just halve the filling recipe)
2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (113g) warm water
flour for worksurface

dipping sauce:
2 parts soy sauce
1 part vinegar (red wine or black)
a few drops of sesame oil
chili garlic paste (optional)
minced ginger (optional)
minced garlic (optional)
minced green onion (optional)
sugar (optional)

Combine all filling ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix thoroughly (I mix by clean hand). Cover and refrigerate until ready to use (up to a day, but preferably within an hour or two).

Make the dough, Method 1: Place the flour in the work bowl of a food processor with the dough blade. Run the processor and pour the warm water in until incorporated. Pour the contents into a sturdy bowl or onto a work surface and knead until uniform and smooth. The dough should be firm and silky to the touch and not sticky.[Note: it’s better to have a moist dough and have to incorporate more flour than to have a dry and pilling dough and have to incorporate more water).

Both dough methods: Knead the dough about twenty strokes then cover with a damp towel for 15 minutes. Take the dough and form a flattened dome. Cut into strips about 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide. Shape the strips into rounded long cylinders. On a floured surface, cut the strips into 3/4 inch pieces. Press palm down on each piece to form a flat circle (you can shape the corners in with your fingers). With a rolling pin, roll out a circular wrapper from each flat disc. Take care not to roll out too thin or the dumplings will break during cooking – about 1/16th inch. Leave the centers slightly thicker than the edges. Place a tablespoon of filling in the center of each wrapper and fold the dough in half, pleating the edges along one side (see images in post for how to fold pleats). Keep all unused dough under damp cloth.

To boil: Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add dumplings to pot. Boil the dumplings until they float.

To steam: Place dumplings on a single layer of napa cabbage leaves or on a well-greased surface in a steamer basket with lid. Steam covered for about 6 minutes.

To pan fry (potstickers): Place dumplings in a frying pan with 2-3 tbsp of vegetable oil. Heat on high and fry for a few minutes until bottoms are golden. Add 1/2 cup water and cover. Cook until the water has boiled away and then uncover and reduce heat to medium or medium low. Let the dumplings cook for another 2 minutes then remove from heat and serve.

To freeze: Assemble dumplings on a baking sheet so they are not touching. It helps to rub the base of the dumpling in a little flour before setting on the baking sheet for ease of release. Freeze for 20-30 minutes until dumplings are no longer soft. Place in ziploc bag and freeze for up to a couple of months. Prepare per the above instructions, but allow extra time to ensure the filling is thoroughly cooked.

To serve: Serve dumplings or potstickers hot with your choice of dipping sauce combinations.