Seven weeks and two exams into our second year of medical school and my roomies and I hadn’t had dumplings for dinner yet. Problem was, we hadn’t had time for a dumpling-making party. I was so excited when this month’s Recipes to Rival challenge was dumplings. We could fill them with anything, but we had to make our own wrappers. Finally, we had a deadline for making dumplings.
I’ve never been a huge fan of dumplings until my roommates and I had a dumpling making party last year. I just never had an occasion to eat them until we had bags of frozen homemade dumplings in the freezer for pre-exam week.
The recipe is one of those recipes my Chinease-American roommate, S, grew up on. The kind where you just throw a bunch of ingredients together and season it until it tastes right (microwaving little spoonfuls to cook the raw meat).
Here’s what the filling usually includes, with estimates on amounts.
- 1 lb. ground chicken
- 10 large shrimp, minced
- 1 c boiled Chinese cabbage, shredded
- 3-4 chilves, chopped fine
- a boat load of chives, chopped fine
- a thumb of shredded ginger
- an egg or two, depending on how wet the filling is.
- oyster sauce, to taste
- soy sauce, to taste
- sesame oil, to taste
- we might have added salt and pepper, to taste
This all gets mixed up with chopsticks, which was a little difficult with the enormous bowl of filling we were making. It’s best to let all the flavor’s marinade together overnight. On this occasion I was a little crunched for time. I was flying to visit my boyfriend for the weekend and only had the afternoon to make, fill, and photograph the dumplings for this post.
Knowing time would be short, I tried to make the dumpling wrappers ahead of time, hoping they would store in the fridge overnight in a stack… after all, the store-bought dumpling wrappers came in a neat little stack. I made a half recipe:
- 2 c flour
- ¼ t salt
- About ¾ c of hot water, added in ¼ c increments, to bring the flour together.
I kneaded and kneaded the dough into a super smooth ball, being quite liberal with the flour to prevent sticking. I let the dough sit for about 6 hours before I got around to rolling it out. For this, I brought out my pasta roller. I floured everything up, rolled the dough into a 1 in log and cut little ½ in disks off for flattening. Covering each disk with more flour, I patted it into a circle and rolled it through the pasta roller, turning the dough 90 degrees to keep it as close to a circle as possible. Again, more flour, and then I stacked them up for storage. I made 40 wrappers with the half recipe.
Here’s where I ran into trouble. Stacking doesn’t work so well because the dough absorbs any extra flour covering it and turns into a stick mess within an hour. I had to scrap my entire first rolling. The second time around, I stored the wrappers in stacks of parchment paper. The dumplings still stuck to the parchment paper, but I was able to carefully pull them off, flour them up, again, and wrap dumplings. Rolling out the wrappers really doesn’t take long if you have a pasta roller on hand, but you really ought to do it right before you plan to fill the dumplings.
Each wrapper was about 3 inches in diameter and about 1mm thick. We scooped about 1 tablespoon of filling into each, wet the edge of the wrapper with water all the way around and sealed. One half of the wrapper gets a few pleats folded in to make a little larger pocket for the filling. Cute little guys aren’t then?
Most the dumplings we freeze (we do make about 100 of them at a time), but a few we’ll cook right away. I’m not quite sure how long we cook them for. The way S does it is she boils a pot of water and dumps in 15-20 dumplings. Then when it comes to a boil again, she removes 1 cup of water, replacing it with 1c of cold water. She lets it come to a boil again and repeats this twice more. Then the meat should all be cooked. I’m sorry I don’t have any pictures of the cooked dumplings, we were too hungry after all this work of putting them together that we just scarffed them down. We’ve got another exam in less than two weeks… there’s a good chance we’ll be making some more. Perhaps I’ll take a study break to photograph the finished product.
Although store-bought dumpling wrappers are far easier to deal with, I’m glad to know I can whip up some of my own without too much trouble.