The Chinese dumpling can be an appetizer, an ingredient in soup or a main course. They typically consist of ground meat and/or vegetable filling wrapped in a thinly rolled piece of dough and it is one of the most important and most traditional dishes in China.
Known by various names even in China ...
Guotie (wor tip) (gau ji ) or Jiaozi,
In the US they are known by different names too. Joyce Chen's Cambridge, MA restaurant named them Peking Dumplings in 1958, while other menus call them Pan-Fried Dumplings or even Pot-Stickers.
I call them Really Tasty ...
(OK, I don't really call them that. I just call them Chinese Dumplings)
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The thing with this dish is that, so far, it hasn't made much difference what I fill them with... They are always really good.
And the reason for that is the Dipping Sauce that you can make if you
this link : Bobby's Kicked-Up Dumpling Sauce
You should make a batch of it first before you make the dumplings. It gets better if it sits in the fridge for a couple of hours.
But for now, let's get started learning how to make the dumplings.
They Call It "THE WRAPPER"
If you have access to a Chinese supermarket you will find a variety of perfectly pre-made dumpling wrappers. ( In the Quincy-Braintree area there is Kam Man, New York Mart and 99 Ranch markets. Even the Stop & Shop in North Quincy also carries them, but they don't have as many choices.) I have used the ready made ones ever since the time that I made my own a few years ago. It was a lot of work. It was messy. My counter looked like I was a cocaine dealer from all the flour everywhere. The fresh ones were really good, but the ones from the store are too. Sometimes, it is just better to leave things up to the professionals.
OK... That was easy, right? Now let's talk about the fillings.
As I mentioned previously, Chinese Dumplings are a dish that has turned out really well no matter what I put in them, but I do have some favorites.
1 lb - Hot Italian Sausage links or just ground sausage meat (or any type of sausage if you like)
3 or 4 stalks of scallion/green onion
1 medium sized carrot
3 - 4 inch long piece of fresh Ginger root, peeled (If you don't have fresh ginger root, use 1-2 Tbsp of Ground Ginger powder. It will work, but it lacks texture and it has a lot less flavor than the fresh root)
Make the Filling:
If you have sausage links, remove the meat from the casings, and discard the casings. Put the sausage meat into a large mixing bowl.
With a (potato) peeler, shave the carrot into thin strips onto a cutting board. (be patient and watch your fingers) When the carrot is too small to safely hold it, put it down on the cutting board to make the last passes with the peeler. Then take your favorite chef knife and dice the carrot strips until they are pretty small. Put them into the bowl with the meat.
Remove the little roots from the bottom of the scallions (or leave them on if you want, they won't hurt you). Chop up the scallions into pieces that are a little larger than the carrots. Put them in the bowl too.
If you don't have fresh ginger: Put the ground, powdered ginger into the bowl.
If you do have fresh ginger: Over your waste bowl or garbage disposal, scrape the brown "bark" off of the ginger root with the back (dull side) of your chef knife. There's no need to use a peeler because it takes off too much of the good stuff. The bark come off very easily.
Thinly slice the peeled ginger lengthwise, and then stack the slices and slice it again into little "toothpicks". Chop the toothpicks into smaller pieces and toss the whole thing into the bowl with the other ingredients.
One way or another, you are going to have to use your hands to make the dumplings, so I recommend that you not bother using a wooden spoon or some other tool to mix the bowl of ingredients. It is so much easier to dig in with your hands and thoroughly mix the ingredients.
Then you can clean your hands while you rinse off the cutting board and dry it off.
Fill the Dumplings
Put some water in a small bowl or cup. You will use this to glue the wrappers together.
Open your package of dumpling wrappers and spread them out over the dry cutting board
Take a small spoon (like what you stir your coffee or tea with) and scoop a little blob of filling onto the middle of each wrapper
Dip a finger into the water and use it to wet the edges of the wrapper. This will re-activate the dough and allow you to press the edges together.
Here are the 4 steps of sealing a round wrapper.
Make sure that you have wet the edges that will be pressed/joined together
Fold in half and press the two edges together at the mid-point to join them
Fold one side inward and press
Flatten and pinch the part that buckles out
Repeat 1-3 on the other side
There are really good videos on YouTube that can show you this in more detail...
Here's an excellent one where the chef does it the "Hard Way" by making them from scratch. Notice that they don't need to re-activate the dough with water because it is still fresh and soft.
That's it... Now just do the same thing until you have made as many dumplings as you want.
FINALLY... WE COOK THE DUMPLINGS
Partially fill a 1/8 cup measure with water
Get a Wok or Frying pan that has a cover
Pour a light coating of vegetable oil (about 1/16" deep) into your Wok, roll it all around to coat the bottom of the pan and turn the heat to Medium High
When the oil starts to look swirly. If it starts smoking, turn the heat down. Then place one layer of dumplings into the hot wok so that one side of each one is firmly on the pan.
Cook for about a minute or so, then lift one of the dumplings to check if it is Browned and Crispy on the bottom.
When one side is nicely browned, pour the water into the pan and quickly cover it to let the steam finish cooking the sausage filling... Approximately 2 minutes should do it, then remove the dumplings and repeat the process until you have cooked as many dumplings as you want.
Now you are ready at last, to serve your first batch of Pan-Fried-Peking-Pot-Sticker-Jiaozi or whatever you want to call them.
But don't forget to dip them in my kicked-up Bob's Diner Dumpling Sauce
Until the Next Time ... So Long from Bob's Diner
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