Asian Chicken Dumplings

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I think that, like me, most people have an unusually deep and abiding love for foods that are bite sized. This could mean a few little bites if you are dainty and delicate like my fashion designer sister, or eaten whole, “Homer Simpson” style  if you are like my husband and just want to get it in there already. kungfupanda2_clipdumplingwarrior_sml

I fall somewhere in between so can luckily maintain some small shred of decorum assuming I’m not eating because I’m unhappy because I eat. Eating should make us happy, and bring us to places we have never been before, and these wonderful little guys really do that for me.

The really cool thing about them is that you can get the whole family in on the action, and trust me you are going to want to because these things take teamwork.  That isn’t to say that you can’t make them on your own, but honestly, if you grind the meat, make the sauce, and make the dough all by yourself, why should you share? I should warn you now that these dumplings are so good that I have been held at chopstick-point over the last one. The good news is, this recipe makes so many of these little guys that it wont even come to that. That is if there’s only 2 of you. Otherwise, good luck.

war

Ya see? 🙂 6 each, and fight to the death over the last one.

Just kidding, the recipe actually makes 36 so you can serve 6 people, but this is a good way to fake out the family. We were cooking for two people, so we actually ended up freezing almost half of these for next time, which is awesome, because you don’t want to have to put in this much effort every single time you want a dumpling… am I right? I find that 7 just about makes a meal for me, with G leaning more towards the 10-12 mark. I’d say they keep in the freezer for up to 3 months if you pack them properly, between sheets of baking paper, evenly spaced, and over a thick dusting of flour.

Now, I like to steam mine, and G got me this fantastic steamer from my favorite store in Jerusalem. If you don’t have a steamer, you can pan sear then boil them, or fry them, as you like, there is almost no wrong way to cook a dumpling.  My advice, if you plan to do this as often as we do, get a steamer. It’s really worth it.

Traditionally these little guys are made with pork, but I make them with chicken and they are really quite wonderful. You should use ground chicken from the store, but I’m super forgetful and always just buy the breasts so I had to chop my own meat the last few times I made these. Talk about a labor of LOVE. I don’t suggest you do the same, unless you have someone who will really appreciate the effort when all is said and done.

So here they are; I wish you luck my fellow food warriors, I hope you enjoy these as much as we do 🙂

dumplings2

Ingredients: for 4-6 servings

For Filling: (modified from “Asian”, 2003 Barnes and Noble books)

  • 1 1/4 pound ground chicken breast
  • 2 cups chopped cabbage, bok choy, or bean sprouts
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger (don’t go overboard)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil

For Dough: (makes 36 dumplings)

  • 2 1/4 cups plain flour
  • 1 cup slightly warm water (1/3 cup boiling water + 2/3 cup room temperature water)
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For Dipping Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon sweet chili sauce (or hot chili sauce and 1 teaspoon light brown sugar)
  • 1 large chopped garlic clove
  • 4 chopped scallions
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar or mirin

Method:

1) Make dough: I got the dough recipe here.  Add salt and oil to the warm water. Stir till the salt has dissolved completely. In a deep bowl, pour in plain flour. Add the warm water mixture slowly and stir. Add a little water at a time so that you can judge how wet or dry the dough is. Stop when it looks slightly sticky. Just continue stirring (or using your hands when it gets too sticky) till the dough comes together in a large, clumpy ball. As long as most of the dough clumps together, it’s time to stop. Don’t worry that it looks lumpy and dry. Seal the bowl with cling wrap and allow to relax for about 10 – 15 minutes.

(You can mix together the filling ingredients now, just blanch the bok choy in boiling water for 10 seconds and drain before adding to the rest)

2) Now, start kneading. You will notice that the dough no longer looks as lumpy and dry. As you knead, it will become elastic and shiny. If you find that it’s too dry, add a little more warm water; if it’s too wet, add a little more flour. Throw the dough onto your work surface in between kneads to improve the structure. Really slam it down, and enjoy the satisfying THWACK noise that it makes as you smack it silly.  Those of you who have made breads by hand will be familiar with this routine.

3) The dough is ready to be rolled into wrappers as soon as it is smooth and pliable.

making the wrappers

4) This is the tricky part. Pinch off 36 little dough balls, about the size of a Godiva truffle, no bigger. Make sure they are all even. Now, smoosh them down until they are about the size of a silver dollar. G did this part, then handed them off to me and I went around the edges flattening them out more. You want them to be thinner on the edges where the dough will all come together, and thicker in the middle where the filling will sit. Once the edges are all flattened out, have your assistant spoon  1 1/2 tablespoons into each wrapper as you hold it out like a square.

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Don’t let the filling touch the sides, if it gets wet it won’t stick to itself so you have to be really careful here. Have the person in the house with the most nimble fingers do this part.  Now carefully bring together 2 opposite diagonal corners and seal them, then bring together the other two. you should end up with a cute little ball/purse looking shape. if there are openings, pinch them shut and bring them up to the top with the other corners.

Breathe, wipe your brow, and repeat 35 more times, spacing them a few inches apart. 🙂 TEAMWORK!

dumplings spaced

It’s a really good idea to flour a piece of baking paper to lay them on while you work, otherwise they might stick to the surface and then they will rip when you pick them up.

Once they are all done, you can cook them, 14 at a time. I lined my steamer with cabbage leaves so that they wouldn’t stick…

2013-01-17 21.47.24Getting ready to steam their little butts off

you can also use lettuce but I like how the cabbage holds its form and doesn’t bleed flavor or color onto the dumplings. The steamer goes over a wok or pan of boiling water, like so:

steamer

Again, you can pan sear them for that lovely brown color for 2-3 minutes then boil or steam for 5-7 minutes, or just deep fry them, but I really like this method where you just steam them, and it’s a bit healthier. Steaming for 8-10 minutes is more than enough, make the dipping sauce while they cook, then its time to EAT!

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