I finally attempted dumplings. I love these little guys, and I know plenty of people who make them, but this is my first time. I felt like such a fop for my poor effort at Chinese New Year that I finally made the jump.
I used a filling recipe from Mai Leung’s Dim Sum and Other Chinese Street Food. This was a gift from my brother who gets to prowl NYC’s Chinatown and used book shops. His cookbook gifts are always period or cultural prizes, and this one’s no exception. Published in 1979, it’s a wonderful collection of food from the street carts, dim sum and noodle houses. It’s so old she uses ‘old’ pinyin, or English spelling for many of the words. For example, Beijing is Peking, and jaozi (dumplings) are chiaotse. I had to think about it for a moment to realize that ‘Chinese celery cabbage’ is Napa or bok choy. Everything I’ve tried out of this book has been easy and delicious. Pick up a copy if you can find it.
In my corner of the world, we are woefully short of all dim sum, noodle houses and street food (too cold and foggy) so I’m left to make friends with people who can make it, or learn to do it myself. Although, for people in the area, take note that Sampan’s on the West Side becomes a dim sum restaurant on weekends! It’s a little pricey- but it’s good, and it’s there!
Mai Leung of course makes everything from scratch, but I bought my wrappers. Everyone I know who makes dumplings says the wrappers are so cheap and of good quality, it’s not worth it to make your own. For less than two dollars I acquired over 200 thin wrappers at Linja’s in the City Market. Ming’s also has a great variety.
I was worried I wouldn’t be able to form them properly, but it’s just as they look: add filling, fold in half, and then pleat them and squeeze together with your fingers. It’s easier then making ravioli!
Here is the Mai Leung filling recipe I used:
Chiaotse Basic Filling I
1 pound ground pork
1 head bok choy (or napa); separate leaves and steam for about 10 min. or until tender. Mince.
1/3 C chopped scallions
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp sugar
2 Tbsp black soya sauce
1 Tbsp rice wine
1. Mix it all up (hands work best).
2. Fill each wrapper with about a tablespoon of filling. Fold it in half, and pleat one side against the other side, working from the outside to the middle. Pinch closed.
3. Oil a steamer tray and place over steaming water. Place the dumplings inside, cover and steam for about 12 mins.
4. Serve hot, with a dip.
Ginger Soy Vinegar Dip
Mix: slices of fresh ginger, ¼ C Chinese red vinegar, and 2 Tbsp black soya sauce.