Steamed Dumplings - © eat.tanspace.com

COVID-19 Lock Down Cooking Fun: Asian Dumplings!

There’s no more iconic symbol of Asian food than Dim Sum Dumplings. At Chinese New Years, the entire family traditionally gets together to make the dumplings, which all must partake of to ensure good fortune and happiness in the coming year. What better project to inspire hope in the depths of the lock down?

Family Dumpling Bee - © china.org.cnHonour the ancient Asian tradition and get the whole family involved in a
Dumpling-making ‘bee’. It’s a great family activity and will
help ensure good fortune in the coming year!

We’re going to concentrate our attention on making traditional Dumpling Wrappers, because you can stuff the little darlin’s with just about anything you want to.

What you need

250g / 2 cups All Purpose Flour
125-130ml / 0.5 cup Cold Water

Yup! It takes just two ingredients. If you haven’t guessed already, its the technique that’s the most important aspect of producing authenjtic Wrappers.

A note on Flour: Some recipes say to seek out special Asian Dumpling Flour for best results. That’s not necessary. The important thing is to use Flour with medium Gluten content. Regular All Purpose Flour will work just fine.

Some tips for softer Wappers: According to redhousespice.com, you can easily adjust the texture of your Dumpling wrappers. For more-delicate, stretchier texture, use the Hot Water Method outlined at that website. Or replace about 1/4 of the Flour with Corn Starch. Just be sure the Starch and the Flour are thoroughly blended before you add any Water. Sift with a fine sieve to obtain the optimum blend.

What you do

Mixing up the Dough:

The original recipe says to measure out the Flour into a large mixing bowl using a dry-measure measuring cup and the scoop-and-level technique; do not pack or otherwise compress the flour.

Tip: If you keep a jug of cold Water in the fridge for drinking, use that rather than plain Tap Water. Water straight out of the tap is never as cold as fridge Water. And if you use a filter jug for your fridge Water, all the better.

The traditional method says to add the Water to the Flour mixing with a pair of Chopsticks. A fork or the handle end of a large wooden spoon will do fine.

When all the Flour has been moistened, turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand until the Dough has a rough surface appearance. You can also just knead the Dough in the bowl if you want to restrain the loose Flour mess.

Let the Dough rest at room temperature (covered) for 10-15 minutes. This is important!

Then knead the Dough again until the Dough Ball evolves a smooth surface.

Now, let the Dough rest (covered) again for at least 30 min. The longer you rest it at this stage, the softer and more pliable it becomes.

Forming the Wrappers:

Roll the dough into a ‘rope’ 1 in. / 2.5 cm in diameter.

Cut pieces from the rope about 1 in. / 2.5 cm long.

Flatten each lump in the palm of one hand using the thumb of the other.

Roll out into thin wrappers 2.5 in. to 3 in. / 6.5 cm to 7.5 cm in diameter. Roll out only as many Wrappers at a time as you can fill in 2 – 3 minutes. Otherwise, they will dry out and become stiff.

Always cover the rope and Dough lumps to avoid them drying out.

Tip: You can make a whole batch of Wrappers and freeze them in meal-sized batches for your future convenience.

Filling the Dumplings:

Tips: Dumpling Fillings start raw. All ingredients are usually minced.

The relatively small amount of Filling used per Dumpling will cook through just fine whether you Pan Fry or Steam them. The Wrapper will trap steam inside the Dumplings assuring that the Filling doesn’t burn or dry out.

Use 1 level tbsp. of Filling per Dumpling to allow you a margin to close the Dough envelope all around the edge.

Hand-roll the Filling into an oblong ‘lozenge’.

Place the lozenge on one half of the wrapper and fold the other side of the Wrapper over.

Crimp the two sides of the Wrapper to close, adding a few drops of Water if necessary to make the mating surfaces a little sticky so they’ll seal tight.

Set the finished Dumplings aside under a cover so they don’t dry out.

What to fill your Dumplings with?

The simple answer is: “Just about anything you can imagine.”

But the following are traditional fillings whose flavours you’ll recognise if you’re already a fan of Dim Sum:

  • Pork
  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Shrimp
  • Leeks
  • Scallions (Green Onions)
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Chinese Cabbage
  • Broccoli, Corn Kernels and other Vegetables
  • Traditional Asian Spice Blends

Of course, you can mix the above ingredients to make pleasing, balanced flavours and textures. Feel free to experiment. Start your own family Dumpling traditions!

Cooking your Dumplings

Steam in a classic Asian Steamer for about 30 minutes to ensure the Wrappers are cooked to a tender, toothsome softness and the Fillings are cooked through.

OR

Fry in a medium hot pan in Corn, Peanut or Sesame Oil, until all sides of the Dumplings are golden brown. Cook the Dumplings in small batches which allow the individual Dumplings not to touch while cooking. Place the cooked Dumplings in an oven-safe dish at 170 F until all the Dumplings are done.

Serve piping hot with the Premium Light Soy Sauce, Pepper Oil, and Sesame Oil for dipping. And don’t be afraid to create your own Dipping Sauces! Peanut and Tamarind flavours come instantly to mind…

And remember the Asian tradition…

Making Dumplings is traditionally a family affair with all members contributing. Kids can mix up fillings. Older kids can Close Dumplings. Even older kids and adults can form Filling lozenges and roll out Wrappers. You can take charge of mixing up the Dough and timing the rests, and mincing and blending the Fillings. Let some strong, young teen or college-age kid do the kneading.

And what better time to make a big batch of Asian Dumplings for freezing than now, when everyone is home and you have all the time in the world!

~ Maggie J.

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