Cats, Cooking, and Life!

Pork Dumplings


Dumplings and dipping sauce

Pork dumplings, or pot stickers as they're sometimes called, are one of the main staples of some Chinese restaurants. For good reason, as well-made and well-cooked dumplings are such a treat.

The Wonder Woman introduced me to her homemade dumplings early in our relationship and I've learned to wrap them from her. There's definitely a knack to it. It took me several sessions to get good at it, and at first the initial few dumplings were kind of ugly and sometimes came apart during cooking. Each time, though, I slipped into the groove faster and faster.

We've since tried two vegetarian variations on the fillings. We'll cover those in later postings. Pork is the most popular so we'll start there.

We sometimes make our own dumpling wrappers but not this time. That will be a topic for a future post. They taste better but require much more work. But today, here's how to work with store-bought wrappers.

When buying dumpling wrappers, try to get as fresh as possible. We always select ones that are manufactured in our city, as they've had shorter travel from factory to store shelf. We are lucky in that respect. You may not be as lucky, so just get the freshest you can.


The Filling


Chopping the napa cabbage

  • 250 g ground pork (1/2 lb)
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced finely or crushed
  • 1 ginger, size of ping pong ball or to taste, finely grated
  • 6 napa cabbage leaves, chopped into small strips, about 2 cm long by 1/2 cm wide. this adds some crunch to the dumplings
  • 5 ml light soya sauce (1 tsp)
  • 2 ml sugar (1/2 tsp)
  • 1 ml salt (1/3 tsp)
  • fresh-ground black pepper


Ground pork

Mix everything together in a bowl.

Ready to wrap


Prepare to assemble

Get the bowl of filling, a small bowl of cold water, a package of wrappers and a large tray like a cookie sheet lined with wax paper for the finished dumplings. Keep the wrapper package closed until the last minute, and don't take out more than a few wrappers at a time. Get a damp, clean kitchen towel or paper towels to cover the wrapped dumplings to prevent them from drying out.


Assembly

Take a wrapper. There is usually one side of the wrapper that has more flour than the other. Try to wrap it so the flour side is facing out. That way, it forms a bit of a crust when fried to makes the dumpling crunchier.


video

Place a spoonful of filling on to the center of the wrapper. Do not overfill or the wrapper will come open when cooking. Dip a finger in the water and rub it around the outside of the wrapper to moisten. Fold the wrapper in half to seal into a half-moon shape. To be extra fancy, pleat one edge as demonstrated in the video. It's important to seal the wrapper to prevent it from falling apart when cooking.

Place the wrapper on the tray. They can be frozen at this point or are ready for cooking.


Ready to cook or freeze

For freezing, put them on a tray lined with wax paper and pop them in the freezer. After a day, remove the dumplings from the tray and put them into an airtight plastic freezer bag.  When cooking, no need to defrost, just go straight into the frying pan. Increase the steaming phase by a few minutes.


Dipping sauce 1

  • ginger, finely julienned
  • red vinegar

Place some julienned ginger in a small bowl and cover with red vinegar.

Ginger and red vinegar

Dipping sauce 2

  • light soya sauce
  • sesame seed oil

Simply pour a small amount of light soya sauce into a small bowl and serve with the dumplings.


Fry the dumplings

Heat a fry pan over medium heat. Add about a 15 ml (1 tbsp) of peanut oil. Place the dumplings into the pan. With your fingers, move the dumplings a bit to make sure they don't stick to the pan. Periodically check the bottom to make sure it browns nicely.


Placing the dumplings in the pan


Once the dumplings are brown on the bottom, pour about 75 ml (1/4 c) of water into the pan. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to medium low and let steam for about 10 minutes.


Steaming

After 10 minutes, remove the cover from the frypan and cook an additional 5 minutes until the dumplings are dry once again. Move the dumplings from time to time to keep them from sticking too badly. (There's a reason they're called pot stickers!)


Nicely browned


Serve

Arrange on a plate and serve with dipping sauce. Provide your favourite hot sauce for those who like them spicy!
























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