Monday, June 29, 2015

Pork and Chive Dumplings

Pork dumplings are classic appetizers on so many Asian menus, whether they are Japanese gyoza or Chinese jiaozi. They can easily be pan-fried, deep-fried, steamed, or boiled with excellent results. The pork filling itself can range based on the cuisine and the cook. Cabbage and/or chives often compliment ground pork along with soy sauce and minced ginger.

I've shared some pork and cabbage dumplings in the past, so today I've decided to share a recipe for pork and chive dumplings. The chives here come in the form of Chinese chives (or garlic chives). If you can't find these, use scallions, although the flavor won't be quite the same. It's worth seeking out the real deal to make these morsels authentic.

The filling is a cinch to make, and once you get the dough technique down, these dumplings come together quite efficiently. You can use store-bought wrappers as well, but I always find the quality to be inferior, and quite frankly they can be a pain to pleat since the dough doesn't stick to itself the way fresh dough does. Even wetting the wrapper doesn't solve this problem, so I do highly encourage you to try making your own wrappers from scratch. They're easier than they look!

Pan-fried dumplings are always my favorite, since they boast the most complex texture: a little crunchy, a little chewy, absolute perfection. Steaming or boiling will be your healthiest option. I find that even using traditional ground pork (not the super fatty kind), my dumplings are still very juicy. Sometimes the juice even explodes a bit when I bite into these bad boys, so have a napkin at the ready :)

In the recipe below, I share a couple of different pleating techniques for dumpling making called "pleated crescents" and "pea pods." These terms come from Andrea Nguyen's Asian Dumplings as does the basic dough recipe.

I'm always trying out some variations so I did a slight tweak to the crescent shape for my pork and chive dumplings. I simply pinched the dumpling together in the center, and then made a couple pleats on either side in opposite directions towards the middle.

I think they turned out pretty cute, if I may say so myself. Although a beautiful-looking dumpling is appetizing to the eyes, at the end of the day flavor is paramount, and I'm pleased to report that these classic dumplings definitely hit the mark.

Between this recipe and the pork and cabbage ones I've shared previously, you have two wonderful options for classic pork dumplings that would please any dumpling lover!

I've also shared many other dumpling recipes over the years. My Chinese New Year post from this past February contains links and photos to the others, and I do occasionally update this post to keep it current with my more recently added contributions, so please check it out if you're interested in expanding your dumpling making outside the tasty classics!

Pork and Chive Dumplings
Makes 32 dumplings, serving 4 as a main course, or 6 to 8 as a snack or starter
(Dough and assembly from Asian Dumplings)

2/3 pound ground pork
2/3 cup chopped Chinese chives (aka garlic chives)
2 tablespoons light (regular) soy sauce (I prefer low-sodium)
2 tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh ginger
3/4 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

10 ounces (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
About 3/4 cup just-boiled water (boil water, then let it sit for a minute off the heat before measuring)

Tangy Soy Dipping Sauce:
1/3 cup light (regular) soy sauce (I prefer low-sodium)
2 1/2 tablespoons unseasoned rice, Chinkiang, or balsamic vinegar
1/8 teaspoon sugar (optional)
1 tablespoon finely shredded ginger or 2 tsp. finely minced garlic (optional)

Canola or peanut oil, if pan-frying

To make the filling, mix the pork, chives, soy sauce, wine, ginger, sugar, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl until well-combined. To develop the flavors, cover with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes. You should have about 2 cups of filling. The filling can be prepared 1 day ahead and refrigerated. Bring it to room temperature before assembling the dumplings.

To make the dough, place a large mixing bowl over a damp paper towel on your work surface, to keep in place while mixing. Add the flour and make a well. Use a wooden spoon to mix the flour while you add the water in a steady stream. Mix together until you have a lot of lumpy bits, then knead the hot dough in the bowl until the dough comes together. Add water by the teaspoon if the dough does not come together.

Continue kneading the dough on a lightly floured surface (only flour if necessary, and do so sparingly) for a couple more minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic (my mixing bowl was very large so I finished kneading directly in the bowl and it was just fine). The dough should bounce back when pressed with your finger, but leave a light impression of your finger. Place dough in a zip-top bag, seal tightly, pressing out excess air, and set aside at room temperature for 15 minutes up to 2 hours. The dough will steam up the bag and soften. After resting, the dough can be used right away, or refrigerated overnight and returned to room temperature before using.

To make the dipping sauce, combine the soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar and stir to dissolve. Taste and adjust flavors to your liking for a tart-savory balance. The sauce can be prepared several hours in advance up to this point. Right before serving, add the ginger or garlic.

To assemble the dumplings, remove the dough from the bag, turning the bag inside out if the dough is sticky. Put the dough on a lightly floured surface and cut it in quarters. Put half back in the bag, squeezing out the air and sealing it closed to prevent drying.

Roll the dough into a 1-inch-thick log and cut into 8 pieces (cut in half, then cut each half in half, and so on to create pieces that are even in size. The tapered end pieces should be cut slightly larger). If your pieces are oval, stand them on one of the cut ends and gently squeeze with your fingers to make them round, like a scallop. Take each piece of dough and press each cut end in flour, lightly pressing the dough to about 1/4 inch thick and set aside.

Next, flatten each dough disk into a thin circle, about 1/8 inch thick, either with a tortilla press (lined with plastic wrap), or with a heavy flat-bottomed object like a frying pan (also lined with plastic). Alternatively, use a dowel (which is a good lightweight rolling pin alternative for fast and flexible dumpling making) to lightly roll out each disc into an 1/8 inch thick circle.

To finish the wrappers, place wrappers one at a time on your work surface, and flour only if sticky. Imagine a quarter-size circle in the center of the dough. This is what the Chinese call the "belly" of the wrapper. You want to create a wrapper that is larger than its current size, but still retaining a thick "belly" in the center. This ensures an even distribution of dough when the dumpling is sealed. Use the rolling pin to apply pressure to the outer 1/2-to-3/4-inch border of the wrapper. Roll the rolling pin in short downward strokes with one hand while the other hand turns the wrapper in the opposite direction. Aim for wrappers that are about 3 1/4 inches in diameter. When a batch of wrappers is formed, fill them before making wrappers out of the other portions of dough.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (if planning to refrigerate dumplings for several hours, also dust with flour to prevent sticking).  Hold a wrapper in a slightly cupped hand and scoop about 1 tablespoon of filling slightly off-center toward the upper half of the wrapper, pressing and shaping it into a flat mound and keeping a 1/2-to-3/4-inch border on all sides.

To make "pleated crescent" shapes, make the first pinch between index finger and thumb, then fold over the front edge to form the first pleat and press it against the back edge. Continue pleating the dough in this fashion until making the final pleat and then settle the dumpling on a work surface and press the edges to seal well.

Alternatively, to make "pea pod" shapes, fold the edge of the wrapper closest to you to meet the top edge and pinch together to seal well (you can stop here at the "half moon" shape, especially if you plan on boiling these). Place on your work surface and press gently to steady the dumpling and make it sit flat. Fold the sealed edges of the dumpling to make a series of pleats from one end to the other.

Place finished dumplings on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and dough, spacing out dumplings about 1/2 inch apart. Keep the finished dumplings covered with a dry kitchen towel.

When all the dumplings are assembled, they can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for several hours and can be cooked straight from the refrigerator. For longer storage, freeze them on their baking sheet until hard (about 1 hour), transfer to a zip-top freezer bag, pressing out excess air before sealing, and frozen for up to 1 month. To cook after freezing, partially thaw, using your finger to smooth over any cracks that may have formed during freezing, before cooking.

To boil the dumplings, half-fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil over high heat (I like to salt the water, but it's not necessary). Add half the dumplings, gently dropped each one into the water. Nudge them apart with a wooden spoon to keep them from sticking together or to the bottom of the pot. Return the water to a simmer and then lower the heat to maintain a simmer and gently cook the dumplings for about 8 minutes, or until they float to the surface, look glossy, and are puffed up and a tad translucent. Use a slotted spoon or skimmer to scoop the dumplings from the pot, a few at a time, pausing the spoon's motion over the pot to allow excess water to drip back down before putting the dumplpings on a serving plate. Cover the plate with a large inverted bowl to keep the dumplings warm. Return the water to a boil and cook the remaining dumplings. When done, return the first batch to the hot water to reheat for a minute or two. There is no need to reboil.

To steam the dumplings, place the dumplings into a bamboo steamer lined with a perforated parchment circle or cabbage leaves (to keep the dumplings from sticking to the steamer) steam over boiling water for for about 8 minutes, or until slightly puffed and somewhat translucent. Remove the trays and place each atop a serving plate.

To pan-fry the dumplings, use a medium or large nonstick skillet (or cook two batches at the same time using two pans). Heat the skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 1/2 tablespoons oil for a medium skillet and 2 tablespoons for a large one. Place the dumplings 1 at a time, sealed edges up, in a winding circle pattern. The dumplings can touch. Medium skillets will generally fit 12 to 14 dumplings, large skillets will fit 16 to 18 dumplings. Fry the dumplings for 1 to 2 minutes until they are golden or light brown on the bottom.

Holding the lid close to the skillet to lessen splatter, use a measuring cup to add water to a depth of roughly 1/4 inch (about 1/3 cup water). The water will immediately sputter and boil vigorously, Cover with a lid or aluminum foil, lower the heat to medium, and let the water bubble away for 8 to 10 minutes, until it is mostly gone. When you hear sizzling noises, remove the lid as most of the water is now gone. Let the dumplings fry for another 1 or 2 minutes, or until the bottoms are brown and crisp. Turn off the heat and wait until the sizzling stops before using a spatula to transfer dumplings to a serving plate. Display them with their bottoms facing up so they remain crisp.

Serve with the dipping sauce in a communal bowl or in individual dipping sauce dishes.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...