Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Diddle Diddle Dumpling
What fun! This month's Daring Cook challenge was Chinese dumplings. I make dumplings (potstickers) periodically, but I decided this was my chance to try a version that sounded so good but took a little too much time for a routine dinner.
I made Shanghai soup dumplings. These have the soup inside the dumpling, along with the regular filling. I made chicken broth by simmering chicken backs and necks in water, along with seasonings (green onions, ginger, garlic, soy). When the chicken was falling off the bone (2-3 hours), I strained the soup, returned it to the heat and boiled it until it reduced to about 3 cups. I added seasonings and gelatin, and, using a gravy separator to remove the fat, poured the mixture into a 9x13 glass baking dish, covered it and refrigerated it overnight. The next day I cut the chicken gelatin or aspic into small cubes and blended it with my ground pork/shrimp filling.
Since the challenging part of this challenge was making the dumpling wrappers, I followed the instructions for using the food processor - flour and warm water. Concrete! Not sure what I did wrong. So I switched to the Chinese mother method and hand-mixed the flour and warm water. Much better result. I let the dough sit for quite a while and then began the lengthy and somewhat arduous process of rolling out the little wrappers, filling them and pleating them.
Since the aspic would be melting when the dumplings were steamed, I pleated them into little purses rather than the traditional shape. I found it a little challenging to make sure all the seams were sealed tightly - didn't want to lose any of the broth to leaking. I had way more filling than dough but decided to use commercial wrappers for the leftover filling. NOTE: All pictures are dumplings made with the homemade dough!
I steamed the dumplings for about 10 minutes. Those that didn't leak (some dough stuck to other dumplings and tore) were great - a little burst of chicken-y hotness mingled with the pork/shrimp filling. And even without the soup, the potstickers were pretty tasty.
I also made some other little nibbles: naked shrimp/chive dumplings and ginger chicken and my friend Sarah provided a lovely platter of tomatoes, mango and avocado slices, sprinkled with seasonings. We had sriracha, red pepper flake sauce and mango citrus sauce for dipping. I liked the mango with the dumplings - a nice tangy contrast.
I had enough to freeze some uncooked dumplings for a dinner in the future. I would do this again, although having at least two days to pull it together is probably the best plan. I think I might also chill the soup before it becomes aspic to more thoroughly remove the fat. I got most of it with the gravy separator, but had to gently scrape some off the top of the aspic before I cut it up.
I doubt I will seek a new career as a dumpling maker, but this was a pretty good outcome for this challenge.
PS - After making and not loving the ricotta gnocchi last month, I had a chance to eat them in a real restaurant. We were in Portland, OR for a long weekend and stopped in at a venerable place that has been around for years and gotten excellent ratings. There they were: ricotta gnocchi, served with duck. I ordered, I ate and frankly, they were no more impressive than mine and still not something I was enthusiastic about. Maybe I'm just not a gnocchi person.