International Dumpling Incident

One of the things I like most about food is its link to culture and society.  I believe that if you learn about the food a population eats, you will get close to the heart of them.  Dumplings are no exception, which makes them a wonderful choice for this month’s International Incident Party since are known to cooks of many cultures and found in many cuisines.

Larousse Gastronomique tells us that a dumpling is..

“… A ball of dough, originally savoury and served as an accompaniment to meat or as a dessert…A simple, satisfying food, dumplings were boiled and served to extend small amounts of meat. Originally made by shaping small portions from a batch of bread dough before specific mixtures were developed using flour, cereals, pulses, stale bread, potatoes or cheese, sometimes with a raising agent added or enriched with fat in the form of suet, were developed. Local ingredients and method are used across Europe to make a variety of large or small dumplings, plain or flavoured with herbs, vegetables, spices or other ingredients…Dumplings are closely related to pasta. Italian gnocchi are good examples of small dumplings usually grouped with pasta and the spatzle of German and Austria, made from batter simmered until set in finger noodles, also hover between the two descriptions. Polish plain or filled dumplings are also very similar to gnocchi or filled pasta…The name dumpling is also used for Oriental specialties, such as the small filled dumplings of Chinese cookery, related more closely to pasta than European-style dumplings.”

Despite the variations and options available to me, I knew that I would be making Asian dumplings for the International Dumpling Incident Party.  Chinese records of dumplings go as far back as the Sung dynasty (AD 960-1279) but you could say that somethings never change as at that time they were sold from street stalls much the same way as snacks are in China today.  Well, no stall in my street I am afraid, because quite frankly, I don’t want to share.

I briefly considered making the wonton skins and dumpling wrappers that I was going to need for the tiny tasty morsels I was going to make, and then said, nah, not this time.

I have gone for three different fillings using two types of wrapper.  The quantities for the fillings are estimates – I didn’t measure anything (as usual)!  Go with what looks right.  Or make one, cook it, taste then then adjust the filling to suit.

Pork, cabbage & shiitake mushroom

300gm pork mince
1 cup finely shredded cabbage, steamed then finely chopped
4 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked, stems removed then finely chopped
½ clove garlic finely chopped
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine

Put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
Take a square wonton wrapper and put a teaspoon of filling in the centre.
Using your finger brush a little water on two adjoining side of the wonton wrapper.
Fold the wrapper over to form a triangle and press down firmly to ensure all the air is out of the dumpling.
Sit the dumpling down and using your fingers pleat the wonton wrapper up and down the remaining two sides of the triangle.

Repeat with the remaining filling.
Keep your wonton wrappers and newly made dumplings under a damp cloth until you are ready to cook them.

Prawn, chilli & ginger

20 medium prawns, shelled, deveined and chopped coarsely
50gm pork mince
1 cm fresh ginger, grated
1 birds eye chilli finely chopped
1 tablespoon soy sauce
½ tablespoon rice wine

Put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
Take a round gyoza skin and sit in in the palm of your hand.
Put a generous spoonful of mixture in the centre and bring up the sides.
Tap the dumpling on the bench to flatten the bottom.
Continue to do this and to press the sides evenly onto the mixture so that the dumpling is firm and will not come apart when cooked.

Repeat with the remaining filling.  Decorate the top of each dumpling with a fine slice of chilli and cover until you are ready to cook

Chicken, bamboo shoot & spinach

150gm chicken, minced in food processor until smooth
50gm pork mince
1 cup spinach, lightly steamed, then finely chopped
½ clove garlic finely chopped
½ tablespoon rice wine
1 tablespoon soy sauce
½ teaspoon sesame oil
Garlic chives, very quickly blanched

Put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
Take a round gyoza skin and sit in the palm of your hand
Put a scant teaspoon of filling in the centre of the skin and bring the side up to the middle so that you can pinch them in together.

If there is too much filling and this is making it hard the close the dumpling, remove some.
Once the dumpling is nice and firm and the sides all together, tie a chive around the bunched top of the dumpling.

You need to be really careful and gentle with this part so that you don’t break the chives.

Continue until all the filling is used, ensuring the assembled dumplings are kept under a damp cloth.

To cook these little treats you can boil, fry or – as I prefer, steam.

Put some saucepans about a third full of water on to boil.

Place your dumpling in steamer baskets.

Couple of tips here – don’t overcrowd, because they will be difficult to remove and remember to line the steamer so that they don’t stick.

To prevent sticking you can use lettuce, cabbage leaves or baking paper with a few holes punched in to allow for even distribution of steam.

Turn the water down to just more than a simmer, put the steamers over the top and wait for five minutes.  They should be ready to go then.

I served them with a dipping sauce made from 5 tablespoons light soy, 1 finely chopped chilli, 1 tablespoon rice wine and a few drops of sesame oil.

They were mighty fine dumplings if I do say so myself.  The Beloved must have agreed if the way he hoovered them up is anything to go by!

Don’t forget to check out all the other International Dumpling Incidents and see what delectables the rest of the crew have created.

Penny – Jeroxie (Addictive & Consuming)Tang Yuan
Christine – Christine’s RecipesFried wontons with sweet & sour sauce
Mardi – Eat, Live, Travel, WriteIt’s my birthday and you’re invited
Trix – Tasty TrixSpinat knödel mit gorgonzola sauce
Conor – Hold the BeefZwetschkenknödel
Shirley – Enriching your kidPaneer-Malai Kofta
Natasha – 5 Star FoodiePelmeni
Anges – Off the sporkShanghai soup dumplings
Joanne – Second HelpingDumplings three ways
Ahn – A food Lover’s JourneyPan-fried savoury ’sticky’ dumplings
Cherry – Sweet Cherry PieFilipino Dumpling Soup or Pancit Molo
Tracey – Tangled NoodleThe Long and Winding Dumpling Road
Evelyne – Cheap Ethnic EatzMomos
Emma – Cake Mistress – Lovely Lumps: Golden Syrup Dumplings
Mark – Cafe CampanaButterscotch Apple Dumplings
Cool Lassi(e) – Pan Gravy Kadai CurryDeep Fried Lentil Dumpling in Yogurt Sauce
Ozoz – Kitchen ButterflyJiaozi
Sharlene – Wheels and Lollipop
Ms Baklover – Footscray Food BlogPork wontons soup
Monkylicious – Adventures of food kind
Pamela – My Man’s BellyOne Fish Two Fish Red Fish Dumpling Fish
Casey – Eating, Gardening & Living in BulgariDim sum with dipping sauce

As you can see. there are quite a few of us for this month’s party, including a number celebrating birthdays – Happy Birthday and delicious dumplings to all of you who are!

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