Rita: The Kosher Chick

Restrictions have nothing on her.

Dumpling Woman

Posted: April 28, 2010 | Author: Rita | Filed under: Rita | Tags: , | 3 Comments »

For the past week and a half I’ve been serving jury duty in the City Hall area of Lower Manhattan. It could have been worse. Though it’s busy at work for me at the moment and despite waiting around the majority of the time, in a few ways it was a very pleasant experience. I got to see the legal system in action, though it’s far less exciting than Law and Order; I performed my civic duty; but best of all is that the courthouse is a block away from Chinatown!

That’s right. Dim sum and dumplings for lunch. Mmm.

Not only was I able to frequent a few new places I’ve been meaning to try, it was also really cheap. Like, $2 for eight veggie dumplings cheap.

Dumplings are basically the perfect and one of the most versatile meals. Many cultures have their own variation on it, like pierogies (Polish), kreplach (Eastern European Jewish), ravioli or gnocchi (Italian), gyoza (Japanese), etc. Dough stuffed with either sweets or savories! You can’t go wrong no matter what you do. Many dumpling houses or restaurants will sell theirs frozen in addition to fresh, so you can take them home and cook them yourself, but I’m sure you can make it yourself from scratch. That’s why you’re reading this, right?

Since I’ve been working overtime to make up for my lost hours in the jury box, please forgive me this time around for not creating my own recipe, but enjoy this one from Chow:

Steamed Vegetable Dumplings (Zhēngjiǎo) Recipe

TIME/SERVINGS

Makes: Makes 32 dumplings, serving 4 as a main course, 6 to 8 as a snack or starter

INGREDIENTS
For the filling:

* 4 cups lightly packed, coarsely chopped spinach (7 to 8 ounces)
* 4 large dried shiitake mushrooms, reconstituted and liquid reserved, stemmed, and chopped (1/2 cup)
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
* 3/4 teaspoon sugar
* 1 1/2 tablespoons light (regular) soy sauce
* 2 tablespoons sesame oil
* 2 tablespoons canola oil
* 1 tablespoon finely minced fresh ginger
* 1/3 cup finely chopped carrot
* 3 ounces brown pressed tofu, finely chopped (2/3 cup total)
* 2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
* 1/2 cup chopped Chinese chives or scallions (white and green parts)

To form and serve:

* 1 pound Basic Dumpling Dough
* 2/3 cup Tangy Soy Dipping Sauce

INSTRUCTIONS

1. To make the filling, put the spinach in a large bowl. Bring a kettle of water to a boil and pour a generous amount over the spinach. Let the spinach wilt for about 30 seconds, drain, rinse with cold water, and drain again. To remove excess moisture, squeeze the spinach in your hands over the sink. When you are done, there should be about 1/2 cup firmly packed spinach.
2. In a bowl, combine 1/4 cup of the reserved mushroom soaking liquid, salt, white pepper, sugar, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Set this flavoring sauce aside.
3. In a wok or large skillet, heat the canola oil over medium heat. Add the ginger and stir-fry for about 30 seconds, until aromatic. Add the spinach, carrot, mushrooms, and pressed tofu. Stir to combine and then pour in the flavoring sauce. At first all the liquid will seem to have been absorbed, but after 2 minutes, there will be a little bubbling liquid in the skillet. At that point, give the cornstarch mixture a final stir and stir it into the filling. When the mixture thickens, turn off the heat and add the Chinese chives. Transfer to a bowl and set aside to cool completely before assembling the dumplings. You should have about 2 cups of filling. (The filling can be prepared 1 day in advance and refrigerated. Bring it to room temperature before assembling the dumplings.)
4. Form 16 wrappers from half of the dough. Aim for wrappers that are about 3 1/4 inches in diameter.
5. Before assembling the dumplings, line steamer trays or a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. (If you are making the dumplings in advance, or freezing them, lightly dust the parchment paper–lined tray with flour to avoid sticking.)
6. To assemble the dumplings, hold a wrapper in a slightly cupped hand. Scoop up about 1 tablespoon of filling with a bamboo dumpling spatula, dinner knife, or fork and position it slightly off-center toward the upper half of the wrapper, pressing and shaping it into a flat mound and keeping about 1/2 to 3/4 inch of wrapper clear on all sides. Then fold, pleat, and press to enclose the filling to create a half-moon, pea pod, big hug, or pleated crescent shape. If you are steaming right away, place the finished dumpling in a steamer tray, sealed side up and 1 inch away from the edge if you are using a metal steamer. Repeat with the other wrappers before forming and filling wrappers from the remaining dough, keeping the finished dumplings covered with a dry kitchen towel as you make the rest. If you don’t have enough space on your steamer trays to steam all the dumplings at once, or if you are not steaming them right away, place the waiting ones on the prepared baking sheet spaced a good 1/2 inch apart.
7. Once all the dumplings are assembled, they can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for several hours; they can be cooked straight from the refrigerator. For longer storage, freeze them on the baking sheet until hard (about 1 hour), transfer them to a zip-top freezer bag, pressing out excess air before sealing, and keep them frozen for up to 1 month; thaw completely on lined steamer trays, using your finger to smooth over any cracks that may have formed during freezing, before steaming.
8. To cook, steam the dumplings over boiling water for about 8 minutes, or until slightly puffed and somewhat translucent. Remove the trays and place each atop a serving plate.
9. Serve immediately with the dipping sauce, either in a communal bowl with a spoon or portioned into individual bowls or dipping sauce dishes. As with all jiǎozi, it is easiest to eat these with chopsticks in one hand and soupspoon or rice bowl in the other, angling the bowl or spoon to catch any drips.


3 Comments on “Dumpling Woman”

  1. 1 Adi said at 6:34 pm on April 28, 2010:

    Om nom freaking NOM. I have NO IDEA where to get vegetarian dumplings, and so I’m psyched about this recipe. You rock! And THANKS jury duty, for inspiring it! ;)

  2. 2 Bakezilla said at 7:50 am on April 29, 2010:

    Yum, yum, yum. Dumplings are so tasty! I used to like escorting clients to court only because I got to eat in Chinatown! The legal system in action, huh?

  3. 3 Alyssa said at 6:48 pm on April 29, 2010:

    This sounds so good!! There is no good chinese food near me, so I’ve been trying to figure out ways to make good substitutes at home. Dumplings are probably my favorite!

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Johanna: The Improviser

Never quite follows the recipe. Doesn't really measure. Tastes with her fingers. Somehow, it always works.

Alyssa: The Triple Threat

Can do it all. And modest to boot.

Bakezilla: We Use Mixers Too

She likes to bake. Actually, baking is the only thing she does. It's a passion.

Rita: The Kosher Chick

Restrictions have nothing on her.