Sunday, September 23, 2012

Homemade Dumplings

Sorry everyone - first an apology for the entries that are long due. I recently got food poisoning (that entry is coming up), which has unfortunately spoilt my appetite and my willingness to talk about food. I've since recovered from that horrible episode, and will be resuming (hopefully) my (daily) entries about food!

So during my weekend back home (now three weekends ago), we had our traditional Dumpling Sunday.

When I was young, we used to make dumplings every single Sunday. I would ask my parents why we can't just go to McDonald's, and they would tell me that when they were little, dumplings were a rare like McDonald's (imagine back then, in a widely un-Westernized communist China).

In my household, we make everything by hand, starting from the chives that are grown in the backyard. Except this weekend, we didn't use chives because my cousin can't eat it. So we used cabbage instead.

Being non-pork eating Muslim, we replaced the usual pork filling with shrimp, a higher cost but definitely worth it. Shrimp is not only pork-free, it also acts as a sticking agent to add some stickiness to the filling. I think the filling is the hardest part, because you have to make sure that it's seasoned right, and there's no way for you to try it, unless you want to eat raw meat.

The only thing we don't make is the thin dumpling cover, which we get from the grocery store.

The rest is pretty easy to make. First you wet the edges of the dumpling cover with water so that it will become sticky after you add in the filling.

Then you add in about a tablespoon of filling in the middle, and fold up the edges, mincing to make folds by pressing together the gap between your thumb and index finger.  

You have to make sure that the whole dumpling is completely sealed, or else it will fall apart during the cooking process.

We ate pretty much most of the dumplings between my mom and dad, my cousin and myself. We make around 50 dumplings in batches. Btw, boiling dumplings is a technique too - you have to make sure you stir in the clockwise direction every so often so that it wouldn't disrupt the cooking and burst the dumpling skin.

The filling was uber delish. Apparently my Mom made another filling with eggs, shrimp and chives, which was really good because you get a dense texture in the dumpling.

Ying-Yang disk of balsamic vinegar and olive oil

A note on the dipping sauce - this can make or break a dumpling. If your dumpling is not good enough stand-alone (like the frozen ones you get from stores), try mixing up a dipping sauce with 1/2 balsamic vinegar and 1/2 olive oil. This will enhance the flavor of the dumpling skin without diluting the flavor of the filling inside. When I was little we used to have this sweet balsamic vinegar which was really really good, and I would just eat the skin by dipping it into the sauce (and giving my grandpa the filling hehe).

A feast of dumplings

We also fried a batch after boiling it. My mom tried to make the crispy dumpling cover that you find in restaurants, but it doesn't work. It was still pretty good though, because that batch we used our own dough, which was much more chewy that the normal dumpling skin.

Finally, to top it off, we ate some frozen yogurt pops to get rid of the garlic-ky taste (since we eat dumplings with raw garlic). It was raspberry-vanilla ice cream pops, which was really tasty and less than 100 calories!

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