Asian Chicken Dumplings — Done Two Ways — Part I

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This is Part I of a two-part Dumpling blog. In Part II, we used store-bought Wonton Wrappers instead of making our own dough below.

Dumplings. Potstickers. Shumai. It’s all the same, right? Yes and no. While I’m no expert on Asian cooking, I did take a dumpling class at The Cambridge School of Culinary Arts last summer. Thanks, Chef Mark!

Since my taste buds… or I should say my ability to identify ingredients more easily, has changed over the past few months, I know, for me, how much ginger, garlic, etc. I want in my food… in this case, dumplings. I am able to show a lot more restrain. I used to always say, “Damn, I put too much of this,” or “Damn, this is way too overpowering.” But now, through trial and error, I can balance things out.

How do you do that? Well for one, you practice. Two, you make a mini sample of something before you make the entire batch. For instance, if you’re making meatballs… make one tiny one the size of a quarter, cook it, taste it, and adjust the seasoning. You can fix most things very easily… unless your mistake is adding too much salt. (insert “This is why Jen was voted off The Taste” joke here.)

As I think I’ve been teaching you, make things the way YOU want. If you want more ginger in your dumplings, add more. If you like your dumplings spicy, add some red pepper flakes DAMN IT! You’re the boss. Not Tony Danza… YOU!

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Green Onions/Scallions and Fresh Ginger are a must.

For the filling: You can use chicken or pork. Or both. In this recipe, I used chicken. You can also add mushrooms to this recipe but… I don’t love mushrooms in dumplings. You can also use Napa Cabbage… GREAT addition, but again, I opted out. This time, I’m all about the MEAT.

For the wrappers/dough:  In this version, I made my own dumpling dough which is flour and hot water. Yes, that’s it. Crazy, huh? But I kind of like that shumai-type dumpling so I’ll pick up some wonton wrappers tomorrow and show you how to make them a different way. This way you can see the difference… and hopefully taste the difference, too. So here we go:

Ingredients:

Dough:
2 1/4 C Flour all-purpose (and more for kneeding)
3/4C HOT water
2 T Oil vegetable, canola or olive

Filling:
1lb. Ground Chicken or Pork
2T Fresh Garlic grated
1/3 C Green Onions/Scallions chopped
4 Garlic Cloves chopped
1/4 C Fresh Cilantro chopped
1/4 C Soy Sauce
2 T Sesame Oil
1/4 C Rice Wine Vinegar
2 T Corn Starch
Oil for pan-frying
Salt and Pepper

Optional:
2 C Napa Cabbage shredded
1 C Mushrooms finely chopped

Dipping Sauce:
2T Soy Sauce
2T Rice Wine Vinegar
2t Sesame Oil
1 Thai Chili sliced, optional

Equipment:
Steam Basket for steaming, optional

In a large bowl, ready… mix all of the ingredients for the filling. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator. Done.

In another bowl, mix the flour, oil and water until a dough is formed. I have found that you do need extra flour. If  you need more flour, as small dustings as you kneed. Remember… cooking is all about feel. People ask me all the time, “How did you know that steak was done?” Well… “I just felt it.” In time, you will learn.

Kneed the dough into a ball until smooth… it’ll take a few minutes. Add enough flour until dough particles stop sticking to your fingers… it’s really that simple.

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One thing I learned in Culinary School is the importance of making things the exact same size so they cook evenly. You don’t want to have to keep checking back to a pot or pan to take out things that have cooked faster, right? Exactly. So do yourself a favor and make things uniform. It’ll save time and you’ll avoid the hassle.

If you have a circle cookie cutter, use it. Roll out small amounts of dough as thin as you can and cut into a perfect circle with a cutter, about 3 inches in diameter. Note: You can make your dumplings in any shape or size you want. Remember, you’re always the boss in the kitchen.

With a small ice cream scoop, ONE OF THE BEST THINGS YOU CAN HAVE IN THE KITCHEN, drop a spoonful of mixture into the middle of a dough circle. Fold the dough over and pinch the edges.

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Steam Basket… They sometimes come with large pots.

In a skillet, heat up some oil, preferably Grape Seed Oil because it is flavorless. Note: You can use Olive Oil but I don’t love the flavor. If you have Canola or Vegetable oil, use that over Olive Oil. Brown the dumplings on both sides until they reach a dark golden color. Remove from the pan and set aside or place directly into a steam basket.

Ok… I know not everyone has a steam basket so here is the alternative. If you don’t have a basket, simply add 1/2-1 inch of water to the pan and put a lid on it. Let the dumplings steam for at least 5 minutes.  Since consuming raw chicken and pork is dangerous, if you need to cut one open to check, go for it. You can also feel them (yes, back to feel) and if there is little bounce-back, they’re done.

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Serve with soy sauce or even duck sauce…  Enjoy!



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