Dimsum– quite possibly one of the best things about living in Asia. Also one of the best things about living in a country where there are so many excellent Chinese/Cantonese restaurants. I can eat a whole meal comprised of just these steamed wonders. Dimsum has always been a favourite of mine since childhood, but lately I have come to gain a new appreciation for Dimsum, when two of my bestest friends and I began this tradition of meeting over dimsum and catching up. We try to do it every month if all our schedules permit, and quite frankly it’s one of the highlights of my month whenever we do.
There have been many an intimate conversation shared over dimsum, whichever dimsum place we decide to dine in. I never have any qualms spilling my soul out to these two. And I think I speak for the three of us when I say we aren’t afraid to sound shallow or stupid in front of each other. We rant, complain, blow off steam regarding whatever it is going on in our lives, from the mundane to the very serious. And always at the end of the meal my heart feels a lot less heavier.
I hope we stay like this until we grow old.
This month, my lovelies and I have not been able to meet for out dimsum date yet, but we’ve been leaving each other voice messages on WeChat nonstop. It’s slightly funny how we don’t really live that far from each other but sometimes it’s difficult to find a common time to meet. I guess that’s what growing up does to you. I suppose I was missing them when I decided to make some homemade dumplings and dimsum at home one Sunday. Nevermind that it takes hours to make these but only seconds to gobble them up. I felt it only right to make something from my bare hands to honour our friendship, and a wonderfully delicious one at that! The filling of these dumplings are so juicy and flavourful! This was also a great opportunity for me to shoot a dumpling-making video. Hoooooooray!
I don’t even know if anybody watches these things, but since I’ve always loved editing videos, I’m going to keep going. It would be nice to receive a little feedback though. I admit, it’s a little hard to shoot videos by myself and have to adjust the camera with my floury, buttery hands– not to mention I accidentally kicked my tripod once and it toppled to the ground. My poor camera!
I love making these videos for some reason, and luckily, my baby brother has recently become curious about filming videos after seeing me film a few times so I was more than happy to show him how to do it. Hehe! With his help, I’ve shot a few more recipes already and hopefully I can squeeze in a little time to edit them one by one. For this one, I actually used my “zen voice” to fit the mood. 😉
Pork & Napa Cabbage Water Dumplings
- 2 cups lightly packed finely chopped napa cabbage
- 1/2 teaspoon plus scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoons finely minced fresh ginger
- 1/4 cup chopped Chinese chives or scallions
- 2/3 pound ground fatty pork, coarsely chopped to loosen
- 1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1/4 cup chicken stock or water
- 1 1/2 tablespoons light soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 1 pound Basic Dumpling Dough
To make the filling
- 1. Put the cabbage in a bowl and toss with 1 1/2 teaspoon salt. Set aside for about 15 minutes to draw excess moisture from the cabbage. Drain in a mesh strainer and flush with water. Drain again. To remove more moisture, squeeze the cabbage in your hands over the sink. You should have about 1/2 cup firmly packed cabbage.
- 2. Transfer the cabbage to a bowl and add ginger, chives, and pork. Use a fork or spatula to stir and lightly mash the ingredients so that they start coming together.
- 3. In a small bowl, stir together the remaining scant 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper, chicken stock or water, soy sauce, rice wine, canola oil, and sesame oil.
- 4. Pour these seasonings over the pork and cabbage mixture, then stir and fold the ingredients together. Once the pork has broken up, briskly stir to blend the ingredients into a cohesive, thick mixture. There should not be any visible large chunks of pork.
- 5. To develop the flavors, cover and set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes. You should have about 2 cups of filling.*
- 6. Meanwhile, make 16 wrappers from half of the dough. Aim for 3-1/4-inch diameter wrappers.
To assemble the dumplings
- 7. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.** For each dumpling, hold a wrapper in a slightly cupped hand. Scoop up about 1 tablespoon of filling with a spoon or bamboo spatula, and position it slightly off-center, toward the upper half of the dumpling wrapper, pressing and shaping into a flat mound, and keeping about 1/2 to 3/4 inches of the wrapper clear on all sides.
- 8. Fold, pleat, and press to enclose the filling and create dumpling in desired shape. (See video for methods of shaping dumplings.)
- 9. Place the finished dumpling on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the other half of wrapper dough, assembling the dumplings and spacing them a good 1/2 inch apart on the baking sheet. Keeping the finished dumplings covered with a dry kitchen towel, form and fill the wrappers from the remaining dough.
- 10. 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.
To cook the dumplings
- 11. Half fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add half the dumplings, gently dropping each into the water. Nudge the dumplings apart with a wooden spoon to keep them from sticking together and to the bottom of the pan. Return the water to a simmer and maintain to gently cook the dumplings for about 8 minutes, or until they float to the surface, look glossy, are puffed up and a tad translucent.
- 12. Use a slotted spoon to scoop up the dumplings from the pot, a few at a time, pausing the spoon's motion over the pot's rim to allow excess water to drop back down before putting the dumpling on a serving plate. Cover the plate with a large inverted bowl to keep the dumplings warm.
- 13. Return the water to a boil and cook the remaining dumplings. When done, if desired, return the first batch to the hot water to reheat for a minute or two. There is no need to reboil.
- 14. Immediately serve the dumplings with a dipping sauce or simple soy sauce and enjoy while hot.
- Storage: Dumplings will keep for up to 1 month if frozen. After shaping, freeze them on the baking sheet until hard, about 1 hour, then transfer them to a zip-top freezer bag, pressing out excess air before sealing. Partially thaw, using your finger to smooth over any cracks that may have formed during freezing, before cooking.
** If you plan to refrigerate the dumplings for several hours, or freeze them, lightly dust the paper with flour to avoid sticking. Adapted from Asian Dumplings by Andrea Nguyen