Delicious Dumplings

797 is a website all foodies should know and love as a solid go-to source for recipes from around the world – a wealth of food knowledge for the culinary inclined if you will. For the adventurous cook, with a particular fondness for shaking things up and making dishes their own, epicurious provides a number of base recipes easily adapted to suit one’s tastes and available ingredients – or simply to provide an outlet for all that creative energy we foodie types tend to save, in part, for the kitchen. 

One of our favorite recipes from the site is for dumplings – fried or steamed. What is wonderful about this recipe is once you have mastered your first homemade dumpling dinner and feel comfortable to branch out from the standard pork or mixed vegetable fillings, the possibilities are seemingly endless. Shrimp and scallop dumplings, lobster dumplings, chicken and lemongrass dumplings, butternut squash and sage or my personal favorite baby bok choy and shitake mushroom dumplings, are all possible with a few slight adjustments in preparation and cooking times. 

In the traditional recipe for pork dumplings you will need:

1 pound well-ground, fatty pork, 1 pound Napa cabbage, 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger, 2 tablespoons water, 2 scallions, 4 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 tablespoon Chinese cooking wine or sherry, 2 teaspoons sesame oil, 1 teaspoon fine salt, pinch of white pepper, 1 package frozen dumpling wrappers and a small bowl of water. For the accompanying dipping sauce chefs should have 3 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 teaspoon Chinese black vinegar, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, a pinch of white pepper and Chinese hot pepper sauce. Most of specialty ingredients can be found at your local grocery store. We also recommend red pepper for garnish. 

For the filling make sure the pork you are using is finely ground – if not mince well with a knife. Place the pork in a large bowl and cover. After bringing a large pot of water to boil, add the cabbage and blanch until wilted. Remove the cabbage and strain out excess water before giving it a rough dice on a cutting board. Slice your scallions lengthwise and then give them a second thin slice, diagonally across the scallion before adding them to the pork. Add your grated ginger to the same bowl, as well as the soy sauce, cooking wine, sesame oil, salt, and pepper. Stir in chopped cabbage until completely incorporated.

We use frozen dumpling wrappers, which can be found in the organic section of King Kullen in Bridgehampton, instead of making our own dough. We find they quite tasty, hold together well and when it comes down to it, save us a lot of time. 

Using a teaspoon, place a scoop of the mixture in the center of the wrapper. With your fingertip wet the edges of the wrapper, which will help seal in the gingery goodness while it is cooking. Fold the dumpling wrapper in half, creating a triangle shape, and then press down along the edges to seal completely. These dumplings can be cooked immediately or frozen for a later date, although we recommend that only with the pork and vegetable versions of this recipe.

There are a number of ways to cook these dumplings – fried, steamed and boiled. When frying make sure you are using an oil that can get very hot – peanut oil is a tried and true choice. Steaming can be easily accomplished with a bamboo steamer, which is available at virtually any kitchen supply store, is easy to work with and makes for a great presentation when all is said and done. To boil or fry, gently place them in a pot of boiling water or hot oil for three to five minutes. When boiled the dumplings should develop a translucent skin and float when finished, while the fried dumplings should take on a golden hue. No matter what, serve hot. For the dipping sauce, mix all the ingredients into a small bowl, garnish with pepper and scallions and serve. 

These dumplings are hot, delicious and provide an ample amount of spice and flavor. A great dish to liven any kitchen up, dumplings are easily made and enjoyable year round, but we would suggest the vegetable varieties in the spring through the fall.