On the rare weekend where there really isn't anything urgent to accomplish, Paul and I like to undertake some type of cooking project together while the child naps. When Matthew naps, he is normally passed out for at least 2 hours, leaving us with a wide window of opportunity to expand our culinary skills or just make something fun for dinner. Normally, we try to make something in bulk that can be frozen for future hectic weeknights when we may need to prepare dinner in a hurry. In the past, we have tackled Chinese BBQ Pork Buns, Gnocchi (both regular and sweet potato), Ravioli, Tortellini, and Sushi. A few weekends ago, Paul and I decided to make a couple varieties of steamed dumplings that one might find in a Chinese dim sum restaurant.
We chose to make a bunch of these little dumplings, but wanted to make two types of filling. We settled on a more traditional pork filling and a delicious-sounding Thai-style chicken filling (we have really been loving our green curry paste so why not incorporate this ingredient into a steamed dumpling). The fillings came together in a jiffy, thanks to our handy dandy food processor, but shaping and filling the dumplings took a little bit of practice. As you can see from the photos, we never really managed to make these look outstandingly professional, but at least the filling was contained and nothing exploded during the steaming process. After filling and shaping the dumplings, we set up our steamer basket over a pot of simmering water and cooked the little things until the meat was completely firm. Served with a side of soy sauce (or Fish Sauce and lime juice for the Thai-style dumplings), this was a fun and delicious dinner! We even made sure to pick up some chopsticks from the sushi bar at our grocery store.
We made about 60 dumplings with these recipes and froze 2/3 of them for later dinners. The frozen dumplings can be steamed directly from frozen by simply adding an extra 5 minutes to the cooking time. They taste almost as good as fresh!
Shrimp and Pork Shu Mai
from Cook's Illustrated
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon unflavored powdered gelatin
1 pound boneless country-style pork ribs, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 pound shrimp, peeled, tails removed and halved lengthwise (see note)
1/4 cup water chestnuts, chopped
4 dried shiitake mushroom caps (about 3/4 ounce), soaked in hot water 30 minutes, squeezed dry, and cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon Chinese rice cooking wine (Shaoxing) or dry sherry
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 package 5 1/2 inch wonton or eggroll wrappers
Combine soy sauce and gelatin in small bowl. Set aside to allow gelatin to bloom, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, place half of pork in food processor and pulse until coarsely ground into approximate 1/8-inch pieces, about ten 1-second pulses; transfer to large bowl. Add shrimp and remaining pork to food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped into approximate ¼-inch pieces, about five 1-second pulses. Transfer to bowl with more finely ground pork. Stir in soy sauce mixture, water chestnuts, mushrooms, cornstarch, cilantro, sesame oil, wine, vinegar, sugar, ginger, salt, and pepper.
Divide wrappers into 3 stacks (with about 6-7 per stack). Using 3-inch biscuit cutter, cut two 3-inch rounds from each stack of egg roll wrappers (you should have 40-42 rounds). Cover rounds with moist paper towels to prevent drying.
Working with 6 rounds at a time, brush edges of each round lightly with water. Place heaping tablespoon of filling into center of each round. Following illustrations below, form dumplings, crimping wrapper around sides of filling and leaving top exposed. Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheet, cover with damp kitchen towel, and repeat with remaining wrappers and filling.
Cut piece of parchment slightly smaller than diameter of steamer basket and place in basket. Poke about 20 small holes in parchment and lightly coat with nonstick cooking spray. Place batches of dumplings on parchment liner, making sure they are not touching. Set steamer over simmering water and cook, covered, until no longer pink, 8-10 minutes.
Thai-Style Curried Chicken Filling
adapted from Cook's Illustrated
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 cup minced onion (from 1 small onion)
1/4 cup minced celery (from 1 small celery stalk)
1 small clove garlic, minced, (at least 1/2 teaspoon)
2 medium carrots, shredded (about 1 cup)
1/2 teaspoon red curry paste
3 tablespoons unsweetened coconut milk
6 ounces ground chicken
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
Pinch of table salt
2 tablespoons shredded fresh cilantro leaves
1 package wonton wrappers
Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onions, celery and garlic; sauté until almost softened, about 3 minutes. Add carrots; sauté until vegetables soften, about 2 minutes longer. Add curry paste and coconut milk; cook over medium-high heat, stirring to incorporate curry paste, until most of coconut milk has been absorbed. Transfer vegetables mixture to a bowl; cool to room temperature.
Mix in remaining filling ingredients. Let stand about 30 minutes. Refrigerate until ready to make dumplings.
Fill and steam dumplings according to the directions detailed in the recipe for Shrimp and Pork Shu Mai. Serve with additional fish sauce seasoned with sugar and lime juice! Enjoy!