I love dumplings. I'd definitely list them as one of the foods I'd want on my desert island. Along with tres leches cake and a nicely smoked brisket. It's an eclectic food culture on my island.
I'm fairly sure that I had dumplings twice a month when we lived in DC. There was a little Chinese food place that I had on speed dial. They knew my order. One order vegetable dumplings, one order pork dumplings, and one General Tsao's Chicken (for Mr. S). In fact, one time I called from a different phone and they took down our address wrong. But the driver took one look at what was in the bag and called Mr. S's phone number to confirm it was us.
He got a big tip.
But since we moved to California, I haven't found a restaurant that will deliver to us. But I have found an Asian grocery with all the necessities.....
Start off with the napa cabbage. Chop it down and then blitz it in a food processor.
Move the cabbage shreds into a colander. Mix in a 1/2 tsp of salt. Cover it with a plate and weight it down to force the water out of it.
Wait for about 10 minutes. While you're waiting -
Dice 3 or 4 green onions. Whites and greens.
Then grate up some ginger on your microplane zester.
Pull out the necessary liquids - sesame oil, soy sauce, and the prettiest bottle of rice wine for under $2.00 at the store. It's pink. I was sold.
Put the ground pork, chopped green onions, ginger, liquids, black pepper, and crushed red pepper in the food processor.
If you're using low-sodium soy sauce (or like things salty) toss in a 1/4 tsp salt too. Blitz the mixture 4 to 5 times, or until everything's combined.
In a large bowl, mix the cabbage with the meat mixture.
Get out your dumpling wrappers. You'll find them in your grocery store, they are typically near the bagged salads or fresh herbs. Or tofu, if you know where that is. In my Asian grocery store I had lots of choices. I picked these. You'll probably have the choice of round or square. Go round.
Now, get a small bowl of water and set up your station:
Place about a tablespoon of the pork mixture in the center of a wrapper.
Then dip your finger in the water and wet the outside edge of the wrapper. All the way around.
Now, you have 2 choices. You can create fold the wrapper over and seal the edges, creating a half moon shaped pouch.
You can get all fancy-like and make a beggar's purse. Here's what it's supposed to look like:
To create all the little folds, here's what you do:
Pick up the wrapper with the meat in the center and gently cup it in your hand. Pinch the wrapper together at one end. Fold one side a little, over your finger. Pinch the wrinkle down onto the other side of the wrapper. Continue the folding and pinching until you come to the other side. You'll make a bit of a curve on the top.
Ta da! Now you make your dumpling army.
You'll notice that most of them are *ahem* a bit imperfect. That's totally ok. They'll cook up juuuuuust fine.
To cook them, warm up your steaming apparatus.
Load up your steamer basket. Be sure to line it with the extra cabbage leaves. Or you can use cupcake liners. Apparently those work well too. Let the dumplings steam for 10 minutes. When they come out they are all wrinkly. Yum!
Cover them in green onion sauce (bonus recipe tomorrow) and soy sauce. Ready to eat!
Steamed Pork Dumplings
Makes around 40, depending on how full you want them
Adapted from Steamy Kitchen
1 lb napa cabbage
1/2 tsp salt
1 lb ground pork
3 green onions, diced
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp rice wine
1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
4-5 twists of fresh black pepper (1/4 tsp)
1/3 tsp crushed red pepper flake
1 package round dumpling wrappers
Chop up the napa cabbage and place in the bowl of an electric food processor. Blitz the cabbage for 4 to 5 pulses, until finely diced. Remove cabbage from processor and place in strainer. Mix 1/2 tsp of salt into the cabbage. Top the cabbage with a plate and something heavy to weigh it down. Wait 10 minutes for water to drain from cabbage. (don't skip this step or your dumplings will be too watery)
While the cabbage is draining, put the pork, green onions, ginger, sesame oil, soy sauce, rice wine, black pepper, red pepper, and a 1/4 tsp salt into the food processor. Blitz for several pulses until combined.
Once the cabbage has drained, squeeze out the last of the water with your hands (you should get a 1/3 c. or so in the bottom of the bowl). In a large bowl, combine the cabbage and the pork mixture.
Ready your dumpling station - have a small bowl of water and your wrappers out where you can easily reach them. Also, cover a pan with waxed paper (or parchment) and dust with a thin layer of flour.
Place about a tablespoon of filling into the center of a wrapper. Wet your finger and use it to wet the edges of the wrapper, all the way around. Pick the dumpling up in your hand and, using your thumb and forefinger, pinch together the side of the dumpling. Make a small fold on the outer wrapper and pinch it to the inner wrapper. Continue like this until you have completed your "beggar's purse." (See photos for clearer instruction)
Wrap all the dumpling meat in the wrappers and place on the floured paper. You can steam them and eat them (about 10 per person, if making a meal of them) or you can freeze them and steam them later.