A Great Dish to Try While Quarantining
1. A pan-fried or steamed Chinese dumpling with ground meat or vegetable filling.
2. My second favorite thing in the world to eat.
Everyone knows how much I love classical French food. Steak frites, Moules frites, Duck confit, Blanquette de Veau, Choucroute. What people do not know is that my French mother was an avid cook of all Asian cuisines and I probably ate as much Chinese food as I ate French food growing up.
My father loved languages and mastered them like no one else. In 2 years he mastered both Mandarin Chinese and Arabic. Two languages that are very hard for Westerners. My father’s technique was simple and effective. He immersed himself fully into the adoptive culture putting himself in a position where he only had to speak one language or another for the entire duration.
The Chinese phase was my favorite because it involved many eating forays into the dining rooms and ‘secret menus’ of Chicago’s China Town. Most great Chinese restaurants offer two menus, one catering to American palates who love their General Tso’s Chicken and Sweet and Sour Pork. And the other offering sea cucumbers, jellyfish salad, and steamed duck feet for the Chinese.
As my father immersed himself further into Chinese culture he got invited deeper into a world few of us ever see. I gladly came along; probably as a gentle reminder that we were still in America.
Chinese Pork Dumplings are easy to make and fun for the whole family.
basic dumpling dough
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1–1/4 cups boiling water
pork and crab dumpling filling
- 2 cups cabbage shredded
- 1–1/2 pound ground pork
- 1/2 pound crab meat
- 1 bunch green onions sliced thinly
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon white pepper
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon mirin
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon chili paste
- 1-inch ginger root peeled, chopped fine
- 3 cloves garlic chopped fine
basic dumpling dough
- Put the flour into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a stainless steel blade. Boil water and carefully add to the flour with the motor running. Keep processing until it forms a ball. If it is sticky add a touch of flour. If it is too dry add a little more boiling water. Put in a ziplock bag and let sit for 15 minutes.
pork and crab filling
- This dish gets quicker if you have all the attachments for your food processor. Use the shredding attachment to shred the cabbage. If not, hand chop finely. Sprinkle one tablespoon of salt over the cabbage and let sit for 30 minutes. You will notice water coming out and the cabbage gets softer. Squeeze the cabbage completely dry, keeping only the cabbage.
- Put cabbage in a large bowl with the ground pork, crab meat, green onions, white pepper, soy sauce, mirin, sesame oil, chili garlic paste, ginger, garlic, and cornstarch. Ideally, let the mixture sit overnight BUT I have made the dumplings right away and they are delicious.
finishing the dumplings
- The dough dries out quickly so keep covered while working it. Cut dough into 36 equal pieces. You can use anything from a wine bottle to a rolling pin to a pasta machine to roll the dough thinly. I use my $6 pasta machine.
- Put a mound of dumpling mixture onto each rolled out a piece of dough. Wrap meat up in the dough, twist to seal all edges and pinch off any extra dough.
- Put into the steamer basket on a bed of cabbage leaves and steam over rapidly boiling water for 15 minutes. I like to serve with a simple sauce made from mixing soy, mirin ginger, green onions, chili paste and a small splash of sesame oil.