Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Shandong-style Dumpling

Jiaozi (饺子 in chinese), to me are like little "gems" filled with flavourful goodness that Hubby and I both love.

Having had enough of the western-style food during the past 2 weeks of vacation, I decided that I should go the chinese way for the time being, and so making and eating jiaozi is one of the way to go!  I love how we can cook them in noodles or even eat it on its own!  Good for times when you do not feel like cooking and cleaning much.  All you have to do is just to boil a pot of water and dump the frozen dumplings in and voila!, you get a fast meal out of it - best when eaten with vinegar and thinly sliced ginger.

Not wanting to take the shortcut this time, I made the dumpling wraps instead of getting ready-made ones.  So, I went on a recipe-search spree and finally decided to go with Chubby Hubby's Shandong-style Jiaozi recipe.

It was a nervous first time for me and I had my worries. All the worries about dumpling wraps turning out too thick, dough will be too difficult to hand etc turned out to be unfounded.  All I can say is, the first few wrappings will be abit difficult to handle, and the wrapped dumplings will not look as pleasant but few more practices later you will be good on your own.

This recipe is truly a keeper.  I will use this recipe again if I need my jiaozi fix next time!

 Shandong-style Jiaozi by Chubby Hubby
 Makes about 75 dumplings

 For dough
 250g plain flour
 125ml cold water

 For the filling
 500g ground pork (not too lean. Remember, fat is flavour!)
 125ml water
 2 tablespoons soy sauce
 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
 1 egg
 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
 50g dried shrimps (“hae bee”), soaked till soft, drained and finely chopped
 500g grated and chopped courgette (zucchini)
 250g finely chopped Chinese chives (“koo chye”)
 Salt and pepper to taste

 For the dipping sauce
 125ml soy sauce
 2 tbsp Chinese black vinegar or rice vinegar
 1 tsp sesame oil
 1 teaspoon of chili paste or oil (optional)

 Special equipment:
 a 15cm rolling pin or dowel
 A large, covered pot in which to cook the dumplings

Make dough:
Put the flour in a large bowl, then add water, stirring with a wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms. Turn out dough (including any loose flour) onto a work surface and knead until smooth, about 5 minutes.  If the dough is too sticky, mix in some extra flour. If it seems a bit dry, sprinkle with a bit of water. Form into a ball and cover well in plastic  wrap. Let stand at room temperature at least 30 minutes.

Make filling while dough stands:
Put the ground pork in a bowl, and start mixing a bit of water in, stirring in one direction only. Chopsticks are ideal stirring implements if mixing by hand. Continue adding water, the soy sauce and the wine and stirring all the while until the filling looks a bit sticky. You may not need all the water so don’t dump it in all at once!

At this point, add in the egg, sesame oil, ginger, dried shrimp, zucchini, chives and salt if needed. Fry off a little patty to check the taste; it should be highly seasoned and almost too salty, as it will be put into skins later on.

After the dough has rested, continue kneading 5 more minutes on a lightly floured surface. The dough should be elastic, smooth and not sticky (it should feel as soft and silky as a baby’s bottom!). Divide the dough into two and cover the piece you aren’t using with some plastic wrap. Roll the other piece of dough into an even rope, about 20cm long. Cut the rope into 1.5cm lengths to form about 30 pieces. Roll each bit into a ball and flatten with your palm. Start rolling out each small disc of dough with a rolling pin that has been lightly dusted with flour into 7.5cm rounds, rolling from the centre to the edges, making the centre slightly thicker and the edges thinner. Remember to keep all unused dough covered when not using.

Line a tray with parchment paper or dust well with flour. Work on one dumpling at a time, keeping the remaining wrappers covered. Place about two teaspoons of filling in the middle of a wrapper. Starting at one end, seal the dumpling together by squeezing to form a crescent shape. Place filled dumpling on the prepared baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Repeat with remaining ingredients until all the wrappers are filled.

No nice neat pleats for my jiaozi this round.

Bring large pot of water to boil. Add enough jiaozi to cover the base of the pot about one and a half times, stirring to make sure none stick to the base of the pot. Cover.

When it comes to a boil, add 250ml cold water. Cover and repeat two more times. When the water comes to a boil for the third time, the dumplings are ready. Scoop out with a spider onto a plate and serve immediately with sauce on the side.

NOTE: The theory behind adding cups of water is that if you stop it before the third boil, the meat will not be cooked through. Also, if you don’t add cold water each time, the jiaozi will fill up with air and explode.

Make dipping sauce:
Combine vinegar, soy sauce sesame and chilli, if using.

You can freeze uncooked dumplings for later use. Freeze dumplings separately on trays until firm, then put them in freezer bags. When cooking from frozen, cook exactly the same way as above.

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