A couple of Sundays ago, Teresa and I were deciding what to cook. My girls had just gone back to school after Spring Break, so the nest was feeling a bit empty. I needed something warm, comforting, delicious, and more than that, something I could sink my teeth (figuratively as well as literally) into. Hmmm… What then, Fish tacos? No, just had them, what about pasta? Not knocking my socks off. Then it came to us, well, it came to Teresa, a genius idea. “What about Asian dumplings?” The skeptic in me shook my head, thinking, “oh, yeah, like we could make those amazing pillows of yumminess! Doubt that!” But it sounded soooooo good! The kids and I had just been to the best dumpling place ever, called Din Tai Fung, the kind of place where you usually have to wait an (so worth it) hour for a table.
“Perfect!” I said.
Now the recipe search. A quick search of Epicurious.com, one of our favorite recipe sources, yielded several good choices. We noted one of the first recipes on the menu had been rated “4 forks”, the highest rating, and included easy-to-find ingredients. This is a recipe you have to make, I was astounded by how easy it was, and so delicious!
I altered it a bit to include peas and carrots. The original recipe called for blanched Napa cabbage, which is wonderful, but we served Brussels Sprouts as a side to the dumplings, and, well, that amount of cabbage would be just a little much.
Pork Dumplings (adapted from Epicurious.com)
1 lb ground pork
1 1/2 cup frozen peas and carrots, thawed
1T fresh ginger, grated
2 scallions, sliced in half lengthwise, then sliced thin (use most of scallion)
4T soy sauce
1T cooking sherry
2t sesame oil
1 pkg refrigerated dumpling wrappers (50-ct), round or square
3T soy sauce
1t rice vinegar
1t sesame oil
hot pepper sauce, like Sriracha
Place the pork in a large bowl. In a small bowl, place the ginger, cover with the 2T water and let steep a few minutes. While waiting for the ginger to steep, place the following in the bowl with the pork: peas and carrots (be sure they are drained), scallions, soy sauce, cooking sherry, sesame oil, salt and pinch of pepper.
Next, over a strainer, press the ginger with the back of a spoon for about 30 seconds and water until all of the water is in the bowl with the pork ingredients. Press again until the ginger looks dry, then discard the ginger. Stir until all ingredients are evenly distributed.
Now, line a sheet pan with foil. Unwrap your dumpling wrappers. Place one flat in front of you. Get a small bowl of water and set it next to you. Put a tablespoonful of the meat mixture in the center of the wrapper. Dip your forefinger in the water and outline the wrapper. This makes the edges stick to one another. Fold the wrapper with meat mixture in half, pinching the edges all around so they stick together well. Set on your lined sheet pan. There are many fancier ways to fold a dumpling, which you can find on YouTube. This method is the simplest and good for first-time dumpling makers. You should be able to make 48-50 triangular or moon-shaped dumplings in all. You can freeze them in a ziplock bag at this point if you don’t wish to cook them. They will keep in the freezer for a few months.
Next, boil a pot of water. Whichever pot you usually use to boil pasta is likely just fine for this. While waiting for the water to boil, go ahead and mix together the sauce ingredients. The hot sauce is optional. Since there were 4 of us for dinner, we doubled the sauce recipe and in half of it we added 1/2 – 1 tsp of Sriracha, since some of us don’t prefer the fab spiciness!
Once your water is boiling, quickly and gently add 5-7 dumplings. This will lower the water temp a bit, but when it returns to boil, cook dumplings for about 4 minutes, until the wrapper is translucent. Remove them with a slotted spoon or a strainer, placing them on a plate. Do not stack them, because as they cool they will stick together!
Repeat in batches until all dumplings are cooked.
Dip in sauce, and enjoy!