Monday, August 17, 2009

Experiment: Pork Dumplings

Pork dumplings

Chinese-style fried pork dumplings have been an idée fixe of mine lately, thanks in part to the unbelievable ($4.75 for eight) ones from Eagle City, my much-beloved (especially when hung over) Chinese-Mexican restaurant on Fulton St. I made my own variation on these dumplings--using purchased square wonton wrappers, I’m not THAT ambitious--and was pretty thrilled with the results. (Read: I ate about 17 in a sitting.) Here's what to do...

Mush together in a big bowl (use your hands, don’t be afraid) about a pound of ground pork or ground chicken (this is a total non-exact-measurements-required recipe) and some chopped garlic, chopped ginger, a little soy or teriyaki sauce, a handful of chopped chives (or chopped scallions), kosher or sea salt, and a scattering of red pepper flakes.

Set up a small finger bowl of cold water. Bring a steamer to a boil. (I used a metal steamer and found that brushing the bottom with a little canola oil kept the dumplings from sticking to the bottom and tearing.)

Place a table-teaspoon (i.e., not the measuring kind) full of pork mixture diagonally across a square wonton wrapper. Using a basting brush or your fingertips, run water from the finger bowl around all four edges of the wonton wrapper. Fold in the two corners on either side of the longer side of the oval of pork filling. Fold in the other two sides and press them together; fold over the triangular tip onto the side of the dumpling. Repeat until filling is gone. (You can keep remaining wonton wrappers refrigerated, tightly wrapped in plastic, for several months.)

Place your finished dumplings in batches in a steamer. You should probably be able to tell they’re done when they turn kind of wrinkly and translucent, but you will want to grab one with tongs and cut into it to make sure they’re done. It doesn’t take more than about 5 minutes.

You can, if you like, follow up the steaming by frying them in a pan of bubbling-hot canola oil, turning to the other side after a couple of minutes, then draining on a paper bag or paper towels. Obviously, I did this.

I served these with a salad/salsa of cucumber and finely diced red onion salad tossed in lime juice with fresh basil and cilantro; sauted green beans with garlic and ginger; brown rice; and, of course, soy and duck sauce packets from my trusty Eagle City. Considering the armada of dumplings that $3 worth of pork and $3 worth of wonton wrappers produced, this might actually be the first time I’ve succeeded in making a dish from scratch that is cheaper than ordering the equivalent from them.

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