Aubergine and mushrooms pan-fried dumplings (and the dumpling cube!)
Dumplings made easy (well, almost...)
So, remember when I got this for Mother’s Day?
The Dumpling Cube is a contraption that includes a pastry cutter (below), and a press. It folds neatly into a cube shape for easy putting away. I was really curious to try this out, and I’ve wanted to make dumplings for a while now, so out came Irene Kuo’s The Key to Chinese Cooking, and I checked out her recipe for panfried dumplings.
This originally called for Napa cabbage, which we couldn’t find on the market. I tried to look for Savoy cabbage, but there wasn’t any (it not really being the season for cabbage, to say the least!). So I substituted aubergine and mushrooms, though the fact that they both disgorge water when they’re cooked requires a bit more fiddling around. And yeah, not a very authentic Asian recipe, but he, it tasted divine, so I’m not going to complain!
This is not by any means a quick recipe to make, though I guess it goes a bit faster when you’re not juggling a baby and used to making the dough ^^
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1 aubergine
- 250g mushrooms
- 1 scallion
- 250g ground pork
- 2.5 tablespoon light soy sauce
- Dash pepper
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- Put the flour in a bowl. Gradually pour the water, stirring as you do so to incorporate it into the flour. Adjust water or flour if necessary: when you're done, the dough should resemble lumpy meal. Leave to rest for a bit (typically, the time while you make the filling, see below).
- Mix the pork, 1.5 tablespoon of the soy sauce, chopped scallion, ground ginger, pepper, salt and sugar. Leave to rest for a while.
- Meanwhile, mince the aubergine and mushrooms, put in a saucepan with a little water. Cover, and steam-cook for around 20 minutes, until the aubergine is soft. Press the water away from the dough to have something that's reasonably moist but not wet (this is very important, otherwise the filling will leak into the dough). Add 1 tablespoon of soy sauce and a bit of pepper, and let this rest for a bit.
- Meanwhile, in a frying pan, heat up the pork, and cook until the meat is no longer pink (the original recipe didn't call for this, but my ground pork had so much grease in it that if I hadn't cooked it, the dumplings would have been a mass of grease and water). You can start kneading the dough while everything cooks, assuming you don't mind multi-tasking (it's hard to do anything with your hands full of dough!)
- Mix the pork and vegetables together. Set aside.
- Go back to your dough, and knead it vigorously for five minutes, until it forms into a ball (add flour and/or more boiling water if necessary). The dough should be firm but not overly so. (I still quite haven't worked out that step to my satisfaction, but he, first tries and all)
- Let it rest for 30 minutes.
- Then knead it again for 5 minutes.
- At this stage, if not using the dumpling cube, roll out the dough between your fingers until you form a long roll of diameter 1-inch. Cut into 28 pieces. Form each piece into a ball.
- Flour a working surface, and roll out each ball to a flat round wrapper of around 9cm in diameter (don't forget to put extra flour on the surface, the dough drinks it like crazy!). Put the wrappers on a lightly floured tray and cover them with a damp kitchen towel to prevent them from drying out until you are ready to use them.
- In the centre of each wrapper, put 2 teaspoons of filling, and fold in half. Pinch together with your fingers. Seal by pleating the edge (it basically looks a bit like a Cornish pasty, as Ken Hom points out!). Repeat with each wrapper.
- Heat up a large work on medium heat and put a little oil at the bottom. Then put in half the dumplings when the oil is hot. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until the bottom turns golden. Then pour in a little water (about 30 mL or so? I basically poured a little from a measuring glass). CAREFUL, water and oil in a pan create a lot of spattering, so I'd stand well back from the pan while trying that particular trick. Cover and steam for 8 minutes. Uncover the pan, and cook for 2 extra minutes.
- Do the second batch.
- Eat with black rice vinegar or soy sauce (I always like to add a bit of salad and a bit of cucumber to make it feel a bit lighter on the stomach!).
So, the question on everyone’s lips is whether the Dumpling Cube is worth it? While it didn’t cut down the preparation of the dough part, it certainly helped a lot with the stuffing. The pastry cutter is sheer genius: basically, the H would roll out a large amount of dough with the rolling pin, and I’d cut out 4 or 5 square shapes, rather than having to roll every one of them by hand.
The filling of the dumplings took me all of three minutes: put the shapes in the moulds, fill each shape with a bit of filling, and then close the moulds. I had to seal them by hand, and I’ll grant you that the seal doesn’t look as pretty as it does when shaped by hand, with its lovely crimp. But the fact that I could basically stuff and shape four dumplings in 5 minutes more than made up for the lack of elegance.
Also, if anyone has any tips for making hot-water dough, I’d be quite happy to take them in stride–I don’t feel like I have the hang of this yet (I made the dough, but it was a mite hard to roll out and I had to enlist the H’s help to wield the rolling pin).
Below are more pictures of the process:
The dumplings in their cube
After closing one mould
The dumplings before cooking