The past month has been incredibly busy namely with all the traveling I’ve been doing between my big Norwegian cruise and my quick trip to Savannah last weekend. So when my parents were in town visiting last month, per usual I concocted some rather elaborate cooking adventures for my mom and me. As I’m always anxious to delve deeper into cuisines I don’t have a lot of experience with, I decided on a dim sum brunch. If you’re not familiar, dim sum refers to a style of Cantonese dumplings prepared as small bite-sized or individual portions of food traditionally served in small steamer baskets or small plates.
While I greatly enjoyed cooking with my bamboo steamer that I had purchased earlier this year, I hadn’t used it since. So making homemade steamed dumplings seemed like the perfect time to bring it out once more. Although my mom and I were both a bit leery over the whole “make dumplings from scratch kind of thing,” they really were not as bad as we envisioned (i.e. nothing broke, fell apart, came out, etc). The only thing I will say and recommend doing is to try to steam as many of the dumplings at one time, i.e. not do multiple rounds of steaming. I found that the first batch lost a lot of its beautiful opaque coloring during the warming stage (when the second batch was being steamed). They still tasted good and were certainly warm, they just didn’t retain that fresh/just steamed taste.
And obviously if you’re a vegetarian, you can easily omit the ground pork and just add more diced vegetables in its place.
Steamed Pork Dumplings
Recipe adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Asian Cooking
1/2 lb ground (minced) pork
1/2 cup water chestnuts, peeled and minced (I used canned as they were easier to procure)
3 green (spring) onions, white and pale green parts, minced
1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch (cornflour), plus extra for dusting
Pinch of ground white pepper
20 round wonton wrappers (my store only old square)
1/4 cup each thawed frozen English peas and diced carrots (I actually used these for the filling)
MAKES 20 dumplings
-In a large bowl, combine the pork, water chestnuts, green onions, peas and carrots, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, rice wine, sesame oil, sugar, 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch, and white pepper. Add to the bowl with the pork mixture. Using a rubber spatula, stir vigorously until the ingredients are well incorporated. Refrigerate the filling for at least 30 minutes (I made this in advance the day before).
-To assemble the dumplings, working with 1 wonton wrapper at a time, place it in the palm of one hand; keep the other wrappers covered with a slightly damp kitchen towel to prevent them from drying out. Put 1 heaping tablespoon of the filling in the center of the wrapper. Lightly brush the edges of the wrapper with water. Cup the wrapper in your hand, and using the thumb and index finger of your other hand, seal the two sides shut gently. Place the finished dumplings on a baking sheet dusted with cornstarch.
-In a large saucepan or wok, bring 2 inches of water to boil over high heat. Line a bamboo steamer basket or a plate with a single layer of cabbage leaves and top with half of the dumplings, leaving some space between them. Place the basket in the pan or place the plate on a steamer rack in the pan. Cover tightly, reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and steam until the dumplings are firm to the touch and the visible filling is opaque, about 10 minutes. Transfer the dumplings to a warmed platter and keep warm while you steam the remaining dumplings. Serve at once with the dipping sauce.