The lowly dumpling. In Western-style cooking it is a simple staple, a source of carbohydrates and a great comfort food. However, made in the Chinese way, it is an artistic creation from the kitchen. Chinese Dumplings (Jiao Zi or Gow Gee, in the Mandarin dialect) are a mixture made of dough filled with meat, chicken and/or vegetables. It is frequently dished up as part of dim sum. The correct preparation calls for plenty of time, patience and effort but the end result, when done properly, are definitely worth it.
360 g white flour
240 – 350 ml water
1 tsp salt
You will need to buy the right variety of Chinese flour, which can be either rice flour or wheat flour. Normal plain white flour has a completely different consistency when mixed with water and cooked.
Make sure that the water is extremely cold, in fact nearly freezing. Mix the salt and flour together and add 240ml of the water. Blend well into a smooth dough adding extra water if the consistency is too dry. Knead well and make sure that the end result is a smooth ball. If you inadvertently add too much water, just balance it with a little more flour. Cover the dough and let it rest for at least half an hour.
1 lb lean minced meat (beef, pork or chicken)
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp brandy
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp white pepper
Mix all the filling ingredients carefully to make sure that the meat doesn’t end up as a mush.
This recipe should make 60 Chinese dumplings, so divide the dough into 60 pieces and roll each piece until it is about 7.5 cm (3 inches) in diameter.
Put about a tablespoonful of the meat mixture onto one disc and fold in half, sealing with a little water and pinching the edges together until you have a half moon shape. If you have one of those gadgets which does this for you, wet the edges of the dough disc, place it on the dumpling maker, spoon in the filling and press the edges of the dumpling maker together.
Chinese dumplings can be boiled or fried
To boil, bring a large pan of water to the boil and add half the dumplings. When the water boils again add 120 ml cold water and bring back to the boil. At this point add the other half of the dumplings and another 120ml cold water. Stir the dumplings very carefully to stop them from sticking together. Bring to the boil for a third time and the dumplings should be ready.
At this point you can fry the dumplings in a wok with hot oil. You will need to keep them on the move to prevent them from sticking and to make sure that both sides take a little colour.
Serve the dumplings with a dipping sauce of equal amounts of soy sauce and dark vinegar, to which you can add a little chopped red chilli if you like a bit of spice.
Chinese dumplings are often served at New Year banquet as they are a symbol of wealth and good luck for the coming year but as part of a dim sum selection, you can eat them with pleasure whenever you want to.