Reading David’s review of Pacificana inspired me to make some dim sum of my own. I picked up some dumpling wrappers at Hong Kong market in Manhattan’s Chinatown – though you can find perfectly competent wrappers all over the city. Homemade dumplings are fast, delicious, and a lot of fun to make. You can fill them with virtually anything and they’ll almost always come out great. Just remember not to over stuff.
I had some nice chives from the Borough Hall farmers market so I recently made these classic pork and chive dumplings. When shopping for pork you can get away with supermarket pre-ground pork but it’s just as quick — and much better — to grind pork shoulder yourself (since you’ll be using the food processor anyway). Or if you’re near a butcher, ask for their fresh ground pork shoulder.
The trick is to grind the ingredients in a food processor just till they’re ground enough to stuff into the dumpling wrapper. Don’t grind them too finely.
You can cook the dumplings in any number of ways, but I like a combination of frying to sear the bottom and them steaming to cook through. It doesn’t require any complicated equipment, just a frying pan with a cover. (You can even use a sheet of tin foil if you don’t have a cover).
Dip them into your favorite dumpling sauce – try mixing 2 parts soy sauce, 1 part rice vinegar, a splash of sesame oil, and if you want something spicy, add minced chilis or sriracha. A little palm sugar or honey if you want too.
1 package circular dumpling wrappers
1/2 pound ground pork shoulder
1 bunch chives
2 cloves garlic
1/2 inch piece of ginger
2 thai chilis (optional)
1 tsp corn starch
1. Grind pork shoulder in a food processor (if not pre-ground), making sure the pieces are not too small. Remove the pork from the processor to a mixing bowl. Peel the garlic and ginger and roughly chop them along with the chives and thai chilis if you’re using. Grind them together in the food processor. Combine with pork in the mixing bowl and gently mix, seasoning with salt and pepper.
2. Combine 1 tsp corn starch with some water in a small bowl. With your hands or a spoon, scoop out a small amount of the pork mixture and place it in the middle of a circular dumpling wrapper. Dip a finger in the corn starch and water mixture and trace your finger around the edge of the wrapper. Fold the edges towards each other like a half moon and press the edges together. You can also try some other shapes if you’d like.
3. When you’ve made all the dumplings, heat a pan large enough to fit the dumplings to medium-high heat. Add vegetable oil or sesame oil to the pan. When the pan gets fairly hot, carefully add the dumplings to the pan. Cook for about 2 minutes until the bottom side of the dumplings get crispy. Meanwhile, fill a measuring cup with 1/2-2/3 of a cup of water. When the dumplings are browned, add the water to the pan and immediately cover. Be careful, as the oil will immediately splatter when you add the water. If you don’t have a cover, you can lightly place a sheet of tin foil over the pan – just be careful not to burn yourself. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the water evaporates.
4. Carefully remove the dumplings to a plate. Eddie Huang of Bauhaus once told me you should serve them browned side up so everyone can see how well you fried your dumplings. Your call. Serve immediately with a cold beer and your favorite dumpling sauce.
Makes: 25-30 dumplings
Total time: 45 minutes