In a "celebration" of past Daring Cooks and Daring Bakers challenges, Lisa challenged all of us to search through the Daring Kitchen archives and pick any one we'd like! The REAL challenge was picking which delicious recipe(s) to try!
Oh yes, it definitely was a challenge choosing which, well, challenge to choose. I wanted to stay on the cooks' side, as I'd stayed on the bakers' side with the bakers' choose-your-own-adventure challenge, and I wanted to try something from before I joined the Daring Kitchen myself. At least that narrowed things down!
I finally settled on making Chinese dumplings, the Daring Cooks' Challenge from June 2009.
While the recipe was a bit intimidating at first, I wound up being surprised by how simple (though a bit time consuming...) these delicious morsels are to make.
There are two components to dumplings - the dough and the filling. The dough is, quite simply, a combination of flour and water. That's it.
The filling, however, has a few more ingredients than that.
I started with ground pork, to which I added minced napa cabbage, minced green onions, minced garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, a sprinkle of ginger and a bit of cornstarch.
In order to help me stay organized, I prepared both the dough and the filling earlier in the afternoon. Then, when it came time to prepare for dinner, it was simply a matter of putting the dumplings together.
This, however, is the time consuming part. And I got a bit of help from my fun dumpling press. I simply divided the dough into about 24 sections, rolled each one flat, laid it in the press and added the filling.
Then... just... press!
And then I got to use my bamboo steamer. Which may or may not have been a factor in my choice of this recipe this month...
The dumplings were placed on a bed of napa cabbage leaves in the steamer...
...and six minutes later, we were ready for dinner! (okay, 12 minutes later... I had to steam them in two batches so that the dumplings would lay in a single layer in the steamer baskets...)
I also prepared a quick dipping sauce, using soy sauce, rice vinegar, a pinch of brown sugar and a sprinkling of each garlic powder and ginger powder.
The result was absolutely delicious. Everyone loved them, and everyone ate very well that night. I will definitely have to make these again.
Lisa, thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to go back and try this delicious challenge!!
To see what the other members chose this month, check them out here.
(from the June 2009 Daring Cooks' Challenge)
For the Filling:
1 lb ground pork
4 large napa cabbage leaves, minced
3 stalks green onions, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon ginger powder
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp corn starch
For the Dough:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup warm water
flour for work surface
(note: these proportions make enough dough for half of the filling, but it is the proportions that are easiest to work with. Either double the recipe, make two single batches, or, as I did, cook up the remaining filling separately as delicious meatballs!)
To prepare the filling, simply combine all of the ingredients until well mixed. Set aside until you are ready to make the dumplings. I covered my filling with plastic wrap and placed it in the fridge.
To prepare the dough, place the flour in a large bowl, then mix 1/4 cup of water, stirring until the water is absorbed. Continue adding water one teaspoon at a time and mixing thoroughly until dough pulls away from sides of bowl. We want a firm dough that is barely sticky to the touch.
Knead the dough about twenty strokes then cover with a damp towel for 15 minutes.
When you are ready to prepare the dumplings, take the dough and form a flattened dome. Cut into strips about 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide. Shape the strips into rounded long cylinders. On a floured surface, cut the strips into 3/4 inch pieces. Press palm down on each piece to form a flat circle (you can shape the corners in with your fingers). With a rolling pin, roll out a circular wrapper from each flat disc. Take care not to roll out too thin or the dumplings will break during cooking - about 1/16th inch. Leave the centers slightly thicker than the edges. Place a tablespoon of filling in the center of each wrapper and fold the dough in half, pleating the edges along one side (see images in post for how to fold pleats). Keep all unused dough under damp cloth.
The prepared dumplings can be boiled (until they float), fried (as potstickers) or steamed - in a single layer in a steamer basket, covered, for about 6 minutes.