The last few days in Datca have been spent replanting avocados in the greenhouse, spraying the big trees with bug repellant, looking at the neighbours chicken coup and cooking. All those years staying with my grandfather, Peter-Opa, at his farm have come back to me… Big cooked lunches, coffee breaks, procrastination, ” Let’s visit a friend of mine.”
Hard work, with plenty of breaks and lots of good food.
Today Lisa, who is Chinese, taught me how to make traditional Chinese dumplings.
Lisa is from North China so the style of dumplings she makes is slightly different to that of Southern China which are used more at Yum Cha. The ingredients within dumplings vary within different areas of China too, Southern Chinese dumplings are often filled with seafood as they are closer to the ocean. Whereas Northern Chinese dumplings are more often filled with minced meat. Dumplings are eaten for celebrations, and part of the celebration is making them. However some families such as Lisa’s, eat them 3-4 times per week. An average serving of dumplings for 4 people is 100 dumplings. My understanding of dumplings was to eat them on the side of other dishes but they are also eaten as mains, which is what we did… Lots and lots of delicious dumplings!!
For proportions, we used 300grams Mince, but Lisa said it depends how much you want to make. With the batter she didn’t measure the amount of flour she used, sometimes she uses 1 egg, sometimes 2 eggs, but says it doesn’t make much difference.
Grate onion x2
Finely chop cabbage
Batter: 4 cups flour
Chilli Oil: Oil, garlic, pepper, red pepper, Chinese pepper (or mixed pepper) and sesame
1 Tbs vinegar
2 Tbs soy sauce
Mix mince, finely chopped garlic and ginger, spring onion, add oil and soy sauce. Mix well. Grate carrot, onion and finely chop cabbage. Add to the mince mixture and mix, add a dash of sugar and plenty of salt.
Put to one side.
To make the dough mix flour, egg and a dash of water.
Use your hands and slowly add water until you have a dough.
Knead the dough well. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes. Knead again.
Keep going until you have a smooth elastic consistency.
Split into three small balls of dough.
Starting with one, squeeze from the middle to form a tyre. Break the tyre and roll out into a long snake, add flour, roll.
Using the index finger and thumb rip off one centimetres bits.
Flatten out using your hand into small flat discs, making sure to put the broken edge up. This is done only to ensure when it is rolled out it is the right way so will form a circle properly.
One at a time, roll out each disc using your hands to guide the dough to form a thin circular large disc. Roll the rolling pin inwards, leaving the thickest part of the dough in the centre so it will not split when filling. This part is the hardest!
To fill the dumplings there are two methods. Hold the thin disc, place a small teaspoon of mixture in the centre of the disc, for the first method: fold over, pinch all along the edge, then using both hands push thumbs together sandwiching the dumpling between your two thumbs, pushing on the outer edge to secure it. The second method is easier but is seen as not as professional, you fold over half the disc, pinch the top, then pinch two pleats on either side.
By now you will have some understanding of how time consuming it is to make dumplings.
The first method of filling the dumplings is best cooked by grilling them in a pan. Put oil in the pan, fill the pan with circular placement of the dumplings, and pour enough water in so that the water comes up to the dumplings side. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes. To know when they are cooked they will fatten slightly showing the water running through them and the bottoms will be browned.
The second method of filling is best cooked by boiling them. Place the dumplings in a large pot of water. Once the water is boiled, add one cup of cold water and stir. Once the water boils again, put one cup of cold water in and stir, when the water boils for the THIRD time, they are ready.
To accompany the dumplings, mix all sauce ingredients together and place in side dish for dipping.