As we start another year filled with bright eyed enthusiasm, have you set any goals? Usually they are based on growth and living a better quality of life. These resolutions are meant to be inspiring, motivating and challenging.
The perfect resolution also has to be one thing…. attainable! If it is not a reasonable objective, your commitment can seem more like a dream than a reality. My resolutions of the past should have been called delusions because they were far from accessible. (Things like becoming a princess or growing taller weren’t ever going to happen.)
It should come as no surprise that as a food blogger, I would have some sort of cooking achievement as part of my new year’s goals.
Allowing myself to get caught up in the semantics creates another level of challenge. If I say it is a specific dish, I have to keep every aspect authentic as possible or it doesn’t count, right? I tend to not give myself credit for the food I serve if it isn’t absolutely textbook perfect.
The biggest issue recently is with dumplings. (And I’m using the word dumpling as an umbrella to cover the vast array of fabulous dumplings found all over the world.) I can make a mean dumpling, but does it count if it doesn’t check all the boxes? It depends on who you ask.
I tend to go down the rabbit hole of what is “real” instead of enjoying the process. Cooking is not only about the respecting the food history but creating something you are proud of on your plate.
Realistically, there are goals that won’t be met this year. Sometimes the process of learning is the achievement. An example is the recipe for pork dumplings below. There is nothing like methodically folding 30 plus dumplings to make you feel like you are unstoppable. Understanding that there is joy in the method may be all you need to pull yourself into good habits for the rest of the year.
New Year Pork Dumplings
Scroll down for a printable version of this recipe
Makes about 30, feeds about 6
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 6 minutes
Inactive time: 30 minutes
1 pound ground pork
2 green onions, chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh chopped ginger
1 Tablespoon fresh chopped garlic (I love garlic so feel free to reduce this amount.)
1 teaspoon of black vinegar (or rice vinegar)
1 Tablespoon of soy (ponzu or liquid aminos can be used)
1 package of wonton wrappers (I wanted gyoza wrappers but this was all I could find in my area)
1. Add all of the ingredients except sesame oil and wonton wrappers to a medium bowl.
2. Stir gently until the meat feels sticky. I’ve read that you should stir in one direction with chopsticks. This takes a few go arounds to incorporate everything but it isn’t cake batter so it is okay if it isn’t smooth. Keep remembering it must be sticky to get the perfect dumpling texture when it is cooking. (The science behind the meat texture in a dumpling is another blog!)
3. Cover the bowl and allow to chill for at least 20-30 minutes.
4. While the filling is chilling, make the dipping sauces. I usually like black vinegar with slivers of ginger or a simple mixture of 2 Tablespoons of soy sauce, 1 Tablespoon rice vinegar, a splash of sesame oil and 1 teaspoon of fresh ginger.
Pro tip: Before you get overzealous and start filling the wrappers do this one thing… take out a nonstick skillet and cook a small patty of your meat filling. This is your chance to adjust your seasoning. I like to cook mine and dip it into a little of my prepared sauce so I really get a taste of what my flavors are together. You may want to add more onion or ginger. It is an easy step that can make or break a batch of dumplings.
Another pro tip: Dumpling wrappers get really dry fast so don’t lay them all out at once. Keep the ones you are not working with covered.
5. To fill the dumplings, add a tablespoon of filling to the middle of the wrapper.
6. Lightly rub the edges of the dumpling wrapper with water. (This is your glue… but you don’t want too much.)
7. Fold one corner to the other.
Pro tip: Use caution as you pull your edges together because tears can happen easily. This is where you can get creative and make more of a “bishop” hat fold to cover your boo-boo.
Another pro tip: As you are folding, start cooking batches of dumplings. Because you are multitasking, I recommend doing a test run with a few of the dumplings.
10. Heat a medium nonstick over medium heat and brush it with sesame oil. Gently add the dumplings one by one to the pan.
11. Mine took about 3 minutes to achieve a nice brown bottom. To finish cooking, put a lid on the pan and left a crack off the side so it's still open. Pour a few tablespoons of water so they go down the side of the pan and drizzled into the pan. By doing this, you won’t get the oil versus water splatter. This method contains the mess and eliminates any concern for getting a burn.
12. After the water is added, you can move the lid to completely cover the pan. Steam for another 2-3 minutes.
13, Continue to form and cook the dumplings in batches until you have used up all your fillings and wrappers. Serve immediately with the dipping sauce.
Don’t be afraid to play around with the shape. The rectangle-shaped dumplings cooked exactly the same.
Do you have more questions? We have two upcoming virtual classes that cover dumplings:
- Virtual Cook Along: Asian Dumpling Workshop on Sunday, January 30 at 3pm CST
- Virtual Chinese New Year on Friday, January 28 at 6:15pm CST
And if you try to make these dumplings this week, join The Chopping Block's private Facebook group and share a picture to participate in this week's cooking challenge featuring pork.