Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Ugly Dumpling and Other Children's Tales

The poor dumpling pictured above wasn't even the first dumpling I tried making (it was the second), but it was the first I tried pleating. I did manage to get much more decent at the pleating after a number of them. My single pleat (largely for speed's sake; making dumplings is rather time consuming) ones are pictured below.

Ahh, 水餃/鍋貼 (shui jiao/guo tie; dumplings/potstickers; a.k.a. 餃子,ギョウザ (gyoza) in Japan for potstickers (I'm not sure if/what they call the boiled version, which is shui jiao in Chinese). Machine made frozen dumplings are easy enough to buy at Asian groceries or even Costco. However, they are vastly inferior to handmade dumplings. In cities with large Chinese populations, there are always people who sell their own handmade dumplings. I'm not sure about the DC area, though...might have seen some at the Great Wall supermarket, though I was skeptical as the good ones my parents would buy were ordered from specific people rather than picked up at a grocery store.

In any case, I finally decided to give making my own a go--minus making my own dumpling skins. Doing that would decrease the deliciousness/work ratio too far for me to do it. This recipe, from The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook, was pretty standard issue and tasty. Pork, green onions, cabbage, ginger, seasoning. I have to say, though, that the pre-made dumpling skins were a little stiff to work with and definitely too thin for both potstickers and dumplings (potstickers can be thicker skinned and dumplings thinner). And I didn't accidentally pick up wonton skins. I guess for the rest of the batch, which I froze, I'll just have to make 餛飩湯 wonton soup. Which, actually, is nice since I haven't made that before, either. Or dumpling soup.

Ready to start wrapping

These ones are ready to cook

Skin's too thin, but otherwise tasty dumplings

A final thought: I don't like chili oil. I tried including it in my dipping sauce mixture this time (soy sauce, a little vinegar and sesame oil, garlic and green onion if you want to put in the extra effort), and it's just really strong and unpleasant a flavor to me.

[musing: I've noticed that an important element of the prettiness in food photos is in the vessels and other background elements (besides, of course, the composition, lighting, etc.). I suppose if I wanted to improve my food photography, that's one area I could invest in. Having more things would also allow more visual choices. But meh, for another time and when I actually have the money to buy more of my own kitchenware.]

1 comment:

  1. Don't underestimate your dumpling folding skillz - your pleats are very nice! They certainly beat the triangular monstrosities into which my dumplings evolve under my fingers. Your last picture is beautiful! I think your photography skills are already fantastic. Looking forward to the next escapade!