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Monday, September 8, 2008

Steamed Pork and Cabbage Dumplings

I have a really bad habit of not reading recipes all the way through before deciding what I am going to make for dinner. Usually I just read through the ingredient list, make sure I have everything (although I have gone wrong here as well) and dive in. Most of the time this works out fine, sometimes we don't eat dinner until 10pm! Last night I picked up my second to last share of the season from our Calypso Farm CSA. There was a lovely head of romanesco along with a nice bunch of cilantro in our share.

Even thought we just had Cilantro Noodle Bowls for dinner last week, I decided to make this recipe again. I actually served the dish warm this week and cooked the romanesco a little longer than the recipe recommended. It was really yummy last week, but this week I thought it was even better. I also tossed in some radish greens with the romanesco, mostly because they were there, but it added a nice flavor.

It was the second part of our dinner that I got in a little over my head. I have been wanting to make potstickers or pork dumplings for a while and I thought I would give it a go. Let's just say that I missed the part in the recipe about letting the cabbage sit for 1/2 hour and the part about letting the filling chill for 1/2 hour. So, I skipped that whole part altogether and just pushed on. The only thing I couldn't figure out is why I had so much extra filling. I made 18 dumplings and it barely made a dent in the bowl of filling. The dog still ended up eating 6 of the dumplings. In any case I actually read the recipe afterward and discovered that if you use wonton wrappers (which I did) the recipe makes 40 dumplings. I also found out that you can freeze them and cook them up later. So, I will make the rest of the dumplings tomorrow after work (the filling will be nice and chilled by then) and freeze them. In the end with all my errors they still turned out really well and actually looked like real steamed dumplings. I loved the fresh ginger flavor. These may be the best steamed dumplings I have ever eaten. The sauce (bottom of page)also has a really good flavor and I highly recommend you use the chili oil.The recipe came from the recent Cook's Illustrated Specialty publication, Fall Entertaining. One last note: I steamed the dumplings on a rack in a roasting pan. I don't really like them browned.

3 cups minced napa cabbage leaves (about 1/2 medium head)
3/4 teaspoon table salt

3/4 pound ground pork
4 minced scallions (about 6 tablespoons)
2 egg whites , lightly beaten
4 teaspoons soy sauce

1 1/2 teaspoons minced or grated fresh ginger
1 medium garlic clove , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 teaspoon)
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

24 round gyoza or wonton wrappers
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup water , plus extra for brushing

1. For the filling:: Toss cabbage with the salt in colander set over a bowl and let stand until cabbage begins to wilt, about 20 minutes. Press the cabbage gently with rubber spatula to squeeze out any excess moisture, the transfer to a medium bowl. Add the remaining filling ingredients and mix thoroughly to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until mixture is cold, at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.
2. For the dumplings: Working with 4 wrappers at a time (keep the remaining wrappers covered with plastic wrap), follow the photos below to fill, seal, and shape the dumplings using a generous 1 teaspoon of the chilled filling per dumpling. Transfer the dumplings to a baking sheet and repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling; you should have about 24 dumplings. (The dumplings can be wrapped tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 1 day, or frozen for up to 1 month. Once frozen, the dumplings can be transferred to a zipper-lock bag to save space in the freezer; do not thaw before cooking.)
3. Line a large plate with a double layer of paper towels; set aside. Brush 1 tablespoon of the oil over the bottom of a 12-inch nonstick skillet and arrange half of the dumplings in the skillet, with a flat side facing down (overlapping just slightly if necessary). Place the skillet over medium-high heat and cook the dumplings, without moving, until golden brown on the bottom, about 5 minutes.
4. Reduce the heat to low, add 1⁄2 cup of the water, and cover immediately. Continue to cook, covered, until most of the water is absorbed and the wrappers are slightly translucent, about 10 minutes. Uncover the skillet, increase the heat to medium-high, and continue to cook, without stirring, until the dumpling bottoms are well browned and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes more. Slide the dumplings onto the paper towel-lined plate, browned side facing down, and let drain briefly. Transfer the dumplings to a serving platter and serve with scallion dipping sauce (see related recipe). Let the skillet cool until just warm, then wipe it clean with a wad of paper towels and repeat step 3 with the remaining dumplings, oil, and water.

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons water

1 teaspoon chili oil (optional)
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 medium scallion , white and green parts, minced

Combine all ingredients in bowl and serve.

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