Booooring! (I’m singing that word right now.) Tapping my feet, sitting behind my computer singing boring…BoRING….Booooring.
I wrote two blogs this morning and I reread them both and just shook my head. Oh my…not good. Yawn. They were VERY informative but as much fun as watching paint dry.
The problem was that I couldn’t complete a thought. I would start writing and then Google something completely irrelevant. (Example…did you know they still sell Pet Rocks? Sadly, this info byte is more interesting that what I was initially writing.)
I was persistent and kept writing until I got a text from a friend. I had to read it because who knows if it was an emergency or not. (It wasn’t.) This distracted me enough on my phone that I looked at the weather (cold), Facebook posts (oh look another person using phone filters to look like a reindeer) and play a game (or two or three or twelve) of solitaire. What is my problem? (That is a rhetorical question.)
I was TRYING to find a fun way to post about Asian Dumplings because I’ve been playing around with them this past week. Why can’t I focus?? There is so much information about the techniques and flavors that I really couldn’t find a place to start and actually make it interesting. (And for those of you who are saying…”Barb that never stopped you before”….well…that is true!)
I spent more hours than I want to admit reading books that are on my shelves about one of my favorite foods. There are so many traditions and ways to make a good Asian dumpling. I wanted to do them justice but I really also just wanted to have a go to recipe for a good dumping!!! (This is where contentment and complacency intersect!)
My first step (after ditching those other posts) was to look at what I was really craving. It is cold out and I wanted a simple Asian soup with a few nice plump dumplings….that is it. (There is a popular restaurant chain that does a wonton soup bowl that is great for cold winter days….except it is so salty….really salty…I know this because I Goggled the sodium content when I was trying to write this blog.)
I knew if I just seasoned up a commercial vegetable broth with some ginger, a splash of soy and some garlic, I’d get the same effect without the puffiness. (Puffiness is only good in winter coats and then it is cool to be puffy!)
So I went to the store and bought the necessities….wonton wrappers, ground pork, fresh ginger and bag of white peppermint Hershey’s kisses. (The kisses have nothing to do with what I’m trying to accomplish, I just like them.)
I laid out all my ingredients, got a broth cooking on the stove and my bamboo steamer ready to go. (If you don’t have a bamboo steamer, try using a metal steamer. Remember to put some parchment or cabbage leaves on the bottom so the dumplings don’t stick.)
The big key I read on filling success was not to over mix your meat filling. You aren’t making a meat loaf or meatball; you are essentially just seasoning the meat. If you mash it all up, it becomes almost grainy when steamed. I followed the recommendation of mixing it gently with chopsticks and it worked beautifully!
With the music playing (because I always have it playing in the kitchen), I rhythmically put the filling into each wrapper and steamed away. I made waaaaay more dumplings than I needed for a couple of bowls of soup so I laid the extra (unsteamed) on some parchment and froze them for a later day.
If you’ve never filled wonton wrappers it is really simple to do….you take your wonton square (find them in the produce section), moisten the edges with water and put a small dollop of meat in the center. Pull two of the opposite corners up so you make a triangle and pinch it off on the edges. Make sure there aren’t any openings or you may lose some filling.
It takes a couple of wrappers before you perfect the ratio of filling to wrapper but you’ll get the hang of it. The key is don’t give up or get frustrated and toss a half filled dumping across the room. Besides the fact it makes you look like a big baby, it is really hard to get out of the kitchen vent if you aim wrong. (Not that this happened to me…)
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1 inch nub of fresh ginger, finely chopped
- 1 Tbsp Soy Sauce (low sodium)
- 2 tsp rice vinegar
- 1/2 pound ground pork
- 1 tsp soy sauce (low sodium)
- 1 green onion, finely chopped
- shake of white pepper
- 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 1 inch of ginger, grated
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- Package of square wonton wrappers (Made about 20 and used 5 in each bowl)
- Soup Ingredients
- A handful of thinly sliced spinach
- Sesame seeds
- Dash of sesame oil
- Slices of limes
- In medium saucepan, add the broth, soy sauce, ginger and vinegar. Simmer over medium low heat.
- If it tastes abundantly salty, add a little water to dilute it. I use a vegetable broth that is low sodium but I have made this with chicken broth and had to dilute it a little with a cup of water.
- Meanwhile, mix the pork, ginger, garlic, soy, green onion and pepper…gently…with chopsticks if you have them…until it is just combined.
- Get your steamer basket over a pot of boiling water.
- Do a couple of wontons at a time.
- Wet the edges and fill each wonton with a heaping teaspoon of the mix.
- Fold up one of the opposite corners so you make a triangle.
- Pinch around edges to make sure it is sealed.
- Place some in the steamer (covered) for about 6 minutes. DO NOT OVERCROWD THEM.
- While they are cooking get your serving bowls ready.
- I put a handful of chopped spinach in each bowl and ladle into the bowls.
- Add 4-5 pork dumplings in a bigger bowl (or 2-3 in a smaller bowl), a shake of sesame seeds, a dash of sesame oil and a squeeze of a slice of lime.
After this experience, I’ve been reading a lot about more techniques and variances in the Asian dumpling world. I will probably write more about them this winter and hopefully it won’t be boring.