Dumplings are one of my favourite dishes when it comes to Asian cuisine. Especially steamed ones, with their silky texture and tender filling, they are a real feast for my tongue. Looking around on the internet, it seems that preparing these little balls of flavour is easier than I thought it could be. So here I am giving them a go!
I found the recipe for the dough on Chowhound, showing both methods by hand and with the food processor, and I decided to try the hand one. The recipe requires 10 US ounces (approximately 285g) of plain flour and 3/4 US cup (approximately 175ml) of boiling water. I halved the amounts since it was a tryout.
I post here the method that I followed, as stated on the website:
To make the dough by hand. Put a bowl atop a kitchen towel to prevent it from slipping while you work. Put the flour in the bowl and make a well in the center. Use a wooden spoon or bamboo rice paddle to stir the flour while you add 3/4 cup water in a steady stream. Aim to evenly moisten the flour. It is okay to pause to stir or add water—it is hard to simultaneously do both actions. When all the water has been added, you will have lots of lumpy bits. Knead the dough in the bowl (it is not terribly hot) to bring all the lumps into one mass; if the dough does not come together easily, add water by the teaspoon.
Transfer the dough and any bits to a work surface; flour your work surface only if necessary, and then sparingly. Knead the dough (it is not hot) with the heel of your hand for about about 2 minutes. The result should be nearly smooth and somewhat elastic; press on the dough; it should slowly bounce back, with a light impression of your finger remaining. Place the dough in a zip-top plastic bag and seal tightly closed, expelling excess air. Set aside to rest at room temperature for at least 15 minutes and up to 2 hours. The dough will steam up the plastic bag and become earlobe soft, which makes wrappers easy to work with.
After resting, the dough can be used right away to form the wrappers. Or, refrigerate it overnight and returned it to room temperature before using.
For the filling, I used some chicken breasts with a chilli, ginger and lemongrass butter I bought in Lidl. Instead of following the pack instructions (grill the breasts and serve them with the butter spread on top), I chose to slow cook them in a broth made with the melted butter, a cup of boiling water and a pinch of salt. In this way, they became so tender I could shred and use them to fill the dumplings.
- One note though. I didn’t add any fat to the chicken apart from the seasoned butter used to prepare the stock, so the filling was a bit dry, even after cooking. Next time I think I’ll cook the chicken in simple stock, and I’ll add the butter afterwards to keep it softer.
To prepare the dumplings, simply cut a small portion of the dough, roll it in you hands and then flatten it with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface. I should be quite thin, otherwise the resulting dumping will be too stodgy and it’ll take ages to steam. Add a small amount of the filling, fold it in half and press the rim with your finger to stick the two sides together.
Luckily, I had a bamboo steamer (kindly left to us by a friend), so I could cook the dumplings the “original” style. But a conventional steamer will do the job as well. Just remember to line the bottom with parchment paper or cabbage leaves to prevent the dumplings to stick to it.
Steam for 15-20 minutes (according to the thickness of the dough) until the surface becomes translucent, take out of the steamer and serve with soy sauce or dumpling vinegar.