It's only been a few weeks since the new year started, but to be honest, it feels like months have gone by. I love new beginnings and special holidays with family, so I feel sort of nostalgic for the holiday just past. Lucky for me, I celebrate four new year holidays each year, and each in a different way: Western New Year, Chinese New Year, Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) and my birthday (personal new year). Chinese New Year is coming up later this month, and I am working on a post about Mochi sweets which are traditionally eaten on this holiday, but to start getting you inspired for this holiday, I thought I'd include this post about homemade dumplings, which we sometimes make for Chinese New Year, Western New Year...or just for a fun dinner.
The dumpling "skins" or dough (bottom right above) can be found at any asian market, but often in a good regular grocery store at the end of the produce isle, near the tofu. You can fill these with whatever finely chopped ingredients you like, tofu, vegetables, meat and add some garlic, scallion, grated ginger, salt or spices. Steam boil or pan fry and your are done.
It's a bit of a messy project, but great fun for kids or a party night with friends. One of my favorite kids books describes family dumpling making, Mochi, and New Year in the most wonderful way "Dumpling Soup" is well worth the read!
I don't really use a recipe when I make dumplings. I toss together different ingredients that I might have in the fridge and season as I said above with garlic, ginger, salt and spices. The typical fillings I use are: tofu (pressed and crumbled), scallion, blanched mung bean sprouts, finely chopped mushrooms, or shredded carrot. Traditionally, the dumplings are made with pork, if you'd like you can use any ground meat, season it well, and fill dumplings with a small spoonful in the middle, use your finger to wet the edge of the dough with water, hold the dough in half and pinch it tightly closed, overlapping the seam as you go. If that is too complicated, you can just fold them in half and pinch the edges together.
Once you have made a batch of dumplings, you can steam, boil or fry them. I served these up with some sautéed pea greens from the Asian Market, totally out of season for the north-east in the winter, but a joy to eat, and a great way to start another new year.
Here are some links to some traditional dumpling recipes:
Homemade Chinese Dumplings - Jiao Zi - This has great photos to show how to pinch the dumplings closed.
For dipping, you can buy a "dumpling dipping sauce" or make your own by mixing: 2 crushed cloves of garlic, 3 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 tablespoons Chinese rice vinegar, 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil, 1 teaspoon hot chili oil (or other hot sauce)
Beyond this, get creative: sweet, savory, curry, sweet potato, banana and chocolate..... whatever your heart desires.
UPDATE 1/29/14: Check out my friend and cousin, Nadine Nelson of Global Local Gourmet demonstrating how to make delicious Golden Chicken Spring Rolls.
So, are you going to make some dumplings...or did this scare you off
and you're headed to the store to just buy some?