Friday, August 11, 2006

Dumplings!



Inspired by J's blog Kuidore and my own cravings, I decided to tackle the whole dumpling making process again. Again? I'd made a few dumplings a couple of years ago while in culinary school. I made a chocolate dough with some fruit filling for my final practical, but that's another story. I mentioned it just to say that even though I'd made them once before, I was still intimidated by the process. But, emboldened by mouth-watering photos, descriptions and hunger, I tried again.

For my filling, I made a nice little list and went to the store (late, I might add) and was not happy with the produce at the only store open at night. But, determined to have something to eat, I made do with what I could find: bok choy, cabbage, green onions (the leeks looked horrible), carrots, and garlic. I washed, chopped, and grated until I had enough, I thought, to make just a few for experimentation, intending to make only 16 dumplings. Being raised in my mother's kitchen, I didn't measure anything, just gauged the proportion of everything. I pulled my wok off of the hook on the wall, dusted it, heated it up and proceeded to stir fry my veggies. I added soy sauce and rice vinegar at the end (also removing my nice "early" seasoning) and hoped for the best. The filling was really good, but I wasn't done yet, I had to tackle making the dough.

My first attempt at was not successful; though I used the amount of water suggested a dough did not form. I though perhaps I should measure it after boiling because of the amount of water lost in evaporation. Well, let's just say that I ended up going by instinct. Because flour is affected by humidity, one day and in one city you may use more or less water than in another city or on another day. I added enough off the boil water to make the dough and kneaded and kneaded until I thought it was pliable enough. It's funny how when you haven't made dough in a while, you are back at square one, wondering if you did it right and when will it look like it's supposed to look.

Well, waiting for the dough to rest 20 minutes, I rechecked my internet sources, just in case. I was fortunate in that I found my little rolling pin that came with my gumpaste flower kit, and rummaged through my Rubbermaid tub filled with kitchen stuff to find my round cutters. So far everything was working in my favor. When I returned to my ball of dough, magically, it turned out well. Nice and supple, not too dry, not too wet. I rolled it out into a nice little log and started sectioning it out. It didn't need a lot of extra flour and cut beautifully. I rolled each section into a ball before flattening it and then rolling it out. I remember my friend telling me that you roll the edges thinner than the center. I tried to keep this in mind as I rolled, cut, and then filled and pinched each dumpling closed. I must tell you that through this process, my excitement grew until I had 16 really cute, ok, beautiful dumplings lined up on my half sheet pan. I was like a proud mother watching my line grow. I put most of them in the freezer, and cooked 5. I still have 2 sitting in front of me, not because they're not great tasting, but because this typing and editing is slowing me down. I am rather proud of myself.

I tried to photograph the process, but not only did my camera tell me that my batteries were running low, I also discovered that I really need another person around to document the process. So maybe I'll make some for a friend and have them take the pictures.

Well, I should finish eating these two dumplings and go to bed. After all, it is almost 5 in the morning!

P. S. I visited a couple of pastry shops the other day. I took some pics of the desserts, but I didn't like how they turned out. So, I'll have to hold off eating the yummy pastries so I can retake the photos, and post about all of that later this weekend.

2 comments:

Jasmine said...

Hi Mochene

I know what you mean about late night grocers. We have one 24-hr chain in town and the night produce can be scary (mind you, the day produce is also scary).

I should try making veg dumplings...I usually make pork ones.

j

Mochene said...

Jas- I think that when I try to make them again, I'll use a cold water dough. I have plenty in my freezer, so that won't be for a while.