In preparation for CNY, I made a huge batch of veggie dumplings last week (so I don't have to go through the trouble this weekend). As you may or may not know, although we eat dumplings year-round since they're awesome, dumplings are also a traditional food item eaten during the new year, since they look kinda like ancient Chinese money and symbolize good fortune:
The batch yielded around 65 dumplings, all of which are currently sitting in my freezer. Thought I'd do a photo-tutorial of the process.
First gather your ingredients. Everything was found very easily at my local Asian supermarket. Again, these are veggie dumplings, so the filling is made of:
2 eggs (not pictured)
Soy sauce/oyster sauce (my mom bought me vegetarian oyster sauce!)/sesame oil
The dumpling skins were hand-made too (just flour and water), although a package of premade skins are pretty cheap at about $2 for a package of 30. But Colin insists that the homemade wrappers taste better, so homemade it is.
Both the vermicell noodles and shiitake mushrooms will need to be hydrated. The vermicelli noodles only need to soak in hot water for about 10-15 minutes before they're ready for use, but I soaked the shiitake mushrooms in water overnight.
Tofu's a blank canvas- you can flavor it with anything and it soaks it right up. If your tofu's bland, then that's your own damn fault.
Additionally, I wanted to get as much water out of the bok choy as possible, so I cut it up, lightly salted it, and let it drain water in a colander overnight.
Chop up the mushrooms (squeeze out the excess water), chop up the vermicelli noodles, and combine ALL ingredients in a large bowl.
I added the two eggs (for even more help in binding everything together) and more soy sauce/salt/oyster sauce) at the very end.
Then I made some dough for the actual skins. It's not very hard-- just 2 cups of flour, and hot water. I didn't measure the amount of water used. Just add in water slowly and gradually as you see fit until you get the right doughy consistency. I think it was probably 1 part water to 2 parts flour.
Then, have your dumpling folding area ready.
Have your dumpling filling, your dough for the skins, extra flour to prevent sticking, a rolling pin, a small bowl of water, and some sort of tray to put your dumplings on.
Here's where it gets a bit messy and I stopped taking pictures. Put a good amount of filling in the center of the skin, dip a finger into your bowl of water, and wet down the edge of half of the skin. Then wrap the dumpling up! This video tutorial is really good.
And there you have it.
With next weekend being a long weekend (woohoo President's Day!) I plan on picking up some ingredients for pork & chive dumplings. We've made pork & napa cabbage dumplings before, so the process shouldn't be too different. It'll be less prep work than the veggie dumplings, actually, since the filling will be just combining seasoning, ground pork, and chives/ginger/garlic. Easy peasy. This recipe and its user-suggested substitutions looks really sound.
Additionally, I've also recently been craving turnip cake (luo bo gao), a common dim sum dish. Don't let the name "cake" fool you-- rice cakes can both be sweet and savory, and this stuff savory and not cake-like in the Western sense. Turnip cakes- as a rule, it seems- always have bits of pork/bacon or shrimp in them, so I usually go to Buddha Bodai (there's a location in Manhattan Chinatown too) to get my fix.
Since both Flushing and Chinatown can be a bit of a hike for me now (but I'll still travel for food), I tried my making my own. It was successful, actually really easy, and vegetarian-- just used a huge daikon and a bunch of shiitake mushrooms.
Since Colin won't be around for Chinese New Year OR Valentine's Day this year, we're postponing. I did a quick drawing for him yesterday:
He sends me food pics from abroad too: