Many cultures have their own variation of dumplings. The Polish have pierogis, those from Georgia-the country eat khinkali daily, while the Iraqi are more familiar with kubbeh. Pierogis are made from unleavened dough and often stuffed with potato filling, sauerkraut, ground meat, cheese and/or fruit. Khinkali has different variations spreading across the Caucasus, with various filling composed of spiced meat, beef and/or lamb and include herbs, onions, garlic, mushrooms, potatoes or cheese. Kubbeh is made of burghul (cracked wheat), minced onions, goat, lamb, ground lean beef or camel meat.
While the “fillings” of these dumplings might differ from the regionally available products, do you see any similarities in these tasty foods? Pierogis, khankhali and kubbeh can all be classised as dumplings as they are made from dough and are either cooked alone or wrapped around a filling. Dumplings are great way to add in a variety of flavors from herbs, spices and vegetables! There’s not a “wrong” and “right” way to make dumplings–as evidenced by the thousands of variations across the world.
For me, dumplings are associated with a specific Chinese cook, Sharon Quan (pronounced Kwon). Both my parents attended Sharon’s cooking classes before they adopted me. Once I was old enough, I attended Sharon’s cooking classes with my dad. Not only were these classes a way to better learn tradtional Chinese cooking methods, but a great way to understand “why” foods are prepared the way they are. I have memories growing up helping my dad fold and make dumplings. We’d make several batches, freezing at least half so we’d have some always on hand!
Today, I’ve shared Sharon Quan’s dim sum recipe. Dim sum is a style of Cantonese cuisine that’s prepared as small bite sized pieces of food, often served in a small steamer basket or plate.
Sharon Quan’s Dim Sum
A.3/4 cup pork cut into small cubes
1 piece chinese sausage cut into small pieces
6 whole medium size dry mushrooms, soak til soft, cut small pieces
B. 1/4 cup fresh water chestnuts, peeled, crush with flat side of cleaver
C. 1 Tablespoon thin soy sauce
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons corn starch
D. 1 pound med size shrimp (about 40)
E. 40 thin won ton wrappers
F. Mix soy sauce and sesame oil for dipping
G. Wax paper to line steamer
Step 1:Shell shrimp but leave tail and last section intact. Cut open shrimp from the back. Wash and devein, pat dry, set aside for later use.
Step 2: Chop group A until very fine. Add fresh water chestnut, mix together; add group C. Mix in the chopped meat. Mix well.
Step 3:Line steamer with wax paper and brush with oil.
Step 4:make the shui-mi, dumpling: Place sheet of wonton ski on your palm; put about 1 teaspoon meat mixture in the middle of the skin. Add 1 shrimp to the top of meat with the tail up. Gather edges of the skin together around the tail of the shrimp. Place shui-mmi into the steamer open the tail like a fan. Steam all for 20-25 minutes.
Serve with group F
If you’re not familiar with Asian cooking, there’s a lot of chopping and prep that goes into a meal. So you’re forewarned! With that said, I hope you do venture and try this recipe and/or let me know your own version of dumplings. Do you have a favorite dipping sauce or way to prepare them? Please share!