The last Oriental snack I made contained minced pork fat, an ingredient I'd always omitted when following recipes that contained it. The result was a revelation, transforming prawn filled spring rolls from plain tasty to ridiculously tasty, holding the filling together and lubricating from within. Another ingredient I'd seen and omitted in dumpling recipes was jellied stock and I decided to have a go and see if it was as dumpling-changing as the fat. Whilst it wasn't quite such an epiphany it definitely works and I'll be looking to use it again in the future.
The aim of this ingredient is to get moisture into the dumpling and the extreme example is the xiao long bao, where soup can be far more prominent than any solid filling. You don't have to go to such extremes though and in small amounts it adds flavoursome moisture. By jellying the stock you can work with it, combining it with other ingredients and getting it into a wrapper, something that would be impossible with a liquid stock. Come cooking the gelatine melts and, assuming you've sealed them properly, you're left with liquid filled dumplings. The fine circular folding of the xiao long bao is notoriously hard to achieve, especially with my chunky man-fingers, so for first attempts I went for the potsticker-style, something I can just about manage to turn out - despite my larger digits.
The addition of dried shrimps is an attempt to replicate a pork and dried shrimp baozi which I had in Beijing, a steamed bun that itself was dripping with juices when you bit into it. The saltiness of the shrimp works fantastically with the pork and adds a deep savouriness to the soup, which itself has a slimely good mouthfeel from the gelatine.
Soupy Pork and Dried Shrimp Potstickers
Makes maybe 20-25
250gr minced pork
3 TB dried shrimp, roughly chopped
200ml of pork or chicken stock that sets
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1 TB light soy
1 ts sesame oil
Big pinch of white pepper
1 ts rice wine
Pinch of salt, careful though as the shrimp and soy are salty
300gr dumpling flour (or half and half plain and strong flour)
75gr boiling water
75gr cold water
Pinch of salt
First off make the dumpling skins, as these need to rest for an hour. Mix the cold and boiling water together and add to the flour and salt. Knead till smooth then cover in clingfilm and leave to rest for an hour.
For the filling mix everything except the stock till well combined. Cut the stock into 1cm cubes and then add to the filling. Working quickly squash everything through your fingers till combined, the stock will break down a bit but should stay in reasonable sized lumps. Stick the bowl back in the fridge so it doesn't warm up and the stock melt.
On a floured surface roll the dough into a 2.5cm diameter sausage (it may be easier to split and do this twice, covering the second half until you're ready so it doesn't dry out) then cut into 1cm thick slices. Roll each out till thin and about 7cm diameter.
Take a skin, place a teaspoon or so of the filling in the middle, pinch the edges together to seal in the middle then pleat each side, starting from the middle and working out. When you pleat do not stretch the dough into the pleat, if you fold it rather than stretching you will form a nice crescent shape. I normally manage three or four pleats per side, whilst doing this try and keep air out of the dumpling.
Two cook heat a little oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Place the dumplings in flat side down and fry for 3 minutes. Add half a cup of water to the plan, place a lid on top and steam for another 3 minutes. Now remove the lid and give 2 more minutes cooking until the water has evaporated.
Serve with whatever dipping sauce you want. My favourite is black vinegar with julienne ginger in but chili oil, soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce all work well too.