This recipe is a turning point for me. Up until now I had always made my own dumpling skins, I thought I was trying to make my dumplings the best I could but, as Meemalee pointed out, I think it was just machismo - or possibly masochism. Now I've bought a pack and enjoyed the greatly reduced preparation time and the result I will be macho no more. If pre-made skins fit the job then pre-made skins it shall be.
This recipe is lifted from a book I bought it China. Normally I'd painstakingly translate with a dictionary but I really couldn't be arsed so turned to twitter where Lizzie of Hollow Legs fame, well Lizzie's mum anyway, came to the rescue - thank you. The beauty of my Chinese cookbooks, outside of being rammed with the most weird and wonderful recipes that you just don't see in English language Chinese cookbooks, is they frequently don't have any quantities for ingredients so you have to play around with amounts until the dish is to your taste - gone is blindly following a teaspoon here, 100gr there. With this in mind I don't feel at all bad claiming this recipe as my own.
Sichuan crescent dumplings are frequently quite bland, flavoured only with a little salt and ginger juice, with the finished dishes deriving their taste from punchy sauces, whether that is chili oil or strange-flavoured (that's a real thing, honest).
Here the dumplings themselves are rammed with flavour though - Chinese chives are a common ingredient but this is the first time I've seen Sichuan preserved vegetable in a dumpling. It works wonders too, the slightly pickled bite cutting through the pork and the chili from the preservation process adding welcome heat. It's not only for flavour either, it adds squeaky crunch to an otherwise soft filling.
I love the re-hydrating effect of a bowl of soupy dumplings and here the seaweed adds a lovely savoury note, reminiscent of a breakfast miso. If you prefer it the dumplings would be more than acceptable dry though, with maybe a little chili oil for added warmth.
Sichuan Crescent Dumplings with Seaweed Broth
2 as meal, more if sharing dishes
1 pack of dumpling skins, mine had 20 in which was perfect
200gr minced pork, not too lean
50gr of Chinese chives, finely sliced
35gr Sichuan preserved vegetable, rinsed and finely chopped
1ts rice wine
2ts light soy
1/3ts ground white pepper
300ml chicken stock
2ts dried wakame seaweed
Small handful of coriander leaves
This is nice and simple, just mix everything together. If you stir in one direction the filling will eventually come together as one big sticky lump.
To fill brush the edge of a dumpling skin with water (this isn't required if you make your own skins but the pre-made are a little dry), place a heaped teaspoon in the middle and fold the skin over into a semi-circle, being careful to remove air then squashing to seal. These are not pleated dumplings.
For the soup bring the stock to boil and add the wakame.
Bring a saucepan of water to boil and add the dumplings, simmering for 3 minutes, until cooked through and floating.
Remove, serve in one bowl if sharing and two bowls if a meal, adding the seaweed broth and coriander to finish.