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International Dumplings

November 29  #1508   International Dumplings

 I've read that there is one thing that all societies have in common when it comes to food:  if you have any kind of flour available in your kitchen, you make some sort of a dumpling.  And Chef JP of Schola Cooking School, has been pondering these tempting little bundles of goodness.

Around the world the basics are the same:  make a flour dough, roll it out, cut it up, and stuff it with whatever comes to hand.  You can fry it, you can boil it, you can steam it, and you can serve it with or without a sauce.  It's a very basic concept.

Here are a whole batch of dumpling ideas that Jerry came up with at Schola Cooking School, along with his partner Chef Amy von Lange.

The Art of Making Dumplings
Chefs Amy von Lange & Jerry Pellegrino

Steamed Shrimp Dumplings

1 large egg
3/4 pound large shrimp, peeled, deveined and finely chopped
1/3 cup finely chopped peeled jicama or water chestnuts
2 scallions, finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
3/4 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Pinch of ground white pepper
36 round dumpling wrappers, thawed if frozen

Lightly beat the egg in a large bowl. Add the shrimp, jicama, scallions, cornstarch, rice wine, sesame oil, 3/4 teaspoon salt, the sugar and pepper. Stir well until the mixture starts to thicken, about 1 minute; cover and refrigerate until very cold, about 1 hour.

Set 1 dumpling wrapper on a clean surface (keep the rest covered with a damp paper towel so they don't dry out). Stir the shrimp mixture, then scoop 1 heaping teaspoonful onto the center of the wrapper. Dab a finger in a cup of cold water and moisten the edges of the wrapper. Fold in half and press the edges together to seal; transfer to a baking sheet. Cover with a damp paper towel while you form the remaining dumplings.Fill a large nonstick skillet with 1/4 inch of water and bring to a boil. Working in batches, add the dumplings and arrange in a single layer, cover and let steam until cooked through, about 5 minutes. (If the water evaporates before the dumplings are fully cooked, add 2 more tablespoons to the skillet.) Carefully transfer the dumplings to a serving plate.

Ponzu Dipping Sauce 
Combine 3 tablespoons ponzu sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 chopped scallion in a small bowl.

Pork & Scallion Pot Stickers (We used pre-made wrappers for these but there is a recipe if you’d like to try and make them from scratch)

2 cups chopped napa cabbage
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/2 pound ground pork (Don't get lean pork, the fat is good for juicy and flavorful dumplings)
2 tablespoons minced ginger
½ cup chopped scallions
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons thin soy sauce
3 tablespoons sesame oil
1 egg
1 to 2 cups chicken stock or water

4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups boiling water

1/3 cup thin soy sauce
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1/3 cup sliced scallions
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon sambal

Pork & Scallion Filling:
Sprinkle cabbage with the 1/2 tablespoon of salt and let stand for 30 minutes. Place the cabbage on a clean dishtowel or cheesecloth and squeeze out any water. The dryer the cabbage the better. In a large bowl thoroughly mix the cabbage with all of the other ingredients, except the chicken stock. Cook a tester to check the seasoning.

In a stainless steel bowl mix flour and salt. Slowly add hot water to flour in 1/4 cup increments. Mix with chopsticks until a ball is formed and the dough is not too hot to handle. On a floured surface, knead dough until it becomes a smooth, elastic ball. Place back in bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Allow to rest for at least 1 hour.

Working on a floured surface with floured hands, roll out dough to form a long 'noodle', 1-inch in diameter. Cut 1/2-inch pieces and turn them over so the cut sides are facing up. Flatten with your palm and roll out thin using a rolling pin. The dumpling wrapper should end up about 3 inches in diameter.

MAKING THE DUMPLINGS: Place a small mound of filling in the middle of the wrapper. (Be very careful not to touch the edges with the filling as this will impede proper sealing of the dumplings. Nothing is worse than dumplings breaking during cooking.) Fold the wrapper in half to form a half moon shape. Starting on one end fold/pinch the wrapper tightly together. Proceed with this fold/pinch method until the dumpling is completely sealed. There will be approximately 10 to 14 folds per dumpling. Rest the dumplings with the folded edges straight up.

COOKING THE DUMPLINGS: In a hot saute pan coated well with oil, place pot stickers flat side down and cook until the bottom is browned. Have pan cover ready and add 1 cup of chicken stock, cover immediately. Be careful, the liquid will splatter! The stock will steam the pot stickers. Check them in 5 minutes as more stock may be needed. The trick here is that once the dumplings are firm and fully cooked the stock will evaporate and the bottoms will crisp-up again.

Spicy Soy Dipping Sauce:
Combine all and serve in a small bowl.

Al Spoler, well known to WYPR listeners as the wine-loving co-host of "Cellar Notes" has had a long-standing parallel interest in cooking as well. Al has said, the moment he started getting serious about Sunday night dinners was the same moment he started getting serious about wine. Over the years, he has benefited greatly from being a member of the Cork and Fork Society of Baltimore, a gentlemen's dining club that serves black tie meals cooked by the members themselves who are some of Baltimore's most accomplished amateur cooks.
Executive Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Corks restaurant is fascinated by food and wine, and the way they work in harmony on the palate. His understanding of the two goes all the way to the molecular level, drawing on his advanced education in molecular biology. His cuisine is simple and surprising, pairing unexpected ingredients together to work with Corks' extensive wine offerings.