I have to remind myself time-and-again to get the kids cooking in the kitchen. It’s too easy to fall into the pattern of – I can do it faster and cleaner – and weeks can go by before I realise they haven’t cooked a thing (apart from toast).
One of our most popular dinners are these pork and coriander dumplings. My ten year old in particular has taken a keen interest in homemade foods and declares that these dumplings are the best! Even better than the ones we eat out in Ashfield – the dumpling capital of the Inner West! (You’ve gotta love ten year olds for their biased enthusiasm).
Rolling dumplings is the perfect excuse to pull up a seat and sit with my son whilst we chat and prepare food together. I actually manage to get more than yes and no answers out of him and we both feel a sense of connection by the time the batch has been rolled. We get a production line going and I tell him once the dumplings are sealed he needs to shape the tops, reminiscent of the sails on the Opera House.
It becomes an exciting week-night evening when dumplings are on the menu. My daughter takes great pride in setting the table. She lays out Asian placemats, chop sticks, tea cups, sometimes a candle is lit, and there is always a large pot of jasmine tea in the centre of the table.
The most important ingredient here is the pork mince. I only make dumplings when I go to my local butcher and get the pork freshly minced. So please don’t buy your mince from the supermarket, it’s often sat there for days with added preservatives to keep it going (and goodness knows what else other than pork has been minced through it too). Quality always comes at a cost, the cost of giving up convenience. But I am more than happy to do that when it comes to fresh food. And really, we all know free-range and fresh is best.
Once you have the best mince you can get your hands on, you’ll need a dipping sauce. My preference is always to make a 50/50 mix of Chinese red vinegar with soy sauce, and them add measured amounts of my homemade chilli oil to that (recipe below). The chilli oil stores for weeks and can also be drizzled on all manner of other foods besides dumplings.
You’ll need a big bowl of steamed Asian greens, that I tend to quickly toss with fried garlic and a dash of oyster sauce. And if it’s your preference (sometimes we do, sometimes we don’t) some steamed rice.
Pork, ginger and coriander dumplings with garlic chilli oil
For the dumplings
450g free range pork mince
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 tsp grated garlic
2 tbsp chopped coriander stem
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp Chinese red vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 free range egg
large pinch ground white pepper
30 (1 pkt) Gow gee wrappers (available in Asian food stores)
equal quantities of soy sauce and Chinese red vinegar
Steamed Asian greens
Steamed rice – optional
Place all the ingredients for the pork and coriander dumplings except the gow gee wrappers a large bowl. Mix till well combined.
Lay out 6 gow gee wrappers on a clean bench. Dip a pastry brush in water and lightly wet the outer rim in a circular motion around the pastry. Place less than a tbsp (more like two heaped tsp) of pork filling in the centre of each wrapper. Fold the wrapper over, and pinch to seal. Sit the base of the dumpling on the bench as you use both hands to crimp the top the pastry into a pinched pattern. Set aside on a clean tray and repeat process with remaining ingredients till all dumplings are rolled.
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil, gently add the dumplings and stir to keep them from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Boil for 3 – 4 minutes. Drain and place on a platter. Serve with dipping sauce, chilli oil (see recipe below), steamed greens and optional steamed rice.
For the chilli oil
It’s important here to buy large dried chillies best found in Asian market stores. The larger ones are not as hot as the smaller variety and have a sweeter taste, perfect for this chilli oil.
20g (about 15) large dried red chillies
2 cloves garlic, grated
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup rice bran oil
Place the whole chillies in a bowl, cover with boiling water and soak for 20 minutes. Drain and squeeze remaining water from the chillies, roughly chop them and place in a small blender with the garlic, salt and half the oil, blitz till chilli is roughly chopped.
Pour the chilli oil into a small sauce pan, add the remaining oil and turn the heat to very low, cook the chilli oil on a low heat for at least one hour, stir occasionally. Set aside to cool. Store in a clean glass jar for 4-6 weeks.
Add a drizzle of the chilli oil to the soy and vinegar dipping sauce and lather the dumplings with this.
(C) Recipe and photography copyright 2016 Food From Michelle’s Kitchen