Like many of you I have enjoyed reading about Daring bakers and their monthly baking challenges for a while now. When I heard about the Daring cooks starting I thought about joining as I cook more than I bake but was a little nervous that I was too fussy an eater! Then for their first challenge they made ricotta gnocchi and I kicked myself for not joining! I have wanted to make gnocchi for some time now but never quiet got round to it. So the day of the big reveal of all these delicious gnocchi dishes I decided to become a daring cook myself. Having just purchased my KitchenAid I decided to join the Daring bakers too!
This months challenge is hosted by Jen of use real butter and the challenge is Chinese dumplings/potstickes (aka gyoza in Japanese). I have to admit to being a little daunted by my first challenge. It was completely out of my comfort zone of British or Italian meals and to top it off they look like they involve lots of complicated, intricate steps. But then if it was simple, it wouldn’t be a challenge! I read the recipe through and looked at all the pictures and actually started to get a little bit excited. My boyfriend (who loves oriental food and will be forever grateful for the daring cooks for this challenge) was more than happy to be chief tester.
The main point of the challenge was to make our own wrappers (not to buy pre-made wanton wrappers) and learn to pleat them. I didn’t have too much trouble making the dough but the same can not be said for pleating them! Example below!
The results: You’ll see from my pictures (especially if you see all the other daring cooks entries) that mine did not turn out very professional looking but its the taste that counts and even I loved them!
Will I make them again? I’m not sure. They were pretty time consuming which was fun for a challenge but not something I can see see myself making regularly.
For a great step by step recipe/how to check out Jen’s version.
Below is the full recipe (warning its long!) and right at the end I write about my method and choice of filling etc.
1 lb (450g) ground pork
4 large napa cabbage leaves, minced
3 stalks green onions, minced
7 shitake mushrooms, minced (if dried – rehydrated and rinsed carefully)
1/2 cup (75g) bamboo shoots, minced
1/4 (55g) cup ginger root, minced
3 tbsp (40g) soy sauce
2 tbsp (28g) sesame oil
2 tbsp (16g) corn starch
1/2 lb (225g) raw shrimp, peeled, deveined, and coarsely chopped
1/2 lb (225g) ground pork
3 stalks green onions, minced
1/4 cup (55g) ginger root, minced
1 cup (142g) water chestnuts, minced
1 tsp (5g) salt
3 tbsp (40g) sesame oil
2 tbsp (16g) corn starch
dough: (double this for the amount of filling, but easier to make it in 2 batches – or just halve the filling recipe)
2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (113g) warm water
flour for work surface
2 parts soy sauce
1 part vinegar (red wine or black)
a few drops of sesame oil
chili garlic paste (optional)
minced ginger (optional)
minced garlic (optional)
minced green onion (optional)
Combine all filling ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix thoroughly (I mix by clean hand). Cover and refrigerate until ready to use (up to a day, but preferably within an hour or two).
Make the dough, Method 1: Place the flour in the work bowl of a food processor with the dough blade. Run the processor and pour the warm water in until incorporated. Pour the contents into a sturdy bowl or onto a work surface and knead until uniform and smooth. The dough should be firm and silky to the touch and not sticky.[Note: it’s better to have a moist dough and have to incorporate more flour than to have a dry and pilling dough and have to incorporate more water).
Make the dough, Method 2: In a large bowl mix flour with 1/4 cup of water and stir until water is absorbed. Continue adding water one teaspoon at a time and mixing thoroughly until dough pulls away from sides of bowl. We want a firm dough that is barely sticky to the touch.
Both dough methods: Knead the dough about twenty strokes then cover with a damp towel for 15 minutes. Take the dough and form a flattened dome. Cut into strips about 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide. Shape the strips into rounded long cylinders. On a floured surface, cut the strips into 3/4 inch pieces. Press palm down on each piece to form a flat circle (you can shape the corners in with your fingers). With a rolling pin, roll out a circular wrapper from each flat disc. Take care not to roll out too thin or the dumplings will break during cooking – about 1/16th inch. Leave the centers slightly thicker than the edges. Place a tablespoon of filling in the center of each wrapper and fold the dough in half, pleating the edges along one side. Keep all unused dough under damp cloth.
To boil: Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add dumplings to pot. Boil the dumplings until they float.
To steam: Place dumplings on a single layer of napa cabbage leaves or on a well-greased surface in a steamer basket with lid. Steam covered for about 6 minutes.
To pan fry (potstickers): Place dumplings in a frying pan with 2-3 tbsp of vegetable oil. Heat on high and fry for a few minutes until bottoms are golden. Add 1/2 cup water and cover. Cook until the water has boiled away and then uncover and reduce heat to medium or medium low. Let the dumplings cook for another 2 minutes then remove from heat and serve.
To freeze: Assemble dumplings on a baking sheet so they are not touching. It helps to rub the base of the dumpling in a little flour before setting on the baking sheet for ease of release. Freeze for 20-30 minutes until dumplings are no longer soft. Place in ziplock bag and freeze for up to a couple of months. Prepare per the above instructions, but allow extra time to ensure the filling is thoroughly cooked.
To serve: Serve dumplings or potstickers hot with your choice of dipping sauce combinations.
I chose the pork filling and I replaced the napa cabbage leaves with some spring greens I had in the fridge. I omitted the bamboo shoots and used fresh shitake mushrooms. I used 250g plain flour and mixed the dough in a food processor with no problems. I chose the potstickers method of cooking (as I was afraid my dumplings wouldn’t hold up to boiling! and I don’t own a steamer). I made a simple dipping sauce of equal amounts of light soy sauce and sweet chilli dipping sauce. Only about half the filling was used for the dumplings so the rest I made in to meatballs and used in a noodle soup which I will post in a few days.
Thanks Jen for a great challenge! I recommend that you check out some of the other Daring Cooks blog posts as I have been watching them on the DC forum all month and there are some great looking variations including sweet ones!