Saturday, April 26, 2008
I am infatuated with all things dim sum. One of my favorites are soup dumplings (xiao long bao), filled with rich broth that burst out of the tender wrappers when you bite down. Until recently, I had no idea how such a feat of physics was possible. So, how do you encapsulate liquid in a dumpling wrapper? Make it a solid. These were so good that we're keeping a stockpile in the freezer, which is simple, because this makes plenty.
While I would not classify this as a beginner recipe, it is not very difficult. But be prepared for it to take several hours out of your life.
Warning: These Dumplings are Highly Addictive
For the aspic (which becomes the liquid broth when dumplings are steamed):
10 cups water
1 duck carcass with some meat remaining
1 duck neck (comes inside a whole duck)
3/4 cup white parts of scallions
2 half inch thick slices of peeled ginger
2 medium dried mushrooms
1 smashed garlic clove
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 Tsp. cream sherry
2 envelopes (about an ounce) unflavored gelatin
Combine all broth ingredients except gelatin in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil and simmer, uncovered, periodically spooning off any foam on the surface, about 2 hours.
Strain soup, discarding all solids. Boil until reduced to 2 cups. In a small bowl, bloom gelatin in 3 Tbsp. of water. Add to broth while it's still warm and stir to dissolve. Transfer to a 13" x 9" pyrex dish and let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate overnight.
Cut aspic into small 1/2 inch cubes.
1 lb. ground pork
1/4 lb. uncooked peeled and deveined shrimp (buy the smaller ones) - chopped fine
1/3 cup sliced green parts of scallions
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp mined garlic
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
1 tsp cream sherry
1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
Combine all ingredients and mix well until blended. Mix in aspic.
75 dumpling wrappers (also called potsticker wrappers (about 2 packages)- do not use wonton wrappers
water for sealing
To assemble, place one tsp. filling into the center of each wrapper. Wet your finger and trace around the outside of the filling. This will help the wrapper to seal. Bring one edge of wrapper up around filling, then pleat as many small pleats as possible at regular intervals until filling is enclosed, pinching as you go to seal the wrapper. Pinch the top edges together and twist them in the same direction as the pleats. Tuck the top down so it isn't sticking out. Repeat 75 times! (I suggest enlisting help)
Steam the dumplings in a bamboo steamer for 11 minutes. (15 if frozen). Enjoy with a sauce of 1 cup black Chinese vinegar, 5 Tbsp. soy sauce and 2 Tbsp. freshly grated ginger. Eat whole to avoid losing the broth (don't worry they're small!). Serve alongside tempera veggies (I take Trader Joe's help for these. We've done enough already!)