Monday, 3 June 2013

Dumpling making

Handmade has been happening in Wellington this long weekend. As part of the Taste programme, we were thrilled to see that Vicky Ha from House of Dumplings would be teaching a hands-on dumpling making class. I waited, poised and ready for action as soon as bookings became available ... then pounced to book our places. I'm glad I did; her two sessions sold out almost immediately - and so did the extra sessions she put on in response to popular demand.

Chinese dumplings are a staple of dim sum (yum cha). I'm told that dumpling houses are very popular overseas and eagerly await the day this trend catches on here. In the meantime, there is House of Dumplings to bring dumpling delights to Wellington.

The dough is surprisingly simple: plain flour, boiling water and a bit of elbow grease. Make the dough with hot water for steamed and pan fried dumplings, but substitute it for cold water if you intend to boil them. I think I'll use the dough hook on my Kenwood mixer to make the dough as it takes about 10 minutes of mixing before sitting for anywhere between 30-120 minutes. Also, it's good to know that you can use any types of flour to make dumplings; it doesn't have to be high grade, either.

While the dough is resting, prepare your filling. Vicky said that anything you would make a meatball out of goes well inside a dumpling. We had delicious free range Shanghai Pork and savoy cabbage dumplings, topped with Mum's secret sauce - it seems every family has food secrets like this. Roll the dough out to about 3 mm thick and cut into a 10 cm round. (It's much easier to get a consistently thin dough if you use a pasta maker.) Add about half a tablespoon of filling to the middle of each floured circle of dough, then assemble.
Filling the dumplings.
The yellow skin is coloured with turmeric.
When it comes to folding, almost anything goes. We practised seven different folding techniques, some which are more prevalent in particular cultures. It was surprisingly simple (or maybe I was just having a really good day?) with the edges being 'glued' together with water.

Folding the dumplings
... and then they are ready to cook. These ones were steamed for 7-8 minutes but you can also pan fry or boil the dumplings. Pan frying gives a caramelised finish but still lets the filling steam.
Steamed dumplings ready to eat!
A huge thank you to Vicky for a fun hands-on session. The dumplings tasted absolutely amazing! I think we might need to have Dumpling Sundays so we can practise what we've learned by starting our very own dumpling assembly lines at home.