dumplings

Teaching the teacher

Last week, the American master chef Kevin Storm visited our kitchen. He was not here to advise or teach us – he was here to learn how to make local-style dumplings. In particular, he wanted to study vegetarian dumplings with me, so he can make them for his vegan daughter.

Kevin is the assistant manager of the American Culinary Federation. He instructs students from throughout the USA, and leads them to take part in culinary competitions around the world. Kevin is also the executive chef at the Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis.

Morning Market Tour and Dumpling Cooking Class Video

Recently I had the good fortune to cooperate with Tripinsiders.com in designing a new event for our guests, a morning market tour and dumpling cooking class. Tripinsiders made this beautiful two minute video to introduce me and the tour. 
 
 
I really appreciate the kindness and expertise of Rosa, Ray, Gabriel and everyone at Tripinsiders for helping me so much with this, and giving me an insight into their world. 

Making a video with TripinsidersYou can find out about this tour, including how to book it, at http://www.tripinsiders.com/service/10338568?locale=en. (And there you can also read about all the other interesting activities that Tripinsiders offer in Taiwan and other countries).


 

Dumpling engineering: How to cook pot stickers

Here is the procedure for frying pot stickers, a kind of fried dumpling (In Chinese, they are called Guo Tie, which is pronounced gwor tee-ay and written 鍋貼)

1) Turn on the heat and dry the frying pan.

2) Put about a tablespoon of oil into the pan, turn down the heat so you have time to put the dumplings side-by-side in the pan.

3) Turn the heat up to medium. Gradually you will notice the bottom of the dumplings becoming brown and a little crispy.

4) Add water right on top of the dumplings. Then cover the pan with a lid, and turn the heat high.

4.1) If you are cooking fresh dumplings, you usually need only half a cup of water for 10 to 12 dumplings. But if you are cooking frozen, add more water, and allow more time for the dumplings to be cooked.

Dumpling Engineering: Why is my dumpling dough coming out too sticky?

Why is my dumpling dough coming out too sticky?

This is a very common question that our students ask when making dumpling dough.

Obviously, there could simply be too much water for the amount of flour. You can avoid this problem by simply using the exact amounts of ingredients specified in the recipe.

Apart from that, there are other two common reasons that the dough will be too sticky: the dough was too warm when you started, or you're in a place with high humidity and temperature.

If you're noticing that your dough is too sticky, you need to use your own judgment to figure out the reason. If you think the dough is too warm, just allow it to rest for two to five minutes, and it will cool down naturally after a couple of minutes.

If you think the dough is too wet, then sprinkle a little flour on your hands, and gently knead the dough. If it still seems wet, repeat the same procedure..

The procedure for making dumpling dough

Ingredients

3 cups of all purpose flour, 1 cup hot water, ½ cup cold water.

Procedure for making dumpling dough:

1. Put 3 cups of flour into a mixing bowl, and mix in 1 cup of just boiled water. Stir the mixture with a stick or a fork, until the flour become flaky. (see Note 1)
2. Pour a ½ cup of cold water into the dough, and keep mixing, until it become a ball shape.
3. Sprinkle some flour on a wide flat surface, such as a countertop, and place the dough on the surface.
4. The dough now should be sticky and warm, leave it alone for a couple of minutes, to allow it to cool down.
5. When you can feel the dough has become cooler, and dryer, you can start kneading the dough very gently. Do not try too hard, because the center of dough is still very warm. While kneading the dough, if you find the dough is still very sticky, sprinkle a little flour on your hands and working surface, but not directly on the dough.

Dumpling Engineering: The procedure for making dumpling dough

Ingredients

3 cups of all purpose flour, 1 cup hot water, ½ cup cold water.

 

Procedure for making dumpling dough:

1. Put 3 cups of flour into a mixing bowl, and mix in 1 cup of just boiled water. Stir the mixture with a stick or a fork, until the flour become flaky. (see Note 1)

2. Pour a ½ cup of cold water into the dough, and keep mixing, until it become a ball shape.

Dumpling Engineering: The Filling


The basic dumpling filling uses simple vegetarian ingredients and a bare minimum amount of seasoning. After you've mastered the art of making delicious dumplings with a basic filling, you can experiment with a wider range of ingredients and add meat if you wish.

Obviously we want dumplings to taste great, but dumplings are also an engineering challenge. We have to make sure our filling does not overwhelm the dough wrapping by being too heavy or too wet. The dough has to stick together and not get soggy, or, in the worst case, the wrapping will fail, and we will have a dumpling disaster.

Taiwanese wedding dumplings


sweet dumplingsWhen a couple are getting married in Taiwan, the bride's family, neighbors, and friends traditionally get together to make small dumplings from sticky rice. During the engagement and wedding celebrations, the bride's family serve the sticky dumplings to everyone who visits them. The dumplings aren't flavored, but they're usually served with a sweet soup (or sweetened in some other way).

The handmade sticky dumpling balls are a gift from the family and all the friends and neighbors nearby. When they get together making the sticky dumpling balls, it's always a happy atmosphere. The dumplings aren't hard to make. It's like a kind of party, with everyone talking, laughing, and eating. A daughter getting married is everyone's business. So making the dumplings together is a blessing they all prepare for the bride. They put their happiness into making the sweet sticky dumplings, and share it with everyone.
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