Since Adam Daman was in second grade, his favorite food has been Asian dumplings. He has tasted many versions of this savory dish, but his favorite is a more “traditional” recipe.
Daman calls his dish “traditional” because of his preparation using a bamboo steamer and his chosen ingredients — ground pork, cabbage, ginger, water chestnuts and green onion — but he says you can use a variety of ingredients and make them different ways.
Dumplings may seem too daunting to make from scratch, but they are actually much simpler than you might think. The trickiest part is folding and pleating the dumpling wrappers around the filling.
“The key is to avoid getting any food on the edges of the fold,” Daman says. “That messes with the seal and they could open when cooking. I make 1-ounce scoops for the filling and use an egg wash on half of the dumpling wrapper to help stick the folds together.”
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Once the dumpling are assembled, they go through a four-step cooking process before they are served. First they are placed in boiling saltwater, followed by a cool-down in an ice bath. Then the dumpings are steamed in a bamboo steamer and finished by pouring hot vegetable oil over the top to give them a nice crispy texture.
Dumplings are loaded with flavor in every bite, and you can make a large batch and freeze them for later.
Banana leaves are available at many Asian stores and some supermarkets, such as the Price Chopper in Roeland Park.
About the column
Cooking 101 is a bimonthly column exclusive to The Star designed to introduce home cooks to basic cooking techniques. The recipe, food styling and photography are a joint project between culinary students and instructors at Johnson County Community College’s Hospitality Management Program.
Adam Daman is a second-year student in the Johnson County Community College chef apprentice and hospitality management program. He is an apprentice at Café Trio in Kansas City. He currently works in the pantry station.
Pork Dumplings With Pickled Vegetables
Makes 36 to 40 dumplings
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
2 large carrots, peeled, cut into matchsticks
3 large daikon radishes, peeled, cut into matchsticks
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
21/2 tablespoons chili oil
2 teaspoons sugar
1 pound ground pork
3/4 medium head white or green cabbage, very finely chopped
1 tablespoon minced ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons minced water chestnuts
3 green onions, finely chopped
2 teaspoons sesame oil
11/2 teaspoons salt
1 (1-pound) package dumpling wrappers
1 egg, beaten
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons scallion, sliced thin on the bias, for garnish
A day before you make the dumplings, prepare the pickled vegetables, dipping sauce and filling.
To prepare the pickled vegetables: Combine salt, vinegars, water and sugar in a nonreactive saucepan and heat over medium-high heat, stirring until salt and sugar dissolve. Remove from the heat and cool brine to room temperature. Place carrots and radishes in a resealable glass jar. Pour brine over vegetables and seal the jar. Keep in refrigerator overnight.
To make the dipping sauce: In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, sugar, rice wine vinegar and chili oil. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
To make the filling: In a large mixing bowl, combine pork, cabbage, ginger, garlic, water chestnuts, green onion, sesame oil, sugar and salt. For best results, tightly wrap or seal container and place in the refrigerator for up to 8 hours to allow flavors to meld.
To fill dumplings: Place dumpling wrapper on a clean surface. Keep remaining wrappers moist on a clean slightly damp towel. Using a 1-ounce scoop, place filling in the wrapper’s center. Dip fingers in egg wash and follow the edges of half the wrapper, then fold against opposing side to resemble a half moon. ( There are many shapes; the photo illustrates a fold referred to as the Nurse Hat.) Dumplings freeze well; place on a baking sheet and freeze overnight, then store in a ziptop bag
To cook dumplings: Using a slotted spoon, lower small batches of the dumplings into boiling salted water and cook through, about 1 minute. Remove dumplings from pot, drain and plunge into an ice bath for 30 seconds to stop cooking.
Fill a steamer pot with water measuring an inch below the steamer tray. Bring to a boil over high heat. Place dumplings in a bamboo steamer lined with banana leaves and steam over simmering water for about 7 to 9 minutes, until the wrapper is opaque. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.
Heat vegetable oil in a small skillet until barely smoking. Add pickled vegetables and sliced scallions, and heat until fragrant. Pour hot oil mixture over the dumplings. Serve with dipping sauce on the side.
Per dumpling, based on 36: 89 calories (52 percent from fat), 5 grams total fat (1 gram saturated), 16 milligrams cholesterol, 7 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams protein, 543 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber.