If you have ever been to Shanghai then you will know the local delicacy well. Loosely translated from the Chinese name, it’s known as Little Dumplings, and it is also a mainstay in the menu of big-name Chinese restaurants that serve timsum here. These dumplings ooze hot piping soup when you bite into them, and balls of meat in the dumplings leave a warm tingling sensation in your tummy when you’re done.
How to make these succulent delicacies? In here we show you how.
Hark back to pre-war Shanghai with these jazzy hits.
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Writer, dancer, and dreamer. An adult ballerina, this late bloomer finds beauty in what she sees and is always looking for new places to explore and good-looking food to ogle.
Beats & Bites: Chinese Dumplings
The Meat Gelatin
- 1 lp pork neck bones (you want neck bones that still have meat on them!)
- 2 slices ginger
- 1 scallion (cut into 3 pieces)
- 1 tablespoon shaoxing wine
- 1 cup All purpose flour
- 6 tablespoons warm water
- 1 lb ground pork (70% lean 30% fat)
- 2 tablespoons shaoxing wine
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
- 3/4 teaspoon sugar
- 3 teaspoons light soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons Water
- A pinch of ground white-pepper
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 1 heaping cup of your aspic, diced into ½-inch pieces
Step 1: Meat Gelatin
- In order to ensure the soup gets into the dumpling, you need to first make meat gelatin.
- In a small pot, add the pork skin and pork bones and cover with cold water. Bring to a rolling boil, and immediately drain and rinse off the bones and the skin. This gets rid of any impurities. Rinse out the pot and put everything back in. Add 4 cups of water, ginger, scallion and wine. Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 2 hours.
- After 2 hours, turn off the heat, allow the soup to cool, and strain the liquid into a bowl. Once the liquid is completely cooled, cover and refrigerate overnight.
- This is what you’ll have the next day.
Step 2: The Dough
- In a mixing bowl, add the flour and the warm water 1 tablespoon at a time. Work and knead the dough for 15-20 minutes. The dough should be very soft and smooth. Cover with a cloth and let it rest for 30 minutes.
Step 3: The Filling
- Take your ground pork and put it in the food processor. Pulse for 30-60 seconds until the pork resembles paste. In a mixing bowl, add the pork and all the rest of the ingredients except the meat gelatin.
- Whip everything together thoroughly, for about 2 minutes. You want everything to be extremely well combined, and the pork should look like a light, airy paste. Gently fold in the meat gelatin, and do not over-mix.
- Cover and transfer the filling to the refrigerator until ready to make the dumplings. If you’re ready now, you can put it in the freezer for 15 minutes to allow it to firm up and make assembling the buns easier.
Step 4: Assembly
- Lightly dust a clean work surface with flour and roll the dough into a long cylinder, about an inch in diameter. Cut the dough into small equal pieces.
- Roll out each piece into a round disc about 3 – 3 ¼ inches diameter. Keep everything under a damp cloth.
- When all that is prepared, take out the filling. You’ll be making each bun one at a time. Place about 1 tablespoon of filling in the middle of your dumpling skin. It should have as many folds as you can muster: 12-20 folds should do it. Basically, as you fold, you’re constantly using your thumb to push the filling into the resulting little “bag” that you’re creating with the dough.
- For this one, you’re just making more folds. Make sure the top is sealed. If the filling ever gets too wet or hard to handle, put it in the freezer for another 15 minutes and start again.
- Place the buns in the lined steamer basket, about 1½ – 2 inches apart.
- Prepare your bamboo steamer. You can line it with cheese cloth or napa cabbage leaves.
- In a metal steamer pot or wok, boil water. If using a wok, put the water at a level so that when you put the bamboo steamer into the wok, the water rises about ½ inch up the bottom of the bamboo base. You never want the water to touch the dumplings inside, though, so make sure not to fill it too high! But make sure not to fill it too low either, because if all the water evaporates, you could end up burning your bamboo steamer.
- Once the water is boiling, put the bamboo steamer in the wok or steamer pot, cover with the bamboo steamer lid, and steam over high heat for 8 minutes. Immediately remove the bamboo steamer from the pot and serve.