**updated, ooppss.. sorry, I forgot to thank Jen from userealbutter for being a terrific hostest on this month's challenge. Please forgive me, I was busy cramming for exam when I made this post =p**
A day late, but I promise you, it will be worth the wait.
I went all out for this month's Daring Cooks. The brief said to make potstickers, but since I love dumplings soooo much, I made it 4 ways.. with 3 different fillings. Plus a dessert version to end the night with a sweet note.
In the midst of my cramming session for my exams, I allocate one whole day to make this dumplings. The pleating and rolling out the dumpling proved to be quite therapeutic and a short escape from the grueling hours buried in books. I have a couple of dumpling recipe that I want to try so instead of picking one, I decided to try them all. But being the idiot that I am, instead of doing the fillings half the recipe or even less, I did all of them in full quantity, so I end up with heaps of dumplings. Fortunately, they freeze well, so I can enjoy them for weeks. I invited a couple of friends for a dumpling dinner.
I made the whole dinner with dumplings. Mushroom and tofu potstickers in thick broth for appetizer, prawn & chicken and wafu gyoza dumplings served in 2 ways for the main, and a choc caramel banana mille feuille for dessert. For the main course, I boil the dumplings and made it as a dumpling noodle soup.
To accompany the noodle soup, I also made some xia long bao. Xia long bao is a traditional shanghai style dumplings where each delicate dumplings holds a tasty soup in the middle. I used to think they inject the soup into the dumpling. But after reading chef Joycelyn's rendition of it, I found out that the broth was first set into a gelee that looks like a translucent jewel-like cubes. Then, from the steaming process, the gelee liquifies back into a broth, hence the soupy centre in the dumplings. I've tried making xiao long bao before, and back then, I was making it for myself, so I can actually use the secret ingredient that makes the broth very gelatinous, even without the addition of a setting agent like agar-agar or gelatine.It is very simple really, the secret lies in the skin of a pig, or pork rind. It is so fatty and rich in albumen and colagen that is very gelatinous when cooked in water. However, this time, as I am cooking for M this time, I used chicken stock and add agar-agar to make it set. I still couldn't get the pleating technique right, but it's good enough for me. The appetizer is actually inspired from watching masterchef. I'm so addicted to masterchef lately, I sometimes even watch the rerun on my lunch hour. It was the winning dish that made Julia won the invention test which then leads to her win over chef Peter Evans and a guaranteed spot in the finals.
And last but not least, being the sweet tooth that I am, I couldn't resist making a dessert. I deep fried the lefover dumpling skin, and made an asian mille feuille with banana, chocolate and caramel sauce. The chocolate mousse is also leftover from my friend's two tier birthday cake.
As you can see, I enjoyed this challenge so much. Thank you Jenn for the tasty challenge, as well as the recipe. Can't wait for next month's challenge =)
1tsp salt (replace with sugar for the mille feuille)
100ml boiling water
Combine salt and flour in a bowl and make a well in the centre. Boil water, and as soon as it stop's bubbling, pour into the well in the centre of the flour mixture. With a fork, slowly incorporate flour into the water until it forms a dough. Transfer to a work surface and continue working on the dough until it forms a smooth ball. Keep covered in a damp cloth all the time when you're not working with the dough to prevent it from drying out.
Mushroom & Tofu filling:
Recipe by Julia, Masterchef Australia finalist
50g firm tofu, finely diced
2 stems choy sum, finely chopped
50g mixed Asian mushrooms, finely diced
1 tsp fresh ginger finely diced
combine the tofu, greens, mushrooms and ginger in a bowl, mix and season.
3 cups chicken stock
1 tbs caster sugar
¼ cup black vinegar
1 tbs light soy sauce
2cm piece ginger, peeled and sliced
For the broth, pour the stock into a saucepan. Add the sugar, vinegar, soy and ginger. Place over a medium heat and allow to simmer.
Shrimp & chicken filling:
1/2 lb (225g) raw shrimp, peeled, deveined, and coarsely chopped
1/2 lb (225g) ground chicken
5 chinese chives, minced
1/4 cup (55g) ginger root, minced
1 tsp (5g) salt
3 tbsp (40g) sesame oil
2 tbsp (16g) corn starch
Combine all filling ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix thoroughly (I mix by clean hand). Cover and refrigerate until ready to use (up to a day, but preferably within an hour or two).
Wafu gyoza filling recipe can be found here
Xiao Long Bao:
500ml of chicken stock - preferably home made
half a packet of agar-agar
in a separate bowl, disperse agar-agar in 50ml of stock, set aside. In a saucepan, bring stock to the boil, season with salt and pepper. Add the agar-agar and simmer for 1-2 mins. In a shallow dish, pour the stock and cool to room temperature. Set in refrigerator for a couple of hours or overnight. After fully set, dice gelee into cubes.
For Xiao Long Bao, I use the wafu gyoza filling and the shrimp & chicken filling. Steam in a bamboo steamer over a bed of lettuce.
bunch of shitake mushroom
bunch of enoki mushroom
1L of chicken stock
200-400ml of water
dash of fish sauce
bunch of chinese chives
Boil chicken stock and water in a large pot. Add sauces & ginger according to taste. put dumplings and boil for a couple of minutes until it becomes see-through. Put in mushrooms, bok choy and chives and simmer until it boils again. Cook noodle according to pack instruction. Put noodles in individual bowls, pour the soup over.
In a shallow pan, heat oil and fry the dumplings until browned in the bottom. Pour in chicken stock and cover pan immediately, trapping the steam inside. Please be careful, as it will splatter a lot. If you're like me, the thought of oil splattering is unbearable, steam it in a separate pan. While the dumpling is cooking, in a separate pan, heat up chicken stock. As the dumplings browned, transfer the dumplings to the pan with chicken stock and cover immediately. Steam until most of the stock are absorbed by the dumpling and dumplings are translucent.