Chinese Pork Dumplings

Oh man these were definitely a labor of love, but so good and the feeling of them sitting in my belly makes me feel like it was totally worth it.  It just might be a while before I do it again though.  This recipe came in my most recent Cooks Illustrated magazine and I was just waiting for a day when I had the time to try it out.  This lazy Sunday afternoon presented the perfect opportunity and all the kids loved helping me roll the dumplings.  It was definitely a family affair.  They maybe didn’t look as pretty as they could have, but we all had fun in the kitchen together.
CHINESE PORK DUMPLINGS (makes 40 Dumplings)

Ingredients for dough:

  • 2 1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 C boiling water (I heated in the kettle and then measured out a cup)

Ingredients for filling:

  • 5 C 1-inch Napa cabbage pieces (I just ripped them by hand into my food processor)
  • Salt
  • 12 oz ground pork
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce, plus extra for dipping
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil, plus 2 Tbsp for pan frying (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1 Tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
  • 4 scallions, chopped fine

*Rice vinegar and chili oil for dipping

Directions:

  1.  FOR THE DOUGH:  Place flour in food processor.  With food processor running, add boiling water.  Continue to process until dough forms ball and clears sides of bowl, 30-45 seconds longer.  Transfer dough to counter and knead until smooth, 2-3 minutes.  Wrap dough in plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes.
  2. FOR THE FILLING:  While dough rests, scrape any excess dough from now-empty processor bowl and blade.  Pulse cabbage in processor until finely chopped, 8-10 pulses.  Transfer cabbage to medium bowl and stir in 1/2 tsp salt; let sit for 10 minutes.  Using your hands, squeeze excess moisture from cabbage.  Transfer cabbage to small bowl and set aside.
  3. Pulse pork, soy sauce, sesame oil, 1 Tbsp vegetable oil, sherry/rice wine, hoisin, ginger, pepper, and 1/2 tsp salt in now empty food processor until blended and slightly sticky, about 10 pulses.  Scatter cabbage over pork mixture.  Add scallions and pulse until vegetable are evenly distributed, about 8 pulses.  Transfer pork mixture to small bowl and using rubber spatula, smooth surface.  Cover with plastic and refrigerate.
  4. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.  Dust lightly with flour and set aside.  Unwrap dough and transfer to counter.  Roll dough into 12-inch cylinder and cut cylinder into 4 equal pieces.  Set 3 pieces aside and cover with plastic.  Roll remaining piece into 8-inch cylinder.  Cut cylinder in half and cut each half into 5 equal pieces.  Place dough pieces on 1 cut side on lightly floured counter and lightly dust with flour.  Using palm of hand, press each dough piece into 2-inch disk.  Cover disks with damp towel.
  5. Roll 1 disk into 3 1/2-in round (wrappers needn’t be perfectly round) and re-cover disk with damp towel.  Repeat with remaining disks.
  6. Using rubbing spatula, remove 1/4 of pork filling and keep remaining in the refrigerator.  Working with 1 wrapper at a time (keep remaining wrappers covered), place 1 Tbsp of filling in center of wrapper.  Lift side of wrapper closes to you and side farthest away and pinch together to form 1 1/2-inch wide seam in center of dumpling.  Lift left corner farthest away from you and bring to center of seam.  Pinch to seal.  Pinch together remaining dough on left side to seal.  Repeat pinching on right side.  Gently press dumpling into crescent shape and transfer to prepared sheet.  Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling.
  7. TO PAN-FRY:  Brush 12-inch nonstick skillet with 1 Tbsp vegetable oil.  Evenly space dumplings, flat side down, around edge of skillet and place the rest in center.  (I had two skillets going each with 20 dumplings in them).  Cook over medium heat until bottoms begin to turn spotty brown, 3-4 minutes.  Carefully add 1/2 C water.  Bring water to boil.  Cover and reduce heat to medium-low.  Cook for 6 minutes.  Uncover, increase heat to medium high, and cook until water has evaporated and bottoms of dumplings are crispy  and browned, 1-3 minutes.  Transfer dumplings to platter, crispy sides up.  Serve hot with rice vinegar, chili oil and soy sauce for dipping (I made a little mixture with all 3 and quite enjoyed it).
  8. TO BOIL:  Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large Dutch oven over high heat.  Add 20 dumplings, a few at a time, stirring gently to prevent them from sticking.  Return to simmer, adjusting heat as necessary to maintain simmer.  Cook dumplings for 7 minutes.  Drain well.
  9. TO MAKE AHEAD:  Freeze uncooked dumplings on rimmed baking sheet until solid.  Transfer to zipper-lock bag and freeze for up to 1 month.  To pan- fry, increase water to 2/3 C and covered cooking time to 8 minutes.  To boil, increase cooking time to 8 minutes.
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