Recipe: Pan-Fried Dumplings

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I love grocery stores. Whenever we go anywhere new, they’re high up on my list of must-explore places. From big chains to mom-and-pop ones; from as close as the Upper West Side to as far as the Philippines. And the more ethnic the better.

The first H-Mart I ever went to was in Maryland the summer after my junior year of college. I was living in DC and went with my college roommate, Christina, and her mom, Celia, who was born in China and grew up in Brazil. I had never seen a supermarket stocked with so many Asian products. Fresh galangal, aisles of kimchi, fermented anchovies in a jar—it was mind blowing.

We did a week’s worth of grocery shopping and went back to their house in Chevy Chase to make dumplings. From scratch. The dough, the filling, the pleating.

We made trays and trays of them to stock the freezer before pan frying a batch. That was the first and last time I made dumplings. But they were extraordinary and a kind of comfort food that I had never quite experienced before.

Fast forward to last month. An H-Mart opened just down the street from us on 3rd Avenue and 10th Street. Naturally, I had to explore. On a Sunday afternoon, I took Liana with me, who, at 19 months loves all kinds of exploration, especially when it involves food. We put a knob of fresh ginger, garlic, black vinegar, scallions, and a pack of frozen gyoza wrappers in our cart. My plan was to take a crack at dumplings.

Back home I made a super flavorful filling and relied on muscle memory to bring back the folding technique that Celia had taught me more than 10 years ago. I pan-fried a dozen of them and made a quick dipping sauce. (It wasn’t the world’s fastest dinner—took me about 40 minutes to prepare the filling and make 50 dumplings. But making 50 in one shot means that I have many dinners ready to go in the freezer!) I sat down at the table with Liana, the plate of dumplings in front of us. We devoured them, Liana and I going one for one on them. Our kind of comfort food.

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The Recipe

Filling:

+ 3 cups shredded Napa cabbage
+ 1 tablespoon salt
+ 1 pound ground dark meat turkey (you can also use + dark meat chicken or pork)
+ 1 egg white, lightly beaten
+ 1 clove garlic, minced
+ 1scallion, white and light green parts finely chopped
+ 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
+ 2 teaspoons soy sauce
+ 50 gyoza wrappers, thawed

In a large colander set in the sink or over a large bowl, toss the cabbage with the salt. Let sit for at least 15 minutes or up to 45. In a large bowl, combine the turkey, egg white, garlic, scallion, ginger, and soy sauce. Squeeze the cabbage to release as much moisture as possible. Discard that liquid, and combine the squeezed cabbage with the turkey mixture. Lay out 4 gyoza wrappers and spoon about a teaspoon of filling into the center of each one. Dip your finger in water and run it around the edge of the wrappers. To seal, you can either just push the air out and seal them closed, or you can pleat them to create folds along the edge. YouTube has thousands of pleating tutorials, and they taste delicious regardless! Line them up on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and either cook right away or freeze. Once frozen, you can transfer to a freezer bag and cook from frozen when you’re ready. If you have any leftover filling, you can make small sliders out of it or sauté it as you would ground beef and eat over rice.

To cook:

Heat 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil in a nonstick pan. Depending on the size of the pan, add enough dumplings so that they’re not crowding each other. Sear for 5 minutes until the bottoms are golden. Add ½ cup of water and cover. Reduce the heat to low and cook for about 8 minutes. Remove the cover and increase the heat, cooking until the water has evaporated and the bottoms of the dumplings are crisp again, about 3 minutes. Serve with the dipping sauce.

For the dipping sauce:

¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup black vinegar
1 teaspoon minced ginger (optional)

Sandra Di CapuaComment