Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Chinese Dumplings or 角子

I have a cleaner lady who comes over once a week to my place. One day, I suggested to her that she could teach me how to make 角子. She was delighted to do so, seeing my interest in the most popular food of her homeland. She comes from the Northern part of China, terrible I for not remembering which province she is from. Even though I speak Mandarin, albeit not extremely well, but good enough, we often have problems communicating. Thus, that was how I ended up with a wrong ingredient but it was still do-able. She asked for 白菜 & I bought cabbage. Don't ask me why but I always have this thing in my mind that the veg within the dumplings is cabbage.

This is the recipe as follows. She was very fast and I had to make sure she waited for me to jot down some notes before she could move on to the next step. Looking at the words I was putting down on paper, she commented that she knew not what I was writing. Haha. She doesn't understand English at all, except for picking up some common words like 'hello', 'bye bye', and 'pizza' during her one year stay in Singapore. I'm sure she knows a few more than the ones I mentioned.

Ingredients for dough:
4 cups plain flour
1-1/4 cup water
(form the above into a dough & knead till it becomes a nice round ball)

This part I forgot to take a photo of, but she made a hole in the middle of the dough like a donut, and then broke off a part to form this long snake as shown in picture below. She then proceeded to break off little pieces slightly bigger than a 50 cents Singapore coin, and flattened them into small round pieces.

I realized too that I did not take photos of her using the rolling pin to shape the little round 'coins' into very thin skins. I was busy making dumplings at this stage and hands were all covered in flour.

Ingredients for filling :

300g minced pork
spring onion
half a cabbage

Method -

1. Season minced pork with light soy sauce, salt & 3 dsp* of cooking oil.
2. Shred cabbage finely & season with salt. (to draw out excess water)
3. Cut spring onions very finely & add to seasoned pork.

It's the first time I've seasoned minced pork with cooking oil. According to her, it makes the meat more tender. Not too sure about that fact.

First you place some meat filling into the middle of the skin.

Then you close over so that the ingredients are not overflowing.

Next you place dumpling to rest on your index finger, and with both thumbs, press on the opening to seal it tight.


I did this whole plate of dumplings. So proud of myself. She said I was a fast learner. I told her it was because she was there to guide me. Not so confident if I had to do it all alone. But I must try it on my own one of these days. Wrapping it wasn't a problem. The intimidating part was rolling out the skins, but thankfully I managed to get it right.

This is my girl's dinner. There were leftover skins & I decided to make them into mee hoon kueh.
It is her favourite form of the handmade noodle that you get at the ban mian stall. She loved the mee hoon kueh and didn't touch the dumplings. I think it was because of the meat within (she doesn't like meat much). But anyhow, great to know that, and also now I know how easy it is to make them, we can do it at home when the craving for ban mian calls. :)

I enjoyed my dumpling lesson very much, not just in learning how to make them, but also in enjoying the end result. I didn't count how many we ended up with but it was at least 50, if not more. I gave a plateful of them to a neighbour and still have a plateful in the freezer, ready for when I need them.

I apologize for not being too detailed in my recipes. I somehow forget that non-Asians do read my blog. For Jori - You can boil a pot of water then put them in when water has come to a rolling boil, and cook them that way. Discard water & serve. You can also cook them in a pot of clear soup & enjoy them with vegetables as I have done above. I know that in the Western diet, clear soup is not something that is common and my mil doesn't like it, because to her, it tastes like water and salt, but in most Asian diets, clear soup is the way to go. Not sure if I have done a post on clear chicken broths etc, but I might do another one soon, so watch out for it.
*dsp = dessertspoons (The ones we use to eat rice)


Jori said...

The dumplings look incredible!

Now, there is one thing you forgot to mention... how does one cook these little beauties? Do you steam them? Boil them??

For us North American folks, this is a very important fact!

I love having dumplings at my local Chinese restaurant, but I am never sure how they make them!

SIG said...

Jori - Thanks, now you can follow the recipe and do it at home. It is easy. I have added another bit in the bottom of the post so please read it again. Thanks.

Beau Lotus said...

SIG, so when she said bai chai, she meant da bai chai?

I made Hub a chunky vegetable soup yesterday and he mixed it into an angmoh soup. Thing is I prefer my soup clear, once mixed it looks like baby food and I lose my appetite.

Great idea to get your lady to teach you that. And your girl is like my mom, she loves mee hoon kueh too :-)

HK Choo said...

Awesome home-made dumplings, thanks for sharing the recipe ever so generously. One question does it take long to knead the dough skin?

Susan Yuen said...

Oooh that looks awesome. I love dumplings, it's the ultimate comfort food! :)

SIG said...

Beau lotus - Well, I think so, I am not sure what is da bai cai either. It's the bek chai you use for soup or steamboat kind, I think it's Chinese lettuce? It's the one with the hard part in the middle and leaves on both sides. Hahah, funny hubby. Yes, that's the ang moh way. He must have added cream or something. Oh your mum does? I love mee hoon kueh too. What about you?

SIG said...

HK Choo - No you don't. Just knead it till it all comes together and is smooth dough. Have fun trying.

Susan - Thanks. You can try making them?

Sohcool said...

My hubby said the same thing about our soup; just like your MIL. I cooked my soup and usually blend a bowl for him like Beau Lotus. ha ha
Good to know that mee hoon kueh is so easy to do. As for the dumpling... we are not fans.

Beau Lotus said...

SIG da bai chai is chinese cabbage, you always see it hanging in the tze char stall as it can be kept almost forever.

The Hub and kids go crazy on the cream when they drink their soup. I still prefer mine clear.

As for Mee Hoon Kueh, I don't like it unfortunately.

HK Choo said...

Need a favour, can help to weigh the sgd3 minced pork when you buy it next? Easier for your other readers who are not residing in sg as well..also, should prices go up, you can know how much to get next time. TIA!

SIG said...

Yes Choo, will do it next time.