I've probably mentioned before my love of dim sum. I adore pretty much any type of food that involves a little bit of everything, whether it's called a picnic, a smorgasbord, a tasting platter or an antipasti selection. I am irritatingly indecisive when it comes to food, so it's not really a surprise that I am a fan of being able to avoid it.
One of the best things about living with my old flatmate was that we'd regularly share meals. She is just as indecisive as me and always game for trying something new. We still tend to get together over food - chatting and catching up while cooking together, or trying a new cafe or restaurant after work. It just so turned out that neither of us had plans for Saturday night, so we decided to resurrect the old tradition of food and a film. Dim Sum was suggested, and we thought we'd venture out of our comfort zones and attempt to make our own dumplings.
A note for the purists - I have no idea how "authentic" these are. They're probably more like a cross between a Chinese guoti potsticker dumpling and a Japanese gyoza than a true version of one or the other, but either way they were delicious, and incredibly easy to make.
Most of the ingredients are fairly easy to find in large supermarkets, with perhaps the exception of the wrappers. I found these in the frozen section of my local chinese supermarket. We bought both the large square ones and the small round ones. If you can, get the latter as they're much easier to seal the filling in. We used a food processor, as it was infinitely easier but if you're desperate you could dice the meat very finely into very small pieces with a large knife - or you could use high quality pork mince.
2 duck breasts, or 3 thighs
3 spring onions, or half a leek
1 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice
1 teaspoon ginger
1 medium hot chilli
2 cloves of garlic, crushed or finely diced
1 generous tablespoon hoi sin sauce
pre-made dumpling wrappers
oil, for frying
Skin your duck breasts or thighs and remove any visible fat. If you're using thighs, pull off all the meat, leaving behind the bone, tendons and any sinew. Chop into rough pieces, and pop into the food processor.
Chop up the spring onions or leek into thin rounds, and add those in to the food processor - blitz with the duck for a few seconds, until the duck is starting to become like mince in texture and the leek is finely diced.
Add in the remaining ingredients - except for the wrappers or oil - and blitz again to mix through.
Next up: the assembly stage.
Place your wrapper onto a nonstick surface. Using two teaspoons, place a small amount - about half a teaspoon - into the centre of the wrapper. Dip the end of your finger into a mug of water and run it around the edge of the wrapper - that will help it to stick together. Fold the circle over into two, to make a half moon shape, and squeeze the edges together. Set aside and repeat.
To cook: there's a couple of ways to cook them but I find using a really good non-stick frying pan or wok with a lid (you could improvise with a wooden chopping board if needed!) is easiest and reduces likelihood of them sticking as they steam.
Heat up a small amount of oil - about half a teaspoon, tilting the pan so that it covers as much of the surface as possible.
Using chopsticks or tongs so you don't burn yourself, add the dumplings to the pot. Move them around a little so they don't stick, then fry for a minute. Carefully - throw a cup of water into the pan. It will sizzle and spit. Allow the dumplings to steam for 2 or 3 minutes with the lid on (add more water if needed) before removing the lid and boiling the water off. They will start to stick to the pan once cooked, going crispy on one side. Don't let them burn!
Serve with a dipping sauce made of half rice wine vinegar, half soy sauce, with garlic and fresh chilli to taste.