Recipe: Made-from-scratch pork dumplings
For the dumplings
- 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 pound ground pork
- 1/4 cup chicken broth
- 7 fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and minced
- 1/2 cup minced napa cabbage
- 3 scallions, minced
- 1-1/2 teaspoons peeled, minced fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1-1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon Korean red-pepper flakes
- 1 clove garlic, peeled
- 1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 cup cilantro
- 3 scallions, thinly sliced
- Coarsely chopped roasted peanuts
You can buy dumpling wrappers ready-made, but Michael Chen's recipe will make you wonder why anyone bothers. Simply combine flour and water into a smooth dough and roll it under your palms into a rope. To make each wrapper, pinch off a lump of dough and roll it into a circle. It's so easy, and the cooked wrapper tastes fresher and more tender than a commercial wrapper, which can sometimes be a little tough. For the best results, pull off about half an inch of dough for each wrapper and roll it into a 4-inch circle.
Be sure not to add too much chicken broth to the filling. It should be moist but still quite firm. If it's too damp, the dumpling won't close up tight, and when you drop it in the boiling water, the seal won't hold.
The garlic-chili oil for drizzling over the finished plates calls for both regular red-pepper flakes, which provide heat, and Korean red-pepper flakes, which are much milder and provide a more rounded, fruity flavor. If you can't find the Korean pepper at an Asian market, it's fine to leave it out, but don't double the regular pepper flakes to make up the difference. It will be far too hot for comfort.
To make the dumplings
1 Mix the flour and water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until the dough is smooth, elastic, and not sticky. Cover and set aside.
2 Place the pork in a medium bowl and stir in enough broth, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the mixture has the consistency of thick pudding.
3 Add the mushrooms, cabbage, scallions, ginger, soy sauce, vegetable oil, salt, and pepper and mix well. The mixture should be very moist and shiny, but should hold its shape when scooped out of the bowl.
4 Using your hands, roll out the dough on a floured surface into a long rope between 1/2 inch and 1 inch in diameter.
5 Cut the rope crosswise into 24 cylinders. Working with one dough cylinder at a time, flatten it into a small quarter-size disk in the palm of your hand, then roll it out into a circle that is 3 to 4 inches in diameter
6 Place a spoonful of the pork mixture in the center of each dough round. Moisten the dough edges with water and pinch the edges to enclose the filling and seal.
7 Place the dumplings on a baking sheet, not touching. Cover the dumplings and refrigerate until ready to cook.
8 Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the dumplings in the boiling water until they are plump and rise to the surface, about 8 minutes.
To make the garlic-chili oil
1 Combine the vegetable oil, sesame oil, regular red-pepper flakes, and Korean red-pepper flakes in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan.
2 Cook over medium-low heat until the oil is infused and aromatic, about 5 minutes.
3 Strain the oil and discard the pepper flakes.
4 Return the oil to the saucepan and add the garlic. Cook over medium-low heat until the garlic loses its pungency, about 5 minutes.
To make the dipping sauce
Mix the vinegar, soy sauce, and sesame oil in a small bowl.
1 Toss the cilantro and scallions in a small bowl.
2 Mound the mixture in the center of 6 plates.
3 Divide the dipping sauce among 6 small ramekins.
4 Arrange 4 dumplings on each of the 6 plates.
5 Drizzle the garlic-chili oil over the dumplings and salad.
6 Garnish with the peanuts and serve immediately.
Serves 4 (makes 24 dumplings)
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Excerpted from MasterChef: The Ultimate Cookbook by The Contestants and Judges of MasterChef. Copyright © 2012. Photography by Tara Donne. Excerpted with permission from Rodale Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.