Soooo, there’s nothing deep about this. Some people have eaten dumplings with me and they liked them and seeing as I am not in Manhattan, KS any longer they want the recipe, so I will write it down here as best as I can. I didn’t start cooking until my sophomore year of college, and there’s no great mystery to how I cook. Just get familiar with what you like and you’ll sort of know instinctively what spices to put together. At least that’s how I’ve always cooked. I did use to look at recipes, but I got sick of them telling me to put crap into my dishes that I’ve never heard of before and is only available at specialty stores and some strange black magic shops. So basically I look at pictures of food and I just get my ideas from that.
This is a Chinese dumpling recipe. I don’t remember its name, in Japanese we call them gyoza, at Panda Express I think we called them wantons or something like that. A mentally erratic Kansas girl showed me how to make this back in the summer of 2006. The first time I made this on my own was with my pale skinned roommate, Greg. Originally I was going to try to make pasta using an ancient Chinese throwing technique. Unfortunately I didn’t make near enough dough for that, so then I decided to make chicken n’dumplings, and then I realized that the only vegetables I had laying around were cabbage and onion, so then I thought I’d make an Asian dish. I think Jessica called this Jatzou or Jatzi or something like that, but I’m pretty sure those are nonsense words, one of them might be a breed of dog… and with her fluctuating mental capacities any time she said nonsensical things I just dismissed it as lunatic ravings…
The dough is easy. If you can’t make dough go buy the wanton wrappers at the grocery or international foods market. You’ll note that there are no amounts in my ingredient list above. That’s because I eye ball everything, no measuring cups. I’ll try to refrain from using clichés like “a pinch” or “a smidge.”
Dump the flour into a large bowl. Add a little salt, some pepper, toss in some sugar and an egg. Add a little water. Usually I think the flower to water ratio is like 2:1. BUH. Just add some and start mixing. You want the dough firm, not sticky, so be careful to not add too much water. This is where a guy is useful, because mixing dough takes a while and some muscle and it is boring so get a friend to do it while you work on everything else or watch Scrubs reruns. If you or he screws up, relax! Just add more flour. Cooking should be fun and relaxing, not stressful.
Cover the dough with a towel or something and let it sit for a while. I think the correct time is technically 30-60 minutes, but I’ve let it sit from anywhere between 5 minutes to 5 hours, I never noticed much difference.
The stuffing of the dumplings is a mixture of meat, cabbage, onion, and spices. I always try to have more meat than I think I’ll need. 1lb feeds about 4-5 girls, or 1 set of Matt and Greg. Mix the meat with some minced cabbage, half a head or so. Dice up some onion and throw it in too. Take a coupe pieces of garlic. Smash them with the flat side of a knife, makes them easy to peal and draws out flavor (Yuuki and Rachel Ray’s favorite part). Add those too.
Now the spices that you use can be from a wide and varying. I add salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, ground ginger, soy sauce, oil (sesame preferably, vegetable is okay). Mix that together.
The dough has to be flattened into small circles or squares. If you have a rolling pin this is where you would finally use it. If you don’t then steal one from your friend or use your hands to pound little balls flat.
With a cup of cold water wet the edges of the flat piece of dough and then put the filling in. Pinch it shut. Repeat this until you’ve run out of filling or dough. Of course if I run out of dough first I just make more, not like it takes long.
There are a number of ways to cook these. Steamed, fried, boiled… I like to brown them on both sides, then boil them for 5-10 minutes. I don’t really keep track of the time.
The sauce is a mixture of soy sauce, rice vinegar (or regular), sugar, and crushed red pepper.
That’s pretty much it. This meal is best to make with one or two friends. If you don’t have friends this is a good meal to invite people over telling them you’re going to feed them, and them delegating most of the work to them.
My friend Reiko said it well. “Eating with company is better than eating alone.”
All the best.
P.S. Does nobody mothers teach them how to cook these days? I feel like a freak of nature. My mom didn’t really teach me, but I paid attention to what I was eating. Maybe that’s why America is unhealthy. Food goes in, but there’s just appetite, no appreciation. And we feed ourselves past satisfaction, but never understand how to truly enjoy artistry. It’s not difficult. This extends so much further than the kitchen.
I guess you can mix cooking and philosophy. Sorry.