Happy Chinese New Year!
Food is a fantastic way to celebrate any special holiday, right?! So we are making sure not to miss the opportunity to celebrate the Year of the Monkey with some yummy Chinese food in my house this evening. My oldest gingersnaps helped me make dumplings (which happen to be the food I miss the most from living in China) as part of our study of Ancient China last week. But we planned ahead and made a double batch, knowing that we wanted to have enough for tonight's dinner also. I buy the packaged won-ton wrappers from the store and go from there. Maybe one day we'll try to make our own wrappers as well!
1 pound bok choy leaves or white chinese cabbage
1 pound ground pork
1 Tbsp finely chopped scallions
1 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger
2 tsp salt
1 tsp light brown sugar
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp Chinese rice wine
2 tsp sesame oil
Blanch or steam the bok choy until soft (it doesn't take long!). Drain well, squeezing any extra liquid from the leaves, and then chop finely. Mix the bok choy with the pork, scallions, ginger, salt, sugar, soy sauce, rice wine, and sesame oil. An older Chinese woman taught me to use clean hands for this step to make sure everything is mixed really well.
Place about 1 - 1 1/2 tablespoons of the filling in the center of each plain wrapper. Dip your finger in water and lightly wet the edge of the wrapper. This will help the dumpling seal together. Pinch the edges firmly so that the dumpling is tightly sealed. You could easily find images or a tutorial video online of how to accomplish this step well.
Fill a large pot half-way with salted water. Bring to boil. Add the dumplings and one cup of cold water. As the water returns to a boil, gently scrape the bottom to ensure that the dumplings are not sticking. As the water begins to boil again, the dumplings will float to the surface. When the water is boiling, add one cup of cold water. Do this step two more times, adding one cup of cold water to the pot each time the water boils. The older Chinese woman who taught me to make dumplings gave me these "highly scientific" instructions, which have always worked for me!
After you have brought the pot of water to boil four times, your dumplings should be ready to enjoy! Remove from the water with a slotted spoon and serve with dipping sauce.
red chili oil
finely minced garlic
fine chopped scallions