Chinese-Style Dumplings

Yield:
48 dumplings
Ingredients
  • Dough:
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups hot water
  • Filling:
  • 2 boneless duck breasts and legs with skin, put through meat grinder fitted with medium blade
  • 1 cup finely chopped savoy cabbage
  • 3 tablespoons freshly chopped scallions
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro leaves
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped chives
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons chili paste
  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Sauce:
  • 1 cup black vinegar
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon chili paste
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro leaves
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped mint leaves
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped Thai basil leaves
  • 1/2 habanero pepper, minced
  • Peanut oil, for cooking
  • Cilantro leaves, for garnish
  • Lime wedges, for garnish
Directions

This recipe makes 48 dumplings-a large batch. If you halve the recipe, use the whole egg, and, if it's more convenient for you, just use 2 boneless duck breast halves. If you have the patience to shape all of the dumplings, just freeze some of them; they will keep, tightly covered, for 2 weeks.

For the dough: Whisk the flour with the salt and stir in the water until dough is shaggy. Turn onto a lightly floured board and knead briefly; dough should be soft and pliable but not too sticky. Rest, covered, while you make the filling and the sauce.

For the filling:

Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix until thoroughly combined. To check for seasoning, fry a bit in some hot oil until just cooked through. Adjust the seasoning as necessary.

For the sauce:

Combine all but the last 2 ingredients in a bowl for dipping. Sprinkle the basil and habanero over the top.

To Assemble and Cook:

Flour your work surface lightly and roll the dough, or pieces of it, about 1/8-inch thick (too thin and the dough will tear as you fill the dumplings). Cut out circles with a 3-inch round cutter. Cover the dough with a side towel or piece of plastic wrap as you work.

Have a small bowl of water next to you. Place a scant tablespoon of filling in the middle of a dough circle, and press it so that it spreads slightly toward the side edges of the dough. Using your fingertip or a small pastry brush, wet the edge of the dough. Fold the dough up around the filling so that the filling sits on the work surface-that's the bottom of your dumpling-and the seam is between your fingers. Pleat the dough that is facing you, about 6 times, pressing it against the back to seal-only the front of the dumpling should be pleated. The corners of the dumpling should curl slightly away from you, toward the unpleated side.

Heat a skillet, just large enough to accommodate the number of dumplings you want to cook over high heat. Add a thin coating of oil, heat, then add the dumplings in concentric circles. They should be touching. Cook until the bottoms are golden brown, 3 or 4 minutes (reduce the heat if they are browning too quickly). Add enough water to come about 1/4 of the way up the sides of the dumplings-it will spatter. Cover the skillet, adjust the heat so that the water is simmering, and cook for about 7 minutes. Uncover the skillet and, if there is water left, let it cook off. Check the dumpling bottoms-if they need to brown a bit more, let them, adding a bit more oil if necessary.

Serve the dumplings immediately, drizzled with some dipping sauce and garnished with cilantro and lime wedges.


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