So I just wanted to share a few pics from my latest attempt at jiaozi with you guys... they're getting better and better. I went to a Spring Festival celebration put on by my campus's Chinese Students and Scholar's Association (the group I'm taking Mandarin lessons from, haha). About 100 folks showed up, and we all made dumplings together. A few of the students showed me some new (prettier) ways to fill and fold the dumpling wrappers, so the next day I went home and tried to make them by myself. I used three fillings: BBQ chicken, bok choy and chicken, and nutella... mmm. Also, since I crunched for time that day I ended up frying them instead of boiling them. They weren't as pretty (or as healthy), but they were pretty dang tasty. I'm definitely getting better at this.
Chinese Dumplings with BBQ Chicken Filling
2 cups AP flour, sifted
1 cup water
(makes about 40 wrappers--you really won't need this many, but I was making some other kinds of jiaozi along with BBQ chicken)
8 boneless skinless chicken strips (or 2-3 boneless skinless breasts)
1/3 c green onions
1/2 clove of garlic, minced
1 tsp Worchestershire sauce
as much dang BBQ sauce as you want--make sure it's your favorite! (I used Sweet Baby Ray's original--good stuff!)
So, to get your dumplings started you probably wanna do the wrappers and get those out of the way first. Combine your flour and water in a large bowl using a wooden spoon (or your hands), until it becomes a nice dough. Then work the dough with your hands for a while and knead it really well until it's nice and smooth. At this stage you should be very generous with your flour. Flour your hands, flour your kneading surface, flour the dough if it's too sticky to deal with. You should probably knead for a good 5-10 minutes.
After the dough is smooth, let it rest in a covered bowl for 30 minutes to an hour. Coat it with plenty of flour so it doesn't stick to the bowl.
After the dough has rested, flour your hands and a clean surface very well. Divide your one ball of dough into about 4 smaller balls, and then work these balls of dough into round ropes. Take a large knife (at the CNY celebration, we used meat cleavers) and chop the ropes into smaller pieces widthwise. You should end up with approximately forty little dough medallions. Remembering to be very generous with your flour, flatten these a little with the palm of your hand and roll them into thin circles with a rolling pin... then they're ready to be filled and sealed!
The filling is really simple. Put your chicken pieces in a skillet with a little bit of oil and let them cook on medium/low, slowly. While the chicken is cooking, mince your green onions and garlic and toss them into a bowl with your worchestershire sauce. After this you can crank up the heat on the chicken a little bit until it's all the way cooked. Now traditionally the meat is mixed in raw, but I didn't want to take any chances with chicken, as it can carry so many more contaminates than pork.
After the chicken is cooked, allow it to cool for a few minutes, and then mince it and toss it into the bowl with the green onions, garlic, and worchestershire sauce. Add your BBQ sauce to taste, but make sure it's enough to bind the mixture together. Mix it really well, and you can either refrigerate it for later, or fill your wrappers.
To fill and seal your wrappers, first flour a pan to put the sealed dumplings on. Take a wrapper, and use a spoon to fill it with a small amount of filling. Use your thumb and index finger to seal the top of the dumpling, and from there you have a variety of options:
a. twist the loose edges of the wrapper around the top to make a pretty little ornate dumpling with a round bottom;
b. fold some of the dough from each side of the dumpling inward and seal the outer edges to make a pretty, simple half-moon dumpling;
c. holding the dumpling where you sealed the top-middle, take a small flap of dough, fold it over and press it against the center. Next to that fold, further from the center, take another small flap of dough and press it where the first fold began, then seal the rest of that side with your fingers. Repeat the process on the opposite side of the dumpling. This should make the dumpling "sit" (see the first picture, above).
d. do your own thing. They'll be delicious no matter how they're sealed!
I fried this batch, which is really really simple. Coat the bottom of a cast-iron skillet with oil (I used sesame), and get the oil nice and hot. Throw in your dumplings and cook them quickly, flipping them regularly so each side can get crispy. Let them chill on a paper towel for a few minutes, and they're ready to eat! Serve the dumplings with some BBQ sauce for dipping.
Coming soon: red-velvet cake, made for my parents' anniversary!