Pork Dumpling Test Kitchen
Over the past few years Neil and I have been wanting to intentionally grow our natural connections between the IVCF campus and camp ministry teams in close proximity to us. It just makes sense when you are in fact a work family. The best part of working on this has been getting to grow closer to friends in ministry across the prairies. Nurturing these relationships has therefore brought us closer together personally and sub sequentially in ministry as we work together for common goals.
Sharing time together in the kitchen is one of our favorite ways to build community and friendships, and is such a natural posture to then learn each other’s cooking techniques and culture. Thinking and talking about how we were taught to cook can lead to realization on how it has innately shaped the way we care for our selves. To even acknowledge those values may be hard to pinpoint without seeing them from the viewpoint of another person, and these times can hold the opportunity to explain something in a way you had never thought of it before.
Around the kitchen we talked about the way we learned from older generations of our family members, and how it can be hard to preserve a family dish when it is so unnatural to take time to measure and note precise instructions. When it is a menu item that gets prepared on a weekly basis and is prepared by a sole person, as the creator of the dish you get used to how it should look; how big the mound of seasoning should look in proportion to the bowl or pot it is in, and that a pot of that size will feed the family with enough leftovers for lunch the next day and so measurements are not necessary at the time.
Cooking is all about factors that we can’t always control like humidity, heat, and ingredient quality which leads to inaccurate recipes. When you look at old kitchen notes on recipe book pages, misinterpreting comments like “cook until it is done”, or “a pinch”, or “a heaping cupful” are truly going to make or break your re-creation of Gramma’s dish. Our disappointment when it is not at all like we remembered the dish to be is hard to overcome and discouraging! Yet I encourage you to still seek out those times where you re-create food from your past in an effort to establish it in your own family today, because the way you make it will be the way the next generations will remember it, and they also will want to be able to replicate those memories.
So when we planned to make some dishes from Rachelle’s family menu last night, of course we were going to go all out and make it into a test-kitchen experience! Our first try on gluten-free dumplings turned out quite perfect in my opinion, and we thought it was just the right thing to share with you. My 20- years of experience with using a wide variety of flours paid off and our mix was just-right for the cooking method we went with. With regular dumplings, they are pan-seared in a medium- hot pan with some oil, but the gluten free dough needed the extra step of steaming the dumplings prior to searing. The secondary steaming once the bottoms of the dumplings were nice and crisp was essential for both the regular and the gluten free offerings.
While these dumplings could be seen as a classic Chinese dish, I think many of our cultures have a meat-filled something, that holds the same place in their menus as this dish does.
Ingredient note: ground lamb is a great substitute for ground pork, or you could try it first half and half with ground pork.
GF note: it is hard to find a GF sub for oyster sauce, but there is one online by Lee Kum Kee (green label). Sub any GF soya sauce.
Directions: Place all the filling ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix by hand until combined well. Place in the refrigerator.
Makes enough for 4 doz. dumplings
1 2/3 pounds (750g) ground pork
2 bunches green onions, sliced thin
3 Tbs oyster sauce
1 Tbs soya sauce
1 Tbs sesame oil
1 tsp black or white pepper
1/4 tsp fine salt
Dumpling Dough (gluten free)
Makes 16-24 dumplings
While regular dumpling dough can be simply made with unbleached all-purpose flour, a bit of salt, and warm/hot water the gluten free equivalent requires a carefully balanced mixture of several alternative flours.
1/2 cup sweet white rice flour
1/3 cup sweet white sorghum flour
2 Tbs potato starch
2 Tbs white rice flour
1 1/4 tsp xanthan or guar gum
hot water, as needed
Combine the dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl while heating up about a cup of water.
Mix in 1/3 cup warm/hot water to start, and if needed add in 1 Tbs increments, stirring well in between additions. The dough should be not quite moist to the touch but almost dry, and not crumbly.
Cover and let it rest for 30 minutes.
Prepare a stove-top steamer with enough water in the bottom and wax paper on the bottom of the basket to prevent sticking. Turn on medium heat with the lid on.
Portion into 16-24 pieces, rolling them into balls and then working with just one at a time to make rounds that are only 2mm thick.
Fill each with about 2 -3 tsp of filling. Keep a small dish of water nearby to rub along the seam before pinching the dumpling closed.
Place the dumplings into the steamer, for a total of 8 minutes and probably in two batches.
Put a frying pan that has a lid onto the stove and heat to medium heat, adding about 1 -2 Tbs canola oil. Place steamed dumplings into hot pan and cook until they are golden on the bottom (2-3 minutes).
Then pour about 1/3 cup hot water into the pan and cover immediately.
Steam again for about 4 minutes - the water should be all gone.
Remove from the pan and place onto a serving dish. If the dumplings stick, add a bit more hot water and they should come off.
Create your own dipping sauce with an assortment of the following options: balsamic vinegar, rice wine vinegar, chili oil, sesame oil and soya sauce.
Serve immediately. Alternatively, freeze the formed dumplings prior to cooking or after the initial steaming.
Patience is a virtue, and well worth resisting opening the lid too early during the final steam!