One of the best things about making dumplings (other than of course the taste) is how adaptable they are. This can be said about most if not all of Chinese and Asian cuisine. Stemming from cultures that value resourcefulness, the cuisine also places great value in its ability and flexibility, in order utilise every ingredient we might have to hand.
No matter what you are cooking at home, taking little steps to create as waste-free of a kitchen as possible will only serve you in the long run. Below is a suggested filling for one of my favourite, vegetable-heavy dumplings. Feel free to swap out ingredients for whatever similar ones you have on hand.
PAK CHOI & KALE DUMPLINGS
25–30 ready-made round dumpling pastries, or thinly rolled circles of shui gao dough
2 medium or 1 large pak choi
5–6 large kale leaves (substitute with any heavy leafy greens ie: chard or spinach)
1 clove of garlic
½ a thumb-size piece of ginger
1 spring onion (scallion)
5 sprigs of fresh coriander (cilantro)
100g (3½oz) minced pork (swapsies: extra firm, fresh tofu for vegetarians)
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar
½ tablespoon pure sesame oil
Finely chop the pak choi, kale, garlic, ginger, spring onion (scallion) and coriander (cilantro) and place in a large mixing bowl, then add the minced pork and the marinade
ingredients and mix well.
To make an easy fat cat fold, place one dumpling pastry flat on a clean surface. Place roughly 1 teaspoon of the marinated mix in the centre of the pastry. Dab a little water all around the edge of the pastry, then fold the top of the pastry over the filling until it meets the bottom edge and press down, closing the edges of the pastry to make a half-moon shape.
Now, holding the side edges of the pastry, with the half-moon still pointing downwards, pull the 2 edges (cat ears) upwards to meet in the middle, creating a ‘fat cat’ shape.
Lastly, overlap the 2 top corners of the fat cat shaped pastry together and stick together with another dab of water, pinching together tightly. Do the same with the rest of the pastries and filling.
Fill a large pot or wok with water, add a pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Gently add
your dumplings and boil for 3–4 minutes, or until they begin to float to the surface, signalling they are cooked.
Remove using a spider or slotted spoon and serve with the following dipping sauce.
½ teaspoon Chiu Chow chilli oil
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
½ tablespoon light soy sauce
100ml chicken stock
Combine the dipping sauce ingredients in a small pan, mixing well. Gently heat, reducing the sauce slightly, then pour into a dipping bowl and serve with fresh dumplings.