I stopped in the grocery only to get milk the other day and somehow by the time I got past produce, I had decided to get the ingredients for dumplings. There had been a story in the paper about Chinese New Year, and it was like a time bomb ticking. (I have mostly had to stop calling it Chinese new year, by the way. I had a Korean student a few years ago who confided that it really bugged him when people said Chinese New Year, instead of Lunar, or Asian. It’s a hard habit to break, though)
I had a roommate just after college, Mei, who was from Shanghai, and she taught me how to shape these little dumplings. The filling she used was pork-based.
I made mine last night with fake crab- krab with a k. My frugality bit me here- crab, or krab, is so mild flavored that I didn’t want to spend big bucks on something that would pretty much taste like ginger and onion. Looking back, though, I only used part of the package, maybe 4 ounces, so it wouldn’t have broken me to use real crustacean. If I lived closer to the ocean, I probably would. When Mei taught me to make these, we steamed them to ensure the pork cooked all the way through. Since the krab is already cooked, this is less of a worry. I steamed about 9 dumplings while the rice for the rest of our dinner was cooking, and fried the rest.
Oh my gosh. They are good both ways, but wow. the filling is bright, and the oil was hot enough, and I was eating them quickly enough, that they were better than I’ve had in a restaurant. I wouldn’t fry these for a party, because they’d lose that texture, and it would be a big pain in the ass. But to make them for me and DH (and we ate an emabrrassing number) wasn’t too bad, frying a few at a time in 1/2 an inch of oil in a small frying pan. We leaned on the counter and talked about our days after he got off work, to the tune of sizzling oil.
I didn’t really use a recipe for this filling, although I did google a bit for proportions. You’ll see from my parentheticals that this is extrememly variable. Put in the things that you like- DH didn’t say it, but he probably would have liked this better with chili paste in it. Watch, this will be the blog post that he comments on! It would be great with ground pork, or beef, or salmon, or scallops. Or tofu, if you insist.
Krab Dumplings (this quantity served 2 shameless people)
4 oz flake style krab (or whatever)
1 knuckle sized piece of fresh ginger, minced
1 tablespoon minced onion (Traditionally green, but I had purple, so that’s what I used)
2 or 3 drops vietnamese fish sauce
1 splash rice vinegar (or lemon or lime juice)
1/2 package wonton wrappers (use the rest to make Krab rangoon next week)
Finely mince the onion and ginger, shred the krab and mix together. Put it all in a bowl and add the fish sauce (a little goes a long way here- it adds salt and savoriness, but too much and you’ve got 7th grade feet) and a splash of rice vinegar (my rice vinegar is unsweetened, but if you have the sugary kind, use it- I wouldn’t use regular vinegar, because it is way more acidic.)
I like round dumplings, so I use a juice glass to cut the corners off the square wrappers. Keep the wrappers covered so they don’t dry out, and try not to let them touch each other, or they’ll stick. It is surprizing how little filling goes into these. Half teaspoon, really. When you overfill them, they burst, or the liquid leaks out and makes the oil spit and sizzle.
Now, the girl and I made a video showing how to fill and seal the dumplings, then I discovered I will have to pay extra to upload it to this blog. I balked. Maybe I’ll put it on Facebook. So, now I’ll narrate the video as if you are watching it. Umm…so take the wonton skin and put a half teaspoon of filling in the center, then dip your finger into the water and run it along the edge of one side. Press together in the center, then dip your finger again and poke in the corners.
Steam: place in steamer basket or colander and put over boiling water with lid. Cook until wrapper is transparent. Some people put a lettuce leaf under the dumplings so they don’t stick, but I didn’t and last night didn’t have any trouble.
Fry: I use my smallest cast iron skillet, about 6 inch diameter, and heat about 1/2 inch of canola oil til it shimmered. I was going to check the temperature with my thermometer, but then the boy got upset with me because I told him he spelled Jurassic wrong, and all hell broke loose. Fry a couple at a time until they are goldn brown and delicious, place on a paper towel to cool. DH thought any dunking sauce was gilding the lily, bless his heart, but I used a little orange sauce (from a bottle- I’m not perfect)
Asian New Year is February 3 this year- I love stretching out the holiday season, and I can justify this better than having a big groundhog celebration. Happy New Year to you!