Friday, January 13, 2012

Chinese jiaozi two ways

Zester Daily has just put up an article by me on how to host a jiaozi (or dumpling) party. This now includes the embedded video I made showing in detail how to form these tasty little raviolis at every stage, from mixing the dough to serving.

I will be showing you three different jiaozi fillings. This time it will be a pair that feature meat, while the next article will talk about a lovely vegetarian filling, as well as how to make the wrappers from scratch. 


These two meat versions get to appear first for no other reason than they are simply just too good to pass up: cinnamon scented Muslim style beef, as well as one with juicy shrimp and pork. 



Mixing up the beef filling...
The Muslim style filling was made to match memories of the deliciously aromatic ones made by a little eatery at the corner of Hoping East Road and Roosevelt Road in downtown Taipei. This place is long gone, but the delicious memories of this northern style restaurant linger on. Spotless and always crammed with happy diners, this was the first place -- and also the last place -- where I'd ever had this kind of filling. Recreated from hungry recollections, this one will please any meat eaters at your party.

To contrast with the northern sensibilities of the beef jiaozi we have a Cantonese style filling from southern China. This is a lush, vibrant mix of best quality pork with large shrimp chunks that snap between the teeth. 


All are delicious and all are easy to make ahead of time. See the Tips below for some suggestions on making the fillings. Directions for the wrappers will be found on Zester Daily, and a link will be included here as soon as they are up.

and the pork with shrimp


Muslim-style beef jiaozi filling 
Qingzhen niurou xian 清真牛肉餡  
Beijing Muslim
Enough for about 18 jiaozi

1 pound best quality ground chuck (not too lean)
¼ cup finely chopped fresh ginger
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon, optional
2 tablespoons regular soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
Ground black pepper to taste
4 large leaves napa cabbage
1 teaspoon sea salt
4 green onions, finely chopped

Slice the cabbage by rolling up the leaves
1. Up to 2 days before filling the jiaozi, mix the ground chuck in a work bowl with the ginger, cinnamon, soy sauce, sugar and pepper. Pack into a container.

2. Finely chop the cabbage by rolling it up tightly before slicing it, and then cutting the slices into small pieces. Place the cabbage in a colander in the sink and toss it with the salt. Wait about half an hour and then squeeze the cabbage dry in your fists. If you are not filling the jiaozi immediately, layer the cabbage on top of the meat filling, cover and refrigerate.

3. Just before filling, toss the beef filling with the cabbage and onions. Adjust seasonings (see Tips), and then fill the jiaozi.


Shrimp and pork jiaozi filling
Xianxia zhurou xian 鮮蝦豬肉餡 
Guangdong
Enough for about 18 jiaozi

8 ounces fresh or defrosted frozen shrimp
1 pound best quality ground pork (not too lean)
¼ cup finely chopped fresh ginger
3 tablespoons regular soy sauce
2 tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine
1 teaspoon sugar
Ground black pepper to taste
4 large leaves napa cabbage
1 teaspoon sea salt
4 green onions, finely chopped

Friends chatting at our jiaozi party...
1. Up to 2 days before filling the jiaozi, shell and devein the shrimp, if necessary. Coarsely chop them (into ¼ inch pieces) and mix them in a work bowl with the pork, ginger, soy sauce, rice wine, sugar and black pepper. Pack into a container.

2.  Finely chop the cabbage by rolling it up tightly before slicing it, and then cutting the slices into small pieces. Place the cabbage in a colander in the sink and toss it with the salt. Wait about half an hour and then squeeze the cabbage dry in your fists. If you are not filling the jiaozi immediately, layer the cabbage on top of the meat filling, cover and refrigerate.

3. Toss the pork and shrimp filling with the cabbage and onions. Adjust seasonings (see Tips), and then fill the jiaozi.


Tips

while others enjoy eating...
Flour. In this recipe, as well as in every other one of Chinese pastry recipes, I call for Korean flour, which is similar in gluten content to Chinese all-purpose flour, but is of more consistent quality. As with French and Italian recipes, American flour results in a tougher dough, while Korean flour provides a gentle suppleness combined with just enough snap that you end up with perfect Chinese pasta. The mixture of American flours listed below as an alternative is a distant second when it comes to good results, as gluten qualities and freshness vary so much. You can find Korean flour at many East Asian markets.  

Freezing. Uncooked jiaozi freeze beautifully, so try to make more than you think you will need. Freeze the extra uncooked jiaozi on a cloth-covered baking sheet; make sure that they do not touch each other or else they will stick together. As soon as they are very hard, remove them to a resealable plastic freezer bag and return to the freezer; boil the jiaozi without defrosting them first.  

Any leftover cooked dumplings can be lightly fried in a few tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat until golden all over, and they are just about as delicious as the freshly boiled ones. Do note that you cannot steam these jiaozi, as these use what is called a “cold dough” (only room temperature water is mixed into the flour), while steamed ones call for “hot dough” (where boiling water is stirred into the flour).

and some toast the New Year
A perfect flat surface. One of the best places to roll out dough (or knead bread, for that matter) is the underside of a pullout chopping board. Most people use only the top side of the board to cut things on and forget that there is a nice, unblemished surface underneath. If you are lucky enough to have such a board, place a damp cloth on your counter to keep the board from moving around and place the board on top of that. Then, when you are through making the wrappers, be sure that you turn the board right side up before you put it away in order to protect its smooth surface.

Add the onions and cabbage last. Raw onions can overwhelm a dish and take on a slightly foul aroma if not cooked immediately. Likewise, cabbage can become watery if added to the filling to early, even if salted first. So, I recommend that for meat fillings, you pack them into containers, layer the salted squeezed cabbage on top and don’t add the onions until the last minute. The vegetarian filling, too, should wait until the last minute before the onions are mixed in.

Adjust seasoning as desired. Fry a small amount of the filling (no additional oil should be necessary) and taste it to adjust the seasoning; more sugar, oil, salt or any other fine-tunings can then be made right before you fill the dumplings. 

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