Sunday, March 27, 2016

How to make Dumplings and Dumptings!

My 3-year old LOVES, LOVES Grace Lin's Ling and Ting books. Every time we visit the library, she will run to the bookshelf and pull out one of the Ling and Ting books. Ling and Ting are identical twin sisters who seem to do everything together. They don't look exactly the same since Ting got a botched haircut so her bangs are crooked. The series of Ling and Ting books are easy reader books. My 3-year old isn't reading yet, but the books are very simple and easy for her to understand. She tells me she likes the books because Ling and Ting wears pretty dresses. I guess my 3-year old has a serious case of dress envy.

After reading Ling and Ting Not Exactly the Same for the gazillionth time, my children asked me if they could try some dumplings. I happily obliged since they can be finicky eaters at times, and I would never turn down an opportunity for them to try new food. I suggested that we make dumplings just like Ling and Ting did in the book. My 3-year old said that she wanted to make dumptings as well as dumplings. We made the dumplings and dumptings, and they were a hit!

Through reading books, not only have stories taught my children new vocabulary, stories have inspired my children to try new food in this particular case. That is a win-win in my book!

We followed TheKitchn's dumpling recipe but ended up tweaking it a bit to suit our family's taste bud and for what we had on hand.

1/2 medium head Napa cabbage (about 1 pound)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 pound ground pork
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2-inch piece fresh ginger, grated on a microplane or finely minced (about 3 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 large eggs, whisked
2 (12-ounce) package round dumpling, wonton, or potsticker wrappers

Instructions for Assembling Dumplings

  1. Slice the cabbage and mix with salt: Slice the half-head of cabbage down its length, through the root, to make 2 quarters. Then slice each quarter into very thin strips, cutting cross-wise. Toss the slices with the salt in a large mixing bowl and set aside for 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Squeeze the liquid from the cabbage: While it rests with the salt, the cabbage will start to release liquid. When it's ready, grab handfuls of the cabbage and squeeze out the water. Transfer the squeezed cabbage to another mixing bowl.
  3. Combine the cabbage with the rest of the filling ingredients: To the bowl with the squeezed cabbage, add the ground pork, soy sauce, ginger, sesame oil, and eggs. Work the mixture together with your hands or a spoon until fully combined.
  4. Arrange your dumpling-making station: Clear a space on the counter. Set a small bowl of water, the bowl of filling, and a parchment-lined baking sheet nearby. Open the package of dumpling wrappers and arrange a few on the work space in front of you.
  5. Place 1/2 tablespoon of filling on each dumpling wrapper: It doesn't look like much filling, but using any more gets messy and makes the dumplings hard to pleat closed! Once you get the hang of pleating the dumplings, you can try adding a bit more.
  6. Dampen the edge of the wrapper with water: Dip your finger in the bowl of water and run it around the edge of the dumpling. This will help it to seal closed.
  7. Fold the dumpling in half: Lift the dumpling from the work surface and fold it in half. Press the top closed.
  8. Make a pleat in either side: Use your opposite thumbs to fold a tiny pleat on either side of the dumpling, then press firmly to seal the dumpling closed. You may need to dab a little water under the pleat to make it stick closed.
  9. Repeat with all the wrappers and filling: Continue filling and pleating the rest of the wrappers using the remaining filling — this is where having a few extra hands comes in handy! As you finish each dumpling, line it up on the parchment-lined baking sheet.
  10. Cook or freeze the dumplings: You can cook the dumplings immediately, or freeze them on the baking sheet. Once frozen solid, gather them into a freezer container and keep frozen for up to 3 months.

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