Monday, 9 January 2012

Dumpling Making Time!

Vegetable Jiaozi at the front, XLB behind.
Shanghai is famous for its dumplings - xiao long bao or pork soup dumplings in English. These little dumplings are filled with pork mince and gelatinised broth so when heated a soup is formed. Now obviously i am not going to try these things so instead i thought i'd try making them as well as some vegetarian dumplings for me :)

My parents, myself and a friend, Mike, scored a private class at Chinese Cooking Workshop, where in 2 hours we would make both xiao long bao and mushroom and cabbage jiaozi.

All the prep was done for us so all we had to do was make the dough, mix the filling and fill. Sounds simple? Well it most definitely wasn't! Our chef was lovely and very patient and helpful and with the assistance of our translator, we made dumplings that roughly resembled XLB.

XLB are round buns with pleated tops. I asked how many pleats we were supposed to make but no one could say. I think chubby western fingers don't make for delicate tiny pleats!

Stupid podgy fingers!
My xiao long bao!
Unfortunately the following day i walked past Shanghai's most famous XLB establishment and saw the lady making dumplings, possibly 10 times faster than me and they were perfect! Put me to shame! It was interesting for me to learn that the gelatinised broth isn't put in the dumpling as one cube as i had thought, it was virtually minced and incorporated in with the pork mince.
.....someone struggled a bit more than others!

Next we made the vegetable jiaozi. These were so much simpler - no pleating of the dough involved! The filling contained diced shiitake, black fungus, cabbage, white pepper, salt, sugar, sesame oil, rice wine, ginger, green onion and light soy. After kneading, rolling, more rolling, squishing and more rolling of the dough, they were ready to be filled. The filling was easy - a spoonful in the centre, bring the sides of the dough together to form a half moon shape and seal using the web between your thumb and first finger.
Jiaozi filling
My Jiaozi!

After cleaning our benches the dumplings were all steamed for 10 minutes and then we sat down to enjoy them with vinegar Shanghai-style. It was amazing, steaming the XLB seemed to hide many of their flaws! They tasted pretty good even though some of them looked seriously dodgy!

Cooked XLB

It was a great class and the best thing i took from it (apart from how talented XLB chefs are) was how to make and roll proper dumpling wrappers.

Off to Yunnan province today. Will be an adventure!

Sarah xx