Thursday, May 26, 2011

Try this at Home: Ms. Li's Jiaozi (Dumplings)

Jiaozi, or dumplings, are little moon-shaped dough balls with a veggie or meat filling. You can put anything inside, but here's a recipe for dumplings with green beans and beef. Our ayi, Ms. Li, makes these, so it is a true Beijing recipe for about 60 or so dumplings. For a vegetarian recipe, you could easily replace the meat with more vegetables or tofu.

rice flour, about 500 gram
water, luke warm (about 30 degrees)
green beans (about 2-3 big handfulls)
minced beef (In het Nederlands: gehakt)
1 egg
soy sauce (if you have it, use both dark and a light soy sauce)
sesame oil
For the sauce:
rice vinegar

Making the dough

Kneeding the dough.

1. Put the flour in a bowl and add 1 cup of water. Just keep kneeding and adding water till you have a good dough that is a bit elastic, but not too dry or too wet. (I know, not very precise, but that's all I got).

2. Put some plastic over the dough, and let it rest for at least 15 minutes.

Dough ball in plastic.

Making the filling

Finely chopped green beans.

1. Bring water to a boil. (This is for the green beans)
2. Chop up the green beans in tinier than tiny pieces.
3. Put the green beans in the boiling water for about 5 minutes. Take out and drain.

Addding egg to meat.

4. Put the minced beef in a bowl, and add the egg and 1-2 tablesppons of light soysauce, 1-2 tablespoons of dark soy sauce, 1-2 teaspoons of sesame oil, and about 3 teaspoons of vegetable oil (I know, your cardiologist may not approve), and a little bit of salt. Mix it all together. If you want to feel Chinese, try mixing it with chopsticks.

The sauces for the meat.

Mixing meat with egg.

Secret ingredient.

5. Add the secret ingredient: Maggi seasoning. I am sure in ancient China they did not do this, but Nestle brings it on the market here and must be doing great business as my ayi recommends it as additional flavoring for about every dish she makes.

Green beans mixed with meat.

6. Add the green beans (nicely drained and the water squeezed out) to the meat and mix it up. The filling is done!

Preparing the dumplings

1. Make tiny littles balls from the dough.

Making little pads of dough.

Simon is folding the dumplings.

2. Roll the little balls one by one out into a little circle. It's important these circles are indeed circles, and that the dough is not too thick. Try to make it nice and smooth and thin.

An ocean of dumplings.

3. On one little circle, put a little bit of the filling - something like a table spoon.

4. Fold the circle in half (with the dough in the middle), and now gently with your fingers press the sides together. You are trying to make a half-moon shaped dough ball, with the filling inside. Make sure you've got all the sides closed tight.

Here's a good video that shows you what to do. My ayi makes the "peapod" shaped ones. (Mine usually come out as lumpy potatoes.)

5. Repeat step 2, 3 and 4 till your fingers are blue and you have a nice pile of dumplings. Meanwhile, boil some water (with a tad of salt) for step 6.

Boiling the dumplings:

1. Bring a big pan of water to a boil (this is for the dumplings). Add some salt.
2. When the water boils, add about 20 dumplings to your pan. The water will likely stop boiling (that's OK).
3. When the water comes back to boil, add 1 cup of cold water. The water will again stop boiling.

Boiling the dumplings.

4. When it comes back to boil again, add a 2nd cup of water.
5. When the water comes back to boil for the 3rd time, take the dumplings out and drain them.

Making the sause

Rice vinegar for the sauce.

Chop up some garlic and mix it in with the rice vinegar.

Yum, dumplings!

Enjoying it all
Dip the dumplings into the sauce and enjoy. Use chopsticks if you dare.

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