Handmade Asian Dumplings at The Pantry at Delancey – Ballard, Seattle
Posted Monday 23 April 2012on:
I have a fading memory of my uncle making dumplings (餃子). I don’t remember where or when the family gathering was and I don’t recall eating them but there is a faint image of his nimble fingers deftly pleating the wrapper, patiently making dozens for the dinner party. An exchange of emails with my father confirmed my uncle’s dumpling skills.
The lovely Kimberly was my companion at the Handmade Asian Dumplings class at The Pantry at Delancey. I had intended on snacking on a Jersey salad at Delancey prior to the cooking class but had forgotten the restaurant is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Instead we perched on the azure stools on the deck at The Pantry and chatted.
Located behind Delancey, The Pantry has a herbs and vegetables garden.
A custom made timber table is the centrepiece. The space is practical and welcoming, a celebration of countryside kitchen and communal dining.
Blushed tulips in a mason jar, bottles of olive oil in a vintage crate and local jams, preserves and jellies (Deluxe Foods) were some of the provisions for sale.
Dumplings mise en place prepared by the volunteers.
A glass of sparkling Rosé was a refreshing apéritif.
We munched on crispy wonton skins and spongy tofu cubes (豆腐泡) as appetisers.
In America via Malaysia and Australia, Kathleen Khoo was our teacher. She was an affable lady with an cheerful persona. On the menu were ‘water dumplings’ (水餃), Japanese gyoza, deep fried wonton (炸雲吞) and siu mai (燒賣).
Kathleen demonstrated how to make a basic dough and an egg dough. ‘Just like pasta’, a dumpling dough is formed with flour, water, egg and a pinch of salt. Once combined, the dough was kneaded quickly and firmly until silky and pliable. The dough was then rested before flattening into wrappers.
We paired up to make a basic dough and an egg dough.
Kathleen explained some of the Asian ingredients such as shredding only the green parts of the Napa cabbage as the whites have a high water content.
A tray of condiments included hoisin sauce (海鮮醬), mirin, sake, sweet chilli sauce, sesame oil (芝麻油) and Shaoxing wine (紹興酒). A splash is enough as the condiments are pungent.
As our dough rested, we emptied the various containers of the mise en place and stirred the components together for each of the fillings.
You can buy packets of dumpling wrappers from Asian grocery stores and supermarkets but it is easy, economical and healthier to make fresh ones.
Water dumpling wrappers can be made in a tortilla press. We learnt to do it by hand with a narrow rolling pin. The egg dough was rolled in a pasta machine.
Being organised is essential to successful dumplings. The surface should be lightly floured, spoons or chopsticks to portion out the fillings, corn starch for dusting the wrappers, a basin of water to seal the dumplings, and cotton tea towels to cover the wrappers and dumplings to prevent them from drying out. The rested dough was rolled into a sausage shape and cut into inch wide lumps.
A vibrant green, sprigs of coriander were roughly chopped as garnish.
Sauces in earthy shades were poured.
My first handmade dumpling!
The water dumplings were crescent parcels of minced pork, shredded Napa cabbage, aromatics and seasoning. They were boiled, tossed in a store bought spicy dumpling sauce and adorned with coriander. Thick and doughy, the slippery dumplings were meaty.
The crimped edges of the Japanese gyoza were fun to make. These sturdy morsels of minced pork and prawn chunks were seared in a non-stick pan and steamed in stock. Golden bottomed and translucent, the juicy and robust gyoza was my favourite.
Wontons were folded into nurse’s caps, deep fried and served with sweet chilli dipping sauce. I prefer wontons boiled in a broth ladled over noodles.
Siu mai, an open dumpling that is a staple dim sum (點心) at yum cha (飲茶), were a dexterous challenge. Traditionally made with twelve pleats, I maxed out at seven! The siu mai were plump bites laced with the distinct flavours of shiitake mushrooms.
Bunches of Chinese cabbage were quartered and steamed as a side. The first bamboo basket was too wilted but the second was just cooked, the stalks crunchy and the leaves tender.
Dumpling making is the perfect rainy weekend activity!