Chirba Chive Dumplings recipe
From “The Southern Food Truck Cookbook” by Heather Donahoe, Nelson Books, $25.99
Makes 20 to 25 dumplings.
Special equipment: Chopsticks, bamboo steamer basket
½ pound ground pork
4 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil
4 teaspoons sesame oil
4 teaspoons soy sauce
4 teaspoons mushroom soy sauce
¼ teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3 tablespoons potato starch
½ cup Chinese celery, chopped*
¾ cup Chinese chives, chopped*
¼ cup scallions
1 package dumpling wrappers*
1 head Napa cabbage
Black Chinese vinegar, for serving*
Combine the pork, vegetable and sesame oils, and regular and mushroom soy sauces in a large bowl and mix well. Add the sugar, salt, pepper, ginger, and potato starch and mix well. Add the celery, chives, and scallions and thoroughly combine into the meat mixture. Make sure the scallions are the last addition, as the onions can contribute a slimy texture when marinating in the meat for too long. Now, go wake up your dough!
Grab some friends. A dumpling-making party is big fun for a group (that is how Chirba Chirba began, after all). Assign some people to pleat and one to boil/steam!
Place a spoonful of filling (start small and work your way up -- less filling is easier to pleat) in the center of your wrapper. Here, you’ve got form and function to consider. The function of your pleat should be to seal the meat inside the wrapper so that no filling can escape during the cooking process. You can do this simply by folding the wrapper over the filling in a half-circle shape and pinching the edges closed. You’ll need a little dish of water to wet the edges in order for the wrapper to stick to itself around the filling.
The idea behind the pleating process (the form) is to make the dumpling pretty with various pleats and folds. To do this, fold your wrapper in half around the meat and pinch it on the top. It looks like a taco but sealed at one point at the top. Place the taco round side up on your index finger that should be hook shaped pointing sideways and hold it steady with your thumb (that has the same curvature as your index finger). Now bring your other hand on the other side of the taco and press the edges of the dumpling against your curved index finger with your two thumbs. The positioning of your thumbs around the edge of the dumplings will feel very awkward at first, but you’ll get used to it. If you don’t curve your thumbs, then you’ll just end up squeezing the meat filling out of the sides and then you’ll have to start over.
Don’t be discouraged; practice makes perfect! You can find lots of helpful videos online with different pleating techniques.
To steam: Prepare a bamboo steamer basket over a saucepan of boiling water. Make sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the basket. Line the basket with Napa cabbage leaves and place 7 to 8 dumplings at a time on top of the cabbage. Steam the dumplings for 10 minutes.
To boil: Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil over high heat. Drop half of the dumplings into the boiling water. When the water returns to a boil, add a cup of cold water. Repeat two more times. Serve with black Chinese vinegar.
* All these products are available at Asian grocery stores.
Note: Chinese celery is thin stalked and has a stronger flavor than traditional celery sold in grocery stores. Feel free to substitute regular celery in a pinch.