Every culture seems to have its version of dumplings, but for me it’s all about the Chinese repertoire, which is extensive. It started, for me, with potstickers. It was love at first bite, lo those many years ago – so many that I’m not quite sure where or when that was.
But I also enjoy steamed dumplings, and if I’m at a dim sum brunch, I am happy to try as many varieties as are offered, including Har Gow, the tiny steamed ones with shrimp filling.
My favorites are filled with pork or chicken and a vegetable such as black mushroom, cabbage, or celery. And I still think about an elegant and delicious vegetarian dumpling in Chinatown almost a year ago, at the Oriental Garden. Instead of the usual mangled-looking filling, these were filled with very, very finely julienned vegetables, making the inside lovely to behold. We do, indeed, eat with our eyes! (okay, and our noses.)
The dumplings pictured here were made by my friend and colleague at Princeton University, Georgia Guan. She’s been spoiling me with generous dole outs whenever she makes them, and we plan to get together sometime to make them together. These are pork and celery, there is just the perfect bit of crunch from the celery, they are wonderfully tender and delicious. Some of them had been fried, and some steamed, but I heated some of each up in a skillet with just a teaspoon or two of peanut oil. (I need to remember to ask Georgia if the same kind of wrappers were used for both, since the end results look so different.)
For a quick and easy dipping sauce, try this: 3 parts rice vinegar, 1 part light soy sauce, and a splash each of mirin and sesame oil. (Hot chili oil optional.) All these ingredients keep well in your cupboard, and it only takes a few moments to mix up a batch. (Mirin is actually Japanese, but it has a touch of sweetness I like here.)