When I got back from my last long trip, all I wanted was to pop into London and have something to eat. Straight from the airport. No bookings often means a queue, and too long a queue sometimes (a 2 hour wait at Hoppers, I love you guys, but no!). We trotted north of Soho to Charlotte St, and to Roka, a restaurant that I love and don’t visit often enough. It is popular and busy, but there is always room at the bar, and the bar has a decent if short menu too.
I cannot resist the lure of a good dumpling, so I always order some. Plump, proud and encased in a tender proper skin, the dumplings on offer were beef and ginger. They haunted my next morning, memories of the flavour and the texture. I went to the butcher and procured some good minced beef which I brought home to experiment with.
I went through a few versions before settling on these. I wanted a proper ginger punch, a surprise HELLO, well it is nice to see you but I really wasn’t expecting to see you here! If you have time and the inclination I do recommend that you make the dumpling wrappers. They are so easy to manipulate, less likely to tear and have a much better texture. You can freeze and extra you might have also.
These are perfect for Chinese New Year too, which it is – Ta-Da! – Kung Hei Fat Choi!
Notes on the recipe: if you can get dumpling flour use that, or mix all purpose (plain flour) with cornflour to replicate the texture. Pasta flour works a treat too, I actually used that here. Whatever you can get! These are usually pleated, and I usually do, but this time I just pressed them, and you know, this may not be completely authentic, but they still taste just as good!
Recipe: Beef and Ginger Jiaozi (Dumplings)
makes a lot of dumplings! About 36, depending on the size
450g minced beef
50g ginger, peeled weight, roughly chopped
4 spring onions, roughly chopped
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
salt & pepper to taste
some oil like groundnut for frying
a pack of shop bought dumpling or gyoza wrappers
250g flour (dumpling flour, all purpose 225g + 25g cornflour or pasta flour – see note above for detail)
75ml warm but not hot water
a pinch of salt
serve with: black vinegar with finely sliced ginger, or soy sauce with finely sliced ginger. A little chilli oil is lovely if you are a chilli head.
Make your dumpling wrappers first, if making them. Add salt to the water and stir until dissolved. Then add the water slowly to the flour, mixing with your hand as you do. You want the dough to form a ball, but not to be sticky. Add more water a little at a time if you need to. (The flour you use may need more, or less). Knead for 10 minutes by hand or 5 minutes in a mixer with a dough hook. Wrap in cling film and leave to rest for half an hour.
Combine all of the ingredients for the dumplings except the salt and pepper. You won’t need much salt as the soy sauce has lots of salt in it. Season then fry a small ball of it to check the seasoning and adjust if necessary.
Prepare the wrappers by rolling the dough until quite thin. You can do this by hand by either rolling the whole thing at once, although it is easier to roll an inch wide cylinder and roll a pinched off bit at a time. Sometimes I roll it with my pasta machine (to thickness 5) and then cut circles using a wine glass.
Put a teaspoon of filling in the centre of a wrapper. Brush the edges with water using a pastry brush or just your finger. The biggest mistake people make is to overfill the wrapper and then they burst or tear as you fold them. Press the edges together between your fingers, making sure they are completely sealed. Repeat until you have no wrappers and mix. (You can freeze excess well. Freeze the dough whole, or freeze dumplings in one layer, you can freeze the wrappers between sheets of greaseproof paper).
You can steam these or you can fry them. This time I fried them. Boil the kettle then put a couple of tablespoons of oil in a heavy frying pan (skillet) that you have a well fitting lid for. Heat over a medium high heat, and put as many dumplings as you can comfortably fit without them touching in the pan. Fry until brown and crisp underneath, then add about a centimetre of water from the kettle. Cover with the lid and steam for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and let the remaining water boil off.
Serve immediately. Enjoy!
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