Friday, February 22, 2013

Monday BunDay--Asian Dumplings

This month's cookbook is Asian Dumplings by Andrea Nguyen. Tea Time was very excited about making our own bao. We coerced our friend Stephanie to help us and took over at J.K.'s house to take advantage of her gadget and appliance collections. After measuring the ingredients for the dough for our bao, we poured them all into her bread machine so we could concentrate on the fillings.

The scale! A most important part of the dough equation.

Bread machine all loaded up and ready to start.

After the kneading cycle, we placed the dough in a clear glass bowl so we could watch it rise.
Make sure you choose the correct recipe, there are two: Steamed Dough (p95) or Baked Dough (p97).
Now we're ready to mix the stuffings and sauces. We decided to make both a meaty filling (Char Siu Pork p100) and the veggie filling (Vegetable and Tofu p101). There are also other options that had shrimp or chicken! Each recipe came with its own sauce and thickener (cornstarch based) which Stephanie was in charge of mixing up. Angela sauteed the various ingredients on the stovetop and then we played the waiting game while they cooled and the dough rose. Full Disclosure: We ate Dim Sum while we waited.... Angela had also got some combo steamed buns, shrimp pai gau and a few other choice morsels when she picked up the pork. Who can resist??

Char Siu Pork from (one of) the Chinese spot(s) by Angela's house. 
Sauce mixin's.
Pork and scallions, FTW.
Veggies, ready, set cook!
The cabbage all cooked down. Next time we'd cut the veg smaller.
Pork on right, Veggie stuffing on left.
Dough cut into (more or less) even pieces.
We didn't have mini rolling pins, so Angela cut up a dowel and we treated it with 'wood butter' before rolling out our "egg" shaped dough cradles. We made sure to follow directions and leave the 'pillow' in the middle.

This is our interpretation of the "fired egg" shape you need to make dumplings.

Pork filling before being closed for baking/steaming.
Edges pinched together and tucked under.
We didn't have a proper steamer, so we used J.K.'s spaghetti pot.
Pork steamed bun.
Veggie baked bun.
We all enjoyed our bun making. Plans are in the works for a 'soup' dumpling Monday, and Tea Time is ready to master (??) the art of getting their buns sealed. This cookbook is a bible if you'd like to become a Dim Sum Savant, however Angela and JK are content to spend $3 around the corner and get what we need without a lot of planning. If ever we move away from easy to find, easy to buy Chinese goodies this cookbook will jump to the top of our list. It's definitely boosted our respect for the men and women who make those perfect packages that we see baked, steamed and fried behind the Chinese bakery/Dim Sum counter. In fact, a new spot has opened on Clement that lets you stand outside and watch the 'bakers' working their dim sum magic by wrapping the fillings up in dough. Professionals!! We bao to you and your experience and love to eat the fruit of your labors. Thanks! If you aren't lucky enough to live in SF (or any city with a Chinatown) grab and 'cook the book' Asian Dumplings. You'll be very popular, we promise.

They may not be so pretty, but they were a labor of love.