Monday, August 16, 2010

Gorgeous Dumplings

There is something incredibly comforting about dumplings in broth - and my travels in Singapore, Cambodia and Vietnam have given me a real appreciation for not only eating this style of dish, but also the joy of making your own dumplings. I love that each dumpling is lovingly fashioned by hand and the attention that is put into each one. There are so many different fillings that you can put into dumplings, I have eaten pork, vegetarian versions with spiced tofu and green vegetables, Shitake mushrooms, fish and chicken - but my very favourite is the subject of today's recipe - a delicious light combination of scallops, prawn and water chestnut (I buy the small tins from my local Asian grocery shop, but I'm pretty sure many western supermarkets stock them these days)

These dumplings are so easy to make - even easier when you do what I do and buy the Gow Gee pastry instead of making your own! You will find Gow Gee pastry at any Asian grocer - they are usually sold in packs of 30 and are already rolled and ready to go. They freeze extremely well, so grab a couple of packs so you can whip up dumplings whenever the urge takes you. The filling will also freeze well, so if you are only cooking for one or two, you can freeze the Gow Gee pastry and the filling in a seperate container. Just defrost and assemble the dumplings when you are ready.

My recipe serves the dumplings in a lovely lemongrass scented broth, but you can just have the dumplings as they are, with a touch of soy. They make a nice entree or even finger food for a cocktail party. I like mine served with lots of fresh chilli, but you can omit the chilli completely if you prefer a mild dish. For me, nothing beats these delicious dumplings and aromatic broth for a beautiful comforting meal, with a touch of the exotic.

Prawn and scallop dumplings in lemongrass broth

You will need:
(for the dumplings) 300g Prawn meat, 200g scallop meat (Roe removed), 8 whole water chestnuts, 1 eggwhite, 1 teaspoon sesame oil (Plus a little extra to serve), salt and pepper, 1 pack Gow Gee wrappers (you can buy these from any Asian supermarket and they usually come in packs of 30), 1 whole egg, 1 teaspoon of water.

(for the broth) 1litre vegetable stock (I used Campbell's brand), 1 large stalk fresh lemongrass cut into about 8 large pieces, 1 bunch fresh coriander (roots and stalks removed and chopped roughly), 2 Tablespoons finely sliced spring onions, a couple of finely sliced red chillies (less or more, depending on your taste)

Combine the prawn and scallop meat, water chestnuts, eggwhite, sesame oil and a touch of salt and pepper in a food processor. Combine until smooth.

Beat the whole egg with a teaspoon of water and set aside.

To make the dumplings, place the Gow Gee wrapper on a chopping board and put about a teaspoon full of filling in the middle. Avoid over filling the dumplings, or they will be hard to handle and may burst as they cook.

Brush one edge of the pastry with the egg mixture and then pinch the sides firmly together to make a half moon shape. When I do this, I sort of fold the edges a little (like curtain pleats) so that the egdes are very firmly joined. You don't want the dumplings to burst when you cook them. Repeat until you have used up all of the filling.

To make the broth, simply allow the vegetable stock and lemongrass to simmer for about 15 minutes, then strain out the lemongrass (it is too tough to leave in when serving)

To serve, bring a large pot of water to the boil and cook the dumplings for about 5 minutes. Drain them and place them in serving bowls with some fresh coriander and chilli to taste. Ladle over the lemongrass broth and drizzle with a few drops of sesame oil. Serve right away.

This recipe will serve 4-6 people.


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