Ever wondered how they get the soup inside the soup dumpling?
When I open the bamboo steamer, I smell the porky broth and the briny, sweetness of shrimp. And then, when the initial steam subsides, I see the bubbles boiling in the rich broth through the translucent skin.
Despite burning the roof of my mouth every time I slurp up that first soup dumpling, I am still blown away by the magic of being able to put boiling soup into such a delicate edible wrapper. It's always fun for me to ask students at the beginning of my soup dumpling class at Brooklyn Kitchen how they think we are going to get the soup into the dumpling. This recipe and instructional blows the top off this dumpling magic trick.
I have written a recipe for basic O.G. soup dumplings in my book, but I love the brashness of mixing pork with luxurious shrimp, which is something this recipe does so well.
My recipe consists of four parts:
While I use store-bought wrappers regularly, I always use homemade wrappers for soup dumplings. For soup dumplings, the wrapper must come up around the sides of the filling and be pinched into a top knot so that the sides are seamless enough. Only fresh wrappers are supple enough to stretch and stick to themselves in order to get the job done.
Start out by making the consommé, wrappers, and sauce. You'll then use the consommé to make the filling, which you should keep chilled so it stays thick—it will be easier to scoop that way.
Once you have the filling and the wrappers ready, follow these steps to shape and cook your dumplings:
Cut the dough in half and keep half covered. Roll the uncovered half into 10 equal pieces.
Working with one piece of dough at a time and keeping the others covered with plastic wrap, roll the dough into a very thin 5-inch (12-centimeter) round on a lightly floured surface. A small dowel works best for this.
You want to roll from the center out, keeping a quarter-sized pad of thicker dough in the middle, and turning the dough with each roll to get an even circle.
Rotate the skin with your left hand as you roll it out with your right hand. The edges should end up really thin so that they don't get clumpy when you pleat them at the top of the dumpling.
Place 1 tablespoon of filling in the center of the wrapper.
Dab a little water around the edges of the wrapper.
Pick up the four "corners" of the wrapper and pull them in toward the center so the filling can settle into the base.
Pleat the wrapper between the corners to enclose the filling, then pinch the dough together right above the filling, where all the pleats meet.
This is the hard part, so concentrate now! Press the dough above the pinched center to flatten the edges to resemble a tiny flower.
Place on a parchment-lined half-sheet pan. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
Fill a wok with water to a depth of 3 inches (7 1/2 centimeters) or so. You basically want as much water as you can get in there without it touching the bottom of the steamer, so pop the steamer on the wok and add or remove water as needed. Bring the water to a boil.
Meanwhile, line two bamboo steamers with napa cabbage leaves or strips of parchment paper. Place the dumplings on top, spacing them 2 inches (5 centimeters) apart. Steam until the wrappers and fillings are cooked through, 6 to 7 minutes. If your wrappers are thin enough, you should see the soup bubbling inside.
Serve in the steamer, instructing guests on the art of eating a soup dumpling:
1) Gently pick up a dumpling with the sides of chopsticks (the tips could poke a hole!) and sit it in a Chinese soupspoon. Take a small nibble from the skin to make a hole. Careful! The steam shooting out will be hot!
2) Slowly sip some of the soup out of the hole you've just made. Blow first if it's way too hot. You don't want to burn your tongue.
3) I like to use a narrow spoon to put a bit of the vinegar sauce inside. Now go for it!
Makes about 20
For the chicken consommé and the wheat flour wrappers:
3 pounds chicken wings
4 ounces Smithfield ham
1 cup sliced scallions, white parts only
2 ounces sliced peeled fresh ginger
3 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 large garlic clove, peeled
1 tablespoon mushroom soy sauce
2 teaspoons Shaoxing wine
Two 1/4-ounce packets powdered unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
For the wheat wrappers:
2 1/2 cups (363 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
3/4 cup hot (but not boiling) water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup cold water
For the soy-vinegar dip:
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 garlic clove, smashed
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the dumplings:
2 1/2 ounces (70 grams) peeled and deveined shrimp
8 ounces (225 grams) fatty (80/20) ground pork
3 tablespoons minced scallions
2 tablespoons minced onion
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 cups chicken consommé (from above)
Napa cabbage leaves, for steaming
Wheat flour wrappers (from above)
Final photo by Bobbi Lin; wok photo by James Ransom; all others by Lucy Schaeffer