Experiment: Boiled Lamb Dumplings – 羊肉水餃
I love dumplings of all kinds and I decided to use some of the leftover lamb from our Easter dinner to make a nice little supper for me and the wife. I have had lamb dumplings at a few different restaurants, both boiled and fried, and I generally find them a little bland. Cumin really goes well with lamb so I thought I would add some to these ones for a little extra flavor…
- ¾ cup regular flour
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- Approximately ¼ cup boiling water (not shown)
- Extra flour for rolling
The easiest way to make the dough is in your food processor. Put the flour and cornstarch into the processor, close the lid and turn it on (low speed is fine). Now, begin pouring in the boiling water just a little bit at a time. At first, small granules will form and they will get larger as you keep adding water. Then, quite suddenly, the dough will form a ball. The very instant that happens, stop adding water and turn off the processor. Remove the dough and knead it well for a few minutes. Finally, put the ball of dough into a covered container and let it rest for at least a half hour.
- 1 ½ cups ground cooked lamb
- 3 scallions
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp. cornstarch
- 1 tsp. cumin seed
- 1 tsp. each salt and pepper
First, toast the cumin seeds in a dry pan just until they start to darken and give off a nice aroma then grind them in a mortar. Chop the garlic and scallion finely.
Beat the egg in a bowl and add all the remaining ingredients. Mix well and knead for a moment or two until the meat forms a soft, cohesive mass. You may wish to add a tablespoon or so of water to help this along. Set the filling aside in a covered container until ready to use.
- 2 tbsp. Soy Sauce
- 2 tbsp. Rice Wine
- 1 tbsp. Sugar
- 2 tbsp. Chili Sauce (I used Lee Kum Kee Chili Black Bean Sauce)
- 1 scallion (green part only, chopped)
Mix all the ingredients together and set aside.
The amount of dough and filling ingredients will yield anywhere from 15 to 20 dumplings depending on the size. I decided to make 16 and divided the filling into 16 even portions, rolling each one into a little ball for easier handling.
You can also divide the dough into portions but, unless you can roll and form dumplings very quickly, it is advisable to only cut a few portions at a time to save the dough from drying out. Each portion should then be rolled out to a circle about the diameter of the width of your palm and a ball of filling placed in the center.
There are different ways to form dumplings but the shape you see above is very common for this type. Basically, you just fold the wrapper into a semi-circle whilst pleating one side. It is a little tricky at first, but there is a pretty good video here that illustrates the process.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a low boil and drop in the dumplings (do this in batches unless your pot is really big, otherwise you will cool the water down too quickly). The dumplings will sink but will rise to the surface after a few minutes. Let them cook for another 4 or 5 minutes and then fish them out. Divide them evenly in small dishes with some sauce poured over the top.
These turned out to be better than any lamb dumplings I have ever had in a restaurant. The cumin really added a lovely note and the overall flavor was deliciously complex. My wife said she found that the sauce was a little too salty for her but she tends to like things a lot less salty than most people. My only reservation was with the size of the dumplings. They were perfect size for the fried ‘pot-sticker’ variety but they were a little bit too big for boiled… it was necessary to use a soup spoon to eat them in the same way you eat Xiaolongbao. On a final note, while I almost always have a couple of dumplings tear or come apart during boiling, I am happy to report that on this occasion they all came through unscathed.