Xian Market Lamb Dumplings
I first published the recipe for the dumplings you see above a little over 8 years ago. They were inspired by a picture I saw of dumplings being cooked by a market street-vendor in the Muslim quarter of Xi’an, a city in Northwestern China. The lamb filling can easily be replaced with beef, or other meats, and the wrapper folding is the easiest style possible. Novice dumpling makers will master them easily.
This is the picture I saw. It was taken, and reproduced with the kind permission of Suanne, who published a blog post about a visit to the market-place in question. The posting is happily still online, and you can visit it at the Chowtimes blog to read more about her culinary adventures.
Suanne reported that the dumplings were available with different meat fillings, and that they were served with a Chili paste on the side. She does not say which sort of meat she had in her dumplings, nor how the filling was seasoned, but for my recipe, I have selected spices and other aromatics suitable to the region.
Here, you can see the ingredients for making my Xian Market Lamb Dumplings. The only thing not shown is some additional flour for dusting as you roll out the dumpling wrappers.
The ball of dough shown below represents one recipe of my Basic Dumpling Wrapper Dough. This requires one cup of flour, and I recommend using hot water rather than cold.
The Recipe Card below simply calls for Chili Paste. I used a Sichuan Chili Bean Paste, or Doubanjiang, for this recipe, but you can use any paste you like. A simple Sambal Oelek, or even a Korean Gochujang will work nicely.
First, grind your cumin seed together with the peppercorns. Add these to a bowl along with the rest of the ingredients (except for the dough and extra flour, of course) and mix together well with your hands. Next, use a wooden spoon and stir the mixture forty or fifty times until it becomes sticky.
Stir in one direction only so that the meat fibers all align and you have a nice smooth mix. Set this aside to rest for at least 30 minutes. I often put dumpling fillings in the freezer for about twenty minutes before actually forming the dumplings as it makes the mix easier to handle.
Now, divide your dough into 16 equal amounts and roll each part into a ball. You can, if you like, do this with the filling mixture also as it helps, I find, to keep your finished dumplings a uniform size.
Take one ball of dough and, using extra flour as necessary to prevent sticking, roll it out to a circle roughly about a hand-span in diameter. Shake off any excess flour then lay a line of filling down the center of the circle.
Now for the folding… Simply pull one side of the circle over the filling and then do the same with the other, overlapping the first. You don’t need to pleat, pinch the ends, or do anything else other than set the dumpling aside on a lightly oiled plate for now. Repeat the steps for each of the remaining dough balls.
Heat a pan over medium heat and add a liberal glug of cooking oil. I cooked my dumplings in two batches and kept a good 4 tablespoons of oil in the pan during the whole process. Add your dumplings seam side up and allow to cook for several minutes until the underside is golden.
Turn the dumplings and cook the other side until they are nicely crispy and golden brown as well.
Plate, after blotting off any excess oil, and serve while hot with a dipping sauce of your choice. I served my dumplings with a little Sichuan Chili Bean paste and sugar slightly diluted with just a little vinegar.
Your Recipe Card:
Xian Market Lamb Dumplings
- 1 recipe Basic Dumpling Wrapper Dough;
- Extra four for rolling.
- 2 cups ground Lamb;
- 2 large Scallions finely chopped,
- 6 cloves Garlic minced;
- 1 tbsp. Sugar;
- ½ tsp. Salt;
- 1 tbsp. Chili Paste;
- 1 tbsp. Cumin Seed;
- 1 tbsp. Black Peppercorns;
- Grind together the Cumin Seeds and Peppercorns and add them to a bowl with the Lamb, Scallion, Garlic, Sugar, Salt, and Chili Paste.
- Stir the above mixture thoroughly in one direction repeatedly to form a sticky paste-like texture and chill for at least 20 minutes.
- Roll out the dough into sixteen circular wrappers approximately 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter, then fill and wrap in your preferred style.
- Cook the dumplings in a pan over moderate heat using a generous amount of oil until golden brown all over.
- Serve hot with a dipping sauce of choice.