DIYDS (do it your damn self) Chinese Dumplings

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i’m not a big birthday whore. usually, it’s a very non-descript day that ends in dinner out with baby daddy. but in the last few years, in the cutest sibling gesture ever, my brother started calling the husband, asking him what present would make me go whoah. this year, it was a gift certificate to take a Chinese dumpling class. i had seen flyers around the neighborhood and must’ve mentioned to babby daddy that i would totally give up a weekend afternoon of doing dishes/laundry/my son’s poopy diapers to leisurely spend three hours crafting pillowy, delicious dumplings. my nickname for Leigh is little dumpling and we could both easily eat our weight in those suckers. daily. the class idea was two-fold, i’m sure. she’ll have a blast aaaand maybe there will be more dumplings around this dang house. thought baby daddy. and so, on a recent Saturday, the dumpling-hungry husband took Sebe and i got to skip off to make dumplings.

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Kristina was not Chinese as i imagined she might be but she did live there for a while and can boast that she speaks Mandarin fluently. she’s been teaching Mandarin lessons around town for a long time and at home, cooking lots of authentic Chinese food. the food part got out to friends and now, once a year in the months leading up to the Chinese new year, she teaches cooking classes. bring on year of the goat!

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*isn’t she just the cutest? cutting onions, “the only way a person should!”*

the church basement Kristina rented for the class (churches have enormous kitchen, btw) was close enough to walk to and when I arrived, i found out that it was an almost private class. Kristina’s sister would also be joining us, having recently moved back to Portland from the east coast. Kristina had gotten vegetarian filling ingredients for me but you can request the meaty version as well.

in the next few hours, we talked dumpling filling, wrappers and dipping sauce – probably the part that excited me the most since in all my years of winging it when it comes to asian cooking in general, i’m the boss of the two-bottle sauce; oyster and soy, mixed together with a splash of water. salty and does the job. Kristina upgraded me. previously, i had only used hot chili oil (big fan. huge.) in the wok for stir-frying. but my booskies! you pour that ish directly into a bowl along with rice or apple cider vinegar, dark soy sauce and hot sauce of your choice (Kristina loves Sambal Oelek) and dip your heart out. it. is. so. goddamn. good.

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 we made the dumpling wrappers from scratch. FLOUR AND WATER.that’s all bitches. mind blown.

easy and super fun if you love using your hands, it just takes a lot of minutes so when i make these again i’ll either try and do them the night before or cave and buy wrappers from the store (look for round shaped wrappers over square). for the filling, just chop hella stuff you want to stuff your dumplings with. in the class we did shitake mushrooms, garlic and ginger, shallots, carrots and firm tofu. then, choose your cooking method: steam or fry. unless forced otherwise, i fry.

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the three of us stood in that big old church basement kitchen and stuffed ourselves silly with fresh dumplings and they were the bomb. we had lots of leftover filling so the next night, i went to the wifey effort and made wrappers. baby daddy loved them. baby Sebe loved them. the fam ate well that night. super thankful to Kristina for sharing her skills.


wrappers & filling to make about 24 dumplings:

to make fresh wrappers:
2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup cold water

put flour in large bowl & slowly add in water, mixing with hands to form dough
knead dough on floured surface for 5-10 minutes or until dough is stiff and springy to the touch
cover with serane wrap and let sit for 30 minutes (make filling while dough is sitting!)

to make vegetarian dumpling filling:
1 chopped onion
2 or 3 grated carrots
1/2 lb. fresh firm tofu
1/2 cup chopped bok choy or napa cabbage
1/2 cup chopped scallion
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 cup chopped mushrooms (shitake are fab but whatever mushrooms you want)

also toss into filling mix:
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon zested ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic

with all that chopped and ready in a bowl, you’re ready to flatten out your dough for wrappers!
roll dough into long rope shape about 1 1/2″ in diameter
cut into 1″ long pieces and roll out with rolling pin into little flat saucer shape that’s a bit fatter in the middle (to help support all that yummy filling)
place little spoonful of filling into center of wrapper and fold dough up around filling in half, like a taco but close up at the top, pinching and folding in edges to create crescent moon shape
that’s it! make all your dumplings and then either:

steam: drop about 12 at a time into boiling water
when dumplings rise to the top of water, pour in 1 cup of cold water and allow water to come to a simmer, then pour in another cup of cold water, repeat a third time and then they are done! spoon into bowl and enjoy!

fry: set dumplings into a medium hot wok/pan with 2 tablespoons of sesame oil until bottoms are lightly browned (about 5 minutes)
add 1/4 cup of water to wok/pan and cover with lid for 5 minutes or until all of the water has been absorbed
remove lid, turn up heat a little and add a bit more oil to fry for 2 minutes or so and they should be done!

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for dipping sauce:
you can experiment with light or dark soy sauce, rice or apple cider or any vinegar you like, sesame oil, hot sauce of your choice, chopped scallions, garlic and/or ginger!
just put a dash of each in a little bowl and dip your heart you

i hope you find yourself in dumpling heaven!!!

contact Kristina here:
portland chinese lessons@gmail.com
(503) 888-8270

local tofu sources!
otatofu.com
buinaturaltofu.com (520 NE 76th)

amazing asian markets!
An Dong 5441 SE Powell Blvd.
Hong Phat 101 SE 82nd Ave.
Oriental Food Value 8303 SE Insley St. (near Foster Ave.)
Pacific Super Market 6750 NE Broadway
Fubonn 2850 SE 82nd Ave.