Exploring Asian supermarkets is always an adventure for me, I absolutely love getting lost in the aisles of foreign products and adorable servingware. I go in for a packet of dried shiitake mushrooms and somehow leave with new plates, steaming baskets, packets of deep fried shallots, aloe vera juice and anything else that sparks my interest. My lack of self-control is apparent, and a little bit fantastic. Who doesn’t love a Sunday night dumpling feast?
Exploring the pages of my Gourmet Traveller, I found a recipe for sticky rice dumplings and couldn’t resist dog-earring the page – a sign to myself that something delicious lies on that page and needs to be returned to at a later date (inevitably more than half the magazine ends up with folder corners to await my return). If I ever finish all the marked recipes I’ll let you know – but for now, I wouldn’t hold your breath…it’s a work in progress.
So let’s talk dumplings.
I love Chinese food and having an extended family member who owns his own Chinese restaurant has given me an incredible eye-opener to the very traditional side of this cuisine. I remember one Christmas he closed his restaurant and opened only to his family for a feast of some thirty or more dishes. I was so full at the end of the six hour affair I wasn’t sure that I could move…no joke. It was everything you didn’t expect and I loved every moment of that day.
Having a member of my family who is Chinese has given me a very good insight into the world of Yum Cha (or Dim Sum to others). He always knows the best dumplings to pick and makes me try all manner of things, from chicken feet to red bean buns. I always cherish my time spent with him and his family.
Dumplings are like individual works of art, they shouldn’t just be scoffed down without at least a short moment of appreciation to realise the amount of care taken to select amazing ingredients for the filling and the time and skill taken to create each piece – you need only spend a brunch at a Yum Cha restaurant to appreciate the variety of dumplings there are. My abilities are nowhere near that of the delights you’ll find covering the bountiful trolleys of your local Yum Cha restaurant – but I’ve given it a go anyway.
I love sticky rice parcels – anytime I see them in the trolleys at Yum Cha I immediately order two – one for me and one for the rest of the people on my table. My version isn’t necessarily traditional, but it is delicious. We ate it as a main meal and I couldn’t be happier with the result. These little parcels of sticky rice goodness would go great at a dinner party as part of a larger dumpling feast – they can be made smaller than I have made them and therefore split across more people. Give them a go – I doubt you’ll regret it!
Prep time 40 minutes, cook time 1 hour 10 minutes (plus soaking)
6 banana leaves (or lotus leaves)
400gm glutinous rice, soaked in cold water for an hour
1 Tbs peanut oil
15gm ginger, finely grated
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
4 skinless chicken thigh fillets, cut into bite sized pieces
60g lap cheong, thinly sliced
20gm dried prawns, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes, drained and coarsely chopped
40gm dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes, drained, stalks trimmed and coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp Shaoxing wine
2 ½ Tbsp dark soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp caster sugar
6 spring onions, finely sliced
Roast chilli vinegar:
2 Tbsp each grapeseed oil and rice vinegar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
3 tsp dried chilli flakes
1 tsp each sesame oil and caster sugar
- Drain rice, spread in a large steamer basket lined with muslin, cover with a lid and steam over a saucepan of simmering water until tender (40 – 45 minutes). Transfer to a bowl, and set aside to cool, stirring occasionally with a flat wooden spoon to break up clusters
- Heat oil in a wok over high heat, add ginger, garlic, chicken, lap cheong and prawns and stir-fry until chicken is opaque (2 – 3 minutes). Add shiitake and Shaoxing, and stir-fry until liquid evaporates (1 minute). Add rice, stir, then add soy, sesame oil and sugar, and stir-fry until combined. Remove from the heat and add spring onions, season to taste with white pepper
- Place banana leaf on a clean surface, then take a sixth of the mixture and, with wet hands, shape into a rough 5cm x 10cm rectangle, place on the leaf and wrap, folding in sides to enclose, and secure with kitchen string. Repeat to make 6 bundles. Place in a large steamer over a large saucepan of simmering water and steam until fragrant and soft to touch (20 – 25 minutes)
- Combine all ingredients for the roast chilli vinegar, drizzle over open parcels to serve
*Recipe from Gourmet Traveller