We recently ran a tour of Kenny Lao's kitchen in the East Village. Kenny, who owns Rickshaw Dumpling Bar in New York, cooks a mean dumpling and I felt like I was in great hands for my tutorial.
We worked together to write up a recipe — as Kenny says, dumplings are not an exact science — with the hope that you might give it a whirl. Wouldn't tonight would be a good night for dumplings? Kenny suggests using ground turkey because it's a little healthier than pork but still flavorful. Try to get the meat ground fresh by the butcher, and if using turkey, specify dark-meat only (it's a little tastier.) Kenny says he overloads on ginger and cilantro so back off a bit on the amounts if either of those flavors are not your favorite.Rickshaw Dumplings Adapted from Kenny Lao makes about 80 dumplings, depending on wrappers used
1/2 head of Napa cabbage
1 tablespoon salt
1 pound fresh ground turkey or other ground meat
1 bunch scallion, chopped
1 bunch cilantro leaves, chopped
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons minced ginger
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
2 eggs, beaten
2 packets round dumpling wrappers (most brands have 30-45 wrappers per package)
vegetable oil for frying
For the dipping sauce:
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sriracha or other hot chili sauce
Cut the cabbage crosswise into thin strips. Toss in a large bowl with salt in a bowl and set aside for 5 minutes. Take handfuls and wring out the moisture. Dump out any remaining water in the bowl. Combine the cabbage with the turkey, scallion, cilantro, soy sauce, ginger, sesame oil, pepper and eggs. Mix well with a large spoon or, preferably, your clean hands.
Set yourself up in a spacious work area with the dumpling wrappers, a little bowl of water and a large cutting board or cookie sheet. Grab a helper or two. Lay out a dozen or so dumpling wrappers. Place about 1 tablespoon filling in the center of each wrapper. Dip your fingertip in the water and trace the outside edge of the wrapper with water. Fold the wrapper over to make a half circle and make a pleat at the top of the curve. Pinch in the sides then lift up the edges to meet the center, creating a pouch. Pinch the top together and bend out the sides slightly to curve.
Heat a skillet over high until very hot. Add 1 tablespoon oil (a little less if using a non-stick pan) and coat the sides. Place enough dumplings in a single layer to line the pan, then stand back and carefully pour in a 1/2 cup of water (enough to immerse the dumplings by 1/2-inch.) Cover and cook until the water is absorbed.
Holding the pan with a hot pad, place a large plate or platter as a cover on the pan and invert. Scrape the dumpling out with a spatula (careful of non-stick surfaces.)
Repeat with the remaining dumplings.
To make the dipping sauce, combine all ingredients in a small bowl.
Serve dumplings hot with the dipping sauce.
(Images: Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan)
(Originally published January 26, 2009)