3 to 1: DM (My partner in food crime and co-partner in D and D Food) and I are hired to cater a 50 person party for two NY Based architects who just won a design competition to build a bridge in a region of China. Using the bridge as our theme we decide to do dumplings... shaped like a bridge, using regionally inspired ingredients that would be typical of the province where the bridge is to be built. To keep it local, with a seasonal edge, we ponder the idea of serving the dumplings with rhubarb, made into a spicy chutney "dip". It does not feel authentic Xinjing Chinese, but it does feel authentic to D and D. We end up using local Brooklyn market rhubarb (that we bought a few weeks before and froze) made into an almost Indian style chutney-like compote with hot sauce and soy for dipping.
Take 3 ingredients and make it 1: Duck, pork or shrimp with pork?
Now how to cook them? Take 3 methods and decide on 1: Pan fried then steamed, steamed or just plain old boiled.
I read the blog of http://userealbutter.com/ (Which is awesome by the way) She describes all the steps clearly in making your own dumplings and mentions that her mother mixes the dough for the dumplings with chopsticks. (Can you imagine? I can barely aim towards my mouth with chopsticks, let alone mix together a useable dough)
We taste test a couple of days before the gig, also drinking a cooling gin cucumber cocktail that DM makes up that we hope to serve on the party night with the dumplings.
1) Duck --plain off BBQ duck from Chinatown, stripped off the bones and minced.
2) Duck -- with tamarind sauce. You can order this from your favorite Chinese/Asian place in a pinch. My local Chai in williamsburg (http://www.chai-restaurants.com/) has a great duck in tamarind sauce. and unknown to them but for our benefit they send the duck chopped neatly alone and the tamarind sauce in a separate container. That way you can mix as much sauce with the duck as you need.
Designer Erin Jang, (theindigobunting@blogspot) recommends the one dumpling wrapper I must use. She can't remember the name but sends me packing to Chinatown with instructions to look out of a distinct green and red packaging, and warning me that these ones are decidedly thicker, won't break apart if I choose to boil them and are foolproof no matter the filling. (Sounds good to me!)
The winner is duck. As for method of cooking I try all 3: boiling, and pan frying then steaming and just plain old steaming. The pan fry then steam comes out as the best method. Duck has a lot of fat in it, and when seared in oil first it gets luscious and the outside wrapper crispy.