Thursday, May 21, 2009

Steamed dumplings in spicy cilantro sauce

That was a big response; per my Tweet last night, here are some pictures and the recipe for steamed dumplings in spicy cilantro sauce.

You can make dumplings by hand -- there are tons of recipes on the internet on how to do it. Essentially you need to get your hands on some skins (easy to do at an Asian market), make the filling of your choice, and crimp and seal the dumplings. If you're looking for a shortcut, however, simply pick up a bag of the Ling Ling dumplings at Costco (in the freezer section in a bright yellow bag); they go from frozen to steamed perfectly in boiling water in about 5-7 minutes. I used the Ling Ling dumplings last night due to the time restrictions and they always work well with this recipe.

Here's what you need for the spicy cilantro sauce:
  • 1 bunch cilantro chopped fine
  • Splash sesame oil
  • Splash rice wine vinegar
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 1 scoop of minced garlic (2-3 cloves)
  • 1/2 bunch parsley fine chopped
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2-3 hot peppers diced fine (I use either cilantro or jalapeno, though you could use habanero; I also throw in the seeds for more heat)
You can and should mix the cilantro sauce in a mixing bowl 30-60 minutes prior to making the dish -- the longer the mix sits with everything combined, the better the flavors combine. If you want, you can shortcut the chopping and dicing process by just throwing everything into a food processor and letting it to the work. I let the sauce sit at room temperature instead of putting it in the fridge, but if you're storing the sauce or making it well ahead of time, it's probably a good idea to refrigerate it.

Regardless of whether you made the dumplings or are using frozen dumplings, all you need to do is steam them so that the skins are soft and the inside filling is hot and cooked. I'll assume that you are using frozen dumplings for the purpose of this post, so get a pot of water boiling and put in the dumplings once it is boiling. Generally the dumplings only need to cook for 5-7 minutes in the boiling water, but that depends on the size of your pot and how many you are cooking -- you can check tenderness with a fork. Once you put the dumplings in, get a large mixing bowl and dump the sauce in the bottom; you're going to be moving all the dumplings into this, so it needs to be large enough to hold them and allow you mix them around.

Remove the dumplings once cooked, drain out all of the water, and put them into the sauce hot. Mix the dumplings into the sauce until they are evenly coated, taking care not to break the dumplings open with your mixing spoon when you are mixing. After you have a good coat on the dumplings, you want to get a large plate or platter and pour out the dumplings and any remaining sauce.

If you are eating this as a main entree, a good rule of thumb is 8-10 dumplings per person; as an appetizer a good rule of thumb is 3-4 dumplings per person.

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