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How to make soup dumplings — shortcuts for beginners

  • Ground pork, ginger, green onion, sesame oil and other flavorings bolster the broth tucked into dumplings made from wonton wrappers. TNS PHOTO



Chicago Tribune
Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Soup dumplings, darling pork-packed pillows, differ from their landlocked cousins in one detail: They’re bursting with broth. Posing a puzzle worthy of the trivia app HQ: How does the soup slip inside?

The dumpling novice ponders the possibilities: a splash of liquid and lightning-fast folding? A scalding syringe? Magic?

Correct. In an act of culinary sleight-of-hand, the broth is cooked to a quiver, cooled to a gel and cubed. The cubes are tossed with pork and wrapped into the raw dumpling. As the packet steams — big reveal — the meat cooks and the cubes melt ... into soup.

Ingenious and delicious, both. Leaving only the question of technique. A: Nibble a small hole, slurp out the soup, dip the dumpling and down it. Small bite; big win.

Beginner Soup Dumplings

Prep: 1 hour

Cook: 6 minutes

Makes: 16 dumplings

Expert soup dumplings start with homemade broth and hand-rolled wrappers. This version takes a couple of shortcuts — and still steams up delicious.

1 T cold water

1 tsp. gelatin

½ cup pork, beef or chicken broth

4 oz. ground pork

1 tsp. finely grated fresh ginger

1 tsp. finely chopped green onion

1 tsp. sugar

½ tsp. soy sauce

½ tsp. sesame oil

¼ tsp. Chinese rice wine

1 pinch each: salt and white (or black) pepper

16 wonton wrappers (4 oz. total)

1. Set: Drop water into a glass measuring cup. Sprinkle with gelatin. Bring broth to a boil; pour over gelatin, whisking to dissolve. Pour into a small baking pan and chill until jiggly, about 30 minutes.

2. Mix: Meanwhile stir together all remaining ingredients (except wrappers). When broth is set, cut into tiny cubes or scramble to bits with a fork. Stir cubes into pork.

3. Fold: Set four wrappers on a work surface; brush edges with water. Settle one tablespoon filling in the center of each. Bring the four points of each wrapper up to meet in the middle, forming four pyramid-shaped dumplings. Firmly press seams together. Are these the 18-pleat round dumplings of soup-dumpling fame? No. Will they work just fine? Yes. Fill remaining dumplings.

4. Steam: Line a steamer basket with parchment paper or a few leaves of bok choy or lettuce. Settle in dumplings. Steam over boiling water until dumplings are cooked through, about six minutes.

5. Serve: Set one dumpling on a big spoon. Nibble or poke a small hole. Slurp out soup. Drizzle dumpling with sauce and down it.

Dumpling sauce

Pour ¼ cup dark (chinkiang) vinegar into a bowl. Scatter with fine shards of ginger.

Provenance: Adapted from Imperial Lamian Restaurant, Chicago.