CRUSTY RADISH DUMPLINGS FOR MY DUMPLING

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MY DUMPLING COMES WITH AN EXTRA DISK OF SALTY, CRACKLING, DRAMATIC BUT ALSO DELICATE PERSONALITY.  IT MIGHT NOT BE FOR EVERYONE WHO LIKE SMOOTH RIDES, BUT IT’S MY DUMPLING AND I LIKE IT EXACTLY THE WAY IT IS.

 

I’ve always liked western funerals.

Or to be more specific, I’ve always liked the meal that takes place afterwards.  The kind of… you’re-dead-let’s-eat attitude, the striving positivity in what I would like to call, “party-grieving”.  Call this meal a “repast” or whatever, but as far as I’m concerned, when a large group of friends gathers and gets drunk plus smothered in casseroles, even if it was after an eternal farewell and no lady’s mascara was fully intact, hey, it’s a party.  So yeah.  I think it’s nice.  I think it’s dignifying.  When I have my funeral, I’m going to make everyone listen to Gaga’s “(now you really) can’t read my, can’t read my poker face”, and like it or not, eat sardine casseroles.  So a few weeks ago, when the reality of what was going to happen started to settle in, I pressed the soft paws of my fur-son Dumpling against my wet face and said… hey, don’t you worry, mommy’s gonna throw you the best party ever.

Except that… ironically, Dumpling hated parties.  If he had known about this mass “trespassing” taking place under his roof, he would’ve taken out his shotguns and barked everyone off of his lawn.  Don’t take it personally.  That was just Dumpling, my sociopathic dog who was really more of a human that hated dogs, and would love nothing more than to remove a harmless chunk of meat from your annoying ankles, no hard feelings.  Chances are, if you knew him, you wouldn’t have liked him much.  In fact, more than being anti-social, he was also a self-absorbed, snobbish, toy-despising and politically incorrect racist…  Basically, an asshole.

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And I loved him. I still love him.  I love that as much of an asshole as he was, he would quietly tap his paw on my arm to say “hey, I’m sitting right here”.  I love that as much of an asshole as he was, the dependence in his eyes when he searched for me from another room in the house.  Whatever he was, he was mine.  And I hope he knew that I would always be his human.

So against his wishes, I’m still gonna throw him a party, the perfect kind, the kind where everybody could, in a distance as he liked, celebrate and remember his 15 years of endearing unlikability.  And I shall, today especially, make him his all-time favourite thing to eat.  The thing that he had more than once stolen from the dinner table with impeccable premeditation and timing then swallowed in whole, something that was almost 1/5 of his own body-size if I may add, and instantly changed his physique from a slender breakfast sausage to a liver bratwurst.  His favourite food ever → actual actual dumplings.  Yeah, what did I say, self-absorbed.  He really did love himself dearly in more ways than one.

But this is a special party, for special dumpling. The kind of dumpling that is worth remembering.  Most of you know about potsticker, basically dumpling with crispy bottom cooked inside a skillet.  The crust is what makes potsticker special, but my dumpling is no ordinary potsticker.  My dumpling comes with an extra disk of salty, crackling, dramatic but also delicate personality.  You have to approach the apparent ravioli-like cuteness carefully, so you can keep the crispiness intact and not lose the juice from the pinkish filling of fatty ground pork and shredded daikon.  Once you learn how to handle it, it’ll give you pure happiness as it shatters in your mouth, coordinating playfully with its multifaceted textures along with the garlicky and tangy, soy sauce and srirracha dipping sauce.   It does take a bit of extra patience, just a little bit more work.  It might not be for everyone who like smooth rides and calmness.

But it’s my dumpling, and I like it exactly the way it is.

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CRUSTY RADISH AND PORK DUMPLINGS

Yield: Approx 55 dumplings

Ingredients

    RADISH AND PORK DUMPLINGS:
  • 2 1/2 cups (290 grams) coarsely shredded daikon, or yellow zucchini
  • 17.6 oz (500 grams) fatty ground pork (about 20% fat)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp light brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp best chicken stock you've got
  • 50~60 dumpling wrappers
  • DUMPLING CRUST:
  • 1/2 cup all-purose flour
  • 1 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • DIPPING SAUCE:
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Sriracha sauce
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2 smashed garlic

Instructions

  1. TO MAKE THE RADISH AND PORK DUMPLINGS: Trim off both ends of the daikon and peel the fibrous skins off until you see tender flesh (no need to do this if using yellow zucchini), then grate through the coarsest holes in your grater. You'll need about 2 1/2 cups. Squeeze the grated daikon or zucchini with your hands to get rid of any excess liquid, then add to a large bowl along with ground pork, soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, ground white pepper, grated ginger, salt and light brown sugar. Mix and "knead" with your hands for a couple min, until the mixture is sticky and paste-like. Now add the best chicken stock you've got, 1 tbsp at a time, and work the stock into the mixture thoroughly for 1 min before adding the next.
  2. Smear a generous amount of filling in the centre of a dumpling wrapper. Dab a bit of water along the edges, then close and seal it into a half-moon shape. Then bend the half-moon from the bottom to bring both tips together, and pinch tightly together with a bit of water. Set aside on a floured tray and repeat with the rest. If not cooking immediately, you can now freeze the dumplings on the tray, and move the into a bag once hardened.
  3. MAKE THE DIPPING SAUCE: Mix soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, sriracha sauce, sesame oil and smashed garlic together. Best to let sit for an hour or so.
  4. TO COOK THE DUMPLINGS: Whisk together all-purpose flour, white pepper, cayenne pepper and salt together, then set aside. In a small or large non-stick skillet, add enough canola oil to thinly coat the bottom, and set over medium heat (don't use high heat). Sprinkle an even and thin layer of the flour-mixture over the skillet (it would be like generously dusting a working surface), then arrange the dumplings in the skillet with about 1"(3 cm) of space in between each. Add enough water until it reaches about 0.5 cm (a little less than 1/4") deep, then put the lid on. Once the water boils, you'll hear it bubble, then the bubbling sound will subside, signalling that the water has evaporated. Then give it another min. Now, this is the time when you can open the lid and check the crust. If it isn't golden browned and crispy yet, put the lid back on and give it some more time.
  5. Once the crust is ready, invert the dumplings with the crust onto a plate. Serve immediately with the dipping sauce.

Notes

I like making potsticker dumplings in ravioli shape because they sit better in the skillet. You can do whatever shape you like. You can also substitute with any other type of fillings you like.

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21 Comments

  • I, too, have an asshole tiny dog, Klaus, the mini dachshund. He will eat anything, loving wieners and sausages the most – must be a dog thing, which one day I suspect will ensure his demise. Thank you for not posting 1000 images of the same thing but in different angles along with your written post. As a prof photographer and photo teacher, that always annoys the hell out of me. I am of Irish origins as is my husband, yes, eating and funerals are one and the same in our culture. Will try these dumplings, throwing some to the pack of dogs currently under my table in Dumpling’s honor.

  • Hahaha. This is the best tribute ever. And the fact that Dumpling liked dumplings just makes my insides fuzzy. I personally am obsessed with the crunchy, crusty, almost parmesan-crisp-like thingy that is on the bottom of dumplings–so good. Now, I’m so glad I know how to make it. RIP, Dumpling.

  • Your sweet little Dumpling was very lucky to have you as a mommy! I had a lovely cat who agreed to live with us for 18 years! She bossed us around and kept us in line! It’s been about five years since her passing and I’m still crying. I miss her so much. Remember and cherish all the good times! What a nice thing to do for your lovely friend.

  • As a dog and general pet lover, I think it’s funny the things you remember after your pet dies. We had a little terrier with an underbite, who would PEE every time we came home & scratched our glass doors when she was put into our sunroom for bed every night. But we loved her. And we miss her. Great recipe & I think it’s fun to have a food that will remind you of Dumpling :)

    • Megan, haha my husband still remembers and is very proud that in the first few months we met, Dumpling peed when he saw him after a long break. He said it’s a proof that Dumpling loved him way back then. Thanks for sharing this story with me :)

  • Such a well written post and a unique dumpling to tribute your dumpling. I lost my A-hole of a dog about a half year ago… so I know how difficult, but liberating this post must have been for you. Regardless of their quirks, they are everything to us “humans”. I’m sure your dumpling is in dog heaven stealing all of someone else’s dumplings right off their plate. And smiling down at you. Cheers and thanks for sharing!

  • Mandy,
    To be honest? I’ve avoided your page since I saw the Instagram post, because it all just breaks my heart. I know this pain. It’s so raw, so consuming, so … awfully, awfully breathtaking. But this? I laughed, and cried as I read your words. You have a gift, my strangerfriend. What a yummy tribute! And what a gift, your relationship with Dumpling was, and still is. I’d like to be reincarnated into your house – as an animal. My childbearing friends may shake their heads and disagree with me – but I truly, truly believe that there is no purer love in this world, than that of a pet, and their fur-parent. My Milo was the love of my life, and I know that Dumpling was yours. That sweet pup will live on in you, forever. As I said before, I know that Dumpling and Milo are frolicking and giggling, knowing that the two of us connected on the crazy interwebs. Hugs, yums, chin scratches, and love, my dear. Cheers to Dumpling!
    All my heart,
    Lindsay

    • Lindsay, yeah I can understand how you feel… the fear of disturbing that pain again. I don’t think I will ever have another dog just like Dumpling. He will always be special to me. The funny thing is, he really did love eating dumplings :) We once had to pry his mouth open because he stole one that was too big for him, and we were afraid he might choke! Then of course, he won… swallowed it whole… quite impressive actually. Thanks for your support all this time, stranger friend.

  • Your words, “But it’s my dumpling, and I like it exactly the way it is” really struck me. I feel that way about my family. Thank you for your heart-warming, hilarious and thoughtful stories, and your (sometimes bordering vulgar – in a good way) always delicious recipes. I love your food so much I decided to make my entire Christmas dinner from your recipes. And this will be one of them. I’ll comment back on how it went! Now thinking about New Year’s and Chinese New Year…

  • These dumplings had great flavour, and that dipping sauce is out-of-this-world delicious. I couldn’t find non-lean pork mince and wasn’t game enough to make my own, so I used lean. I think that may be why the filling turned out a bit dry. I think adding more oil to the meat mixture may solve this problem next time.
    As this was my first time making pot-sticker type dumplings, I stuffed up the crust big time. Mine burnt and didn’t come off in the nice big sheets like yours. But as of this very moment I’m attempting them again with dumplings I froze. Here’s hoping :)

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