World Cooking Adventures – Finn’s Favourite Dumplings

I’m not usually daunted by cooking projects but cooking for a class full of ravenous and unabashedly frank little 6 year old gourmets was slightly intimidating at first. “What if they don’t like Asian food?! What if they get raw meat wedged under their fingernails and bacteria grows and…” I fretted to the Irishman. “You’ll be fine! You’re really anal! Everyone will love it!,” snorted the Irishman helpfully, bemused that my greatest culinary challenge to date was prep school critics.

I’ve decided that every week I will explore a different style of cuisine, starting with Chinese dumplings this week. Australian dumplings are a personal bugbear of mine. You see, in Australia, the delicate little bite-sized morsels of “dim sum” as we know them in the Chinese speaking world have mutated to monstrous proportions. Called “Dim Sims” or “Dimmies”, each one is the size of a B cup breast implant and tastes not quite dissimilar, I would imagine.

Look at these horrors below. These are labelled as “Famous Sxxxx Mxxxxxxx Market Dim Sims”. $10.80 for a 3 boob jobs!

Ok enough ranting. Anyway I chose to make wontons for the kids today, because I have never met a kid who didn’t love wontons. Won Ton or Yun Tun means “swallowing clouds”, because the dough gets so light and crispy when fried that they may float away, and the crunch from these little suckers is pretty much deafening.

This photo below is from http://appetiteforchina.com/recipes/sichuan-wontons-chinese-new-year-recipe-ideas/. It shows some of the different styles of folding wontons. I demonstrated the triangle, the party hat/ nurse’s cap, the rectangle, the boat and many others.

First I got the kids to use a huge steel meat mallet and bash a clove of garlic into pulpy submission. They loved that. And then we mixed the garlic into the minced meat with spring onions and I let them grind pepper, salt, and add soy, rice wine, mirin and sesame oil to the meat.

We made a little cornstarch paste (or you can just use water too), and poured those into individual little tins for the kids to use as dumpling glue.

They took their jobs very seriously and were completely engrossed in folding the wontons. They even invented some more shapes like the “cigar” and the “doggy poo”. Yum.

I told them that they had to squish out all the air from the dumpling or the dumpling would swell up and burst like a little bomb. Of course this meant experimenting with a big air bubble dumpling which swelled up to gargantuan / dim sim proportions to the merriment of everyone. These are some of the completely kid rolled dumplings. I was really impressed by their work!

And here is the final result, beautiful golden brown devastatingly crunchy pillows of yum. Tip – to get kids to eat minced pork, I called it Bacon Bits. Whatever works!

While I was frying the won tons, I got the kids to make their own individual small bowls of dipping sauce using soy, vinegar, sesame oil, furikake seaweed, sesame seeds and ketchup.

Word got out that I was making dumplings and teachers from other classes and even the school principal came over to sample the offerings.
They were a bit hit with the kids!

One of the girls said “I wish I had you in my kitchen forever so that you could make my dinner everyday.” Best slightly creepy compliment ever! Just kidding, the kids were all so utterly sweet. One boy didn’t want to try the won tons and they all ganged up on him telling him “They don’t look nice but they are SUPER YUMMO!!!”

That was a relief! I have a whole lot of cooking adventures planned – next week we’re going to be doing lovely bubbly fondue in a hot pot, 2 kinds – cheese and chocolate! Stay tuned…

Ingredients: Directions:
1 pound (450 g) ground meat (chicken, beef, pork)
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 stalk green onion, chopped
2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tbsp rice wine2 tbsp sesame oil
2 cups finely chopped kale/ other vegs
1/2 cup water
Cornflour
50 wonton wrappers, defrosted
cooking oil for frying
1.)    In a large bowl, add the meat, ginger, garlic, green onions, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine and kale and mix well to combine.

2.)    In a small bowl, add 2 tbsp of cornflour and some water to make a paste. Or just use water!

3.)    Put a small teaspoon of the meat mixture on a wonton wrapper. Dip a finger in the cornflour paste, and paint all 4 edges with the wash. Fold the wonton in half, corner to opposite corner to make a triangle. Seal tightly all around. Make sure there are no air pockets or holes in the wonton. Refer to the pictures for inspiration on how to fold wontons.

4.)    Place folded wonton on a clean, dry plate and cover with plastic wrap to avoid them drying out. Prepared wontons can be frozen for later use

5.)    You can boil or fry the wontons. To fry wontons, add 1 1/2 inches of cooking oil to a wok or pot. Heat the oil until it reaches 375F. Add a few wontons to the oil to fry, turning occasionally until they are golden brown. Drain and serve!

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