By Kim Cody
If you are joining me in this recipe as directed from my previous piece, The Dumpling Chronicles Part I: A Dumpling-Making Event In The Vintage Teapot, then welcome back. If not, then I refer you there for context. On the 17th February 2018, I had the pleasure of joining the team at The Vintage Teapot, the sister café to the beloved, M&L Chinese in Dublin, for a dumpling-making demonstration and eating extravaganza.
While the previous piece explored the ins and outs of a trip to an event at this spot (highly recommended for lovers of tea and savoury dumplings), today I will walk you through each step of the dumpling-making process as it happened, and was recorded in a tiny, tartan notepad.
In the beginning there was the dough:
The event began with the dumpling-chef preparing a simple dough: plain flour, boiling water, vegetable oil. The dough needs to be rolled flat and then left for ten minutes.
Thankfully, we weren’t left in painful anticipation. The clever minds behind the event had prepared – nothing short of a monstrous amount – in advance.
An Italian job?
We watched as the dough was rolled into long, sausage-like cylinders. It was serious, not graceful, work. The dough-snake was chopped into sections that resembled the size and shape of Italian gnocchi.
Wondering if I had come to the right place, I watched with pure fascination as each gnocco was rolled with the most precise and practiced movements into discs. The first step was to sprinkle more flour on the work surface and smash each piece into a crude, thick disc. The cook’s next hand movements were captivating; she held a thin, wooden rolling pin in one hand, while using the other to shape and turn the forming disc. The result was thicker in the centre and thinner at the edges. One by one, and at shocking speed, the discs piled on the table.
Shaming us into success:
Thankfully for us, our embarrassment at being brought, one by one, to come up to the table and fill our own dumpling for the whole class was waylaid by a gift of dumplings being delivered to each of our tables. As our tutor worked tirelessly, we got to sample the fruits of her labour; pork belly and bamboo savoury dumpling, filled to bursting, and hot, and sticky. Absolutely wonderful. We also discovered that we would be filling our own dumpling with the same.
Fill ‘er up:
Once the remaining discs were rolled, our instructors brought each of the 21 of us to the head table to be shown how to pinch and fold a dumpling. The filling was a prep-prepared mix from the night before, the recipe I will provide you with at the end of this piece.
I can’t describe to you how she did it. I was shown, and shown again, but there is a talent in that woman’s fingers that is both natural and learned from serious experience; the method to pinch and seal the dumpling looks simple. You place the disc on your left hand, if you are right-handed, on the fleshy part between your thumb and forefinger. Next comes a plump teaspoon of meat-filling into the centre of the dumpling. You then curve the edges, and with some intricate and yet-mystical twisting motion, pinch the sides of the dumpling to look like a beautiful half-oyster.
I have no idea how. I have tried both there and at home. My patience for beauty is limited. For taste, though…
To the victor, the spoils:
After this, we made 4 more dumplings each at our tables before they were whisked away to be steamed for 10 minutes in a bamboo basket…
I have a full recipe to share so be sure to look out for the last in this delicious trilogy.