September 11, 2012
Thai Pearl Dumplings
I may have mentioned once or twice in the past, just how much I love Yum Cha/ Dim Sum/ Asian Dumplings.
The only problem of course, is finding ones that are InTolerant Friendly for InTolerants like me.
Apparently I'm not the only one out there who craves a good dumpling or two, as the most viewed post on my blog by far is the one on Gluten Free Chinese Dumplings.
This recipe used Glutinous Rice Flour (not related to gluten at all) and fresh Taro to make gorgeously slippery little dumplings or rice rolls that were truly just as nice as the ones I get at my favourite Dim Sum restaurant.
As it's obviously touched a culinary nerve or two, I thought I'd expand a bit on the Asian Dumpling theme a bit in the coming weeks, starting with today's offering of Thai Pearl Dumplings.
These have got to be the easiest dumpling skins around, just Pearl Tapioca Balls and water, that's it. How easy is that! An added bonus it that they are absolutely delicious, very chewy though, so be prepared for a multi textural experience with these little lovelies.
1 cup Tapioca Pearls
1/2 boiling Water
Cover the tapioca pearls with cold water then drain immediately
Pop the pearls back in the bowl, add the salt and boiling water and stir well
Cover and put them aside while you make the filling
Really, you could stuff the dumplings with whatever filling you like. I wanted to try and replicate one of BigJ's favourites from our local Thai restaurant, that's full of sweet caramelised peanuts mixed with minced pork. Sounds strange? Well, by the time you balanced out the sugar with fish sauce and lime juice, you get that whole Sweet/Sour/Salty balance that's essential in any Thai meal.
In this case the filling needs to be quite assertive as the dumpling skin is pretty tasteless on it's own, and needs that wow factor when bitten into
300gr ground Pork or Chicken
1/2 cup Crushed Peanuts- I dry roasted them in the fry pan for about 2 minutes first for a much stronger flavour
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
1/4 cup (ish) Fish Sauce
1/4 cup (ish) Lime Juice
1 big Tablespoon crushed Ginger
1 big Tablespoon crushed Garlic
1 big teaspoon Lemon Grass Paste
Spring Onions finely chopped
Cook off the mince meat, ginger, garlic and lemon grass until sealed
Add in the brown sugar, sauce and juice and keep stirring until it all caramelises and changes colour to a deeper brown colour. Keep an eye on it though as it could catch quickly. If you're having a hard time, add in a touch more sugar and a splash or two of water as needed
Taste the mix, and adjust the balance of flavours by adding more fish sauce/juice/sugar until it's juuuust right. Take off the heat.
Toss through the peanuts and spring onions, then set aside to cool
Now the fun part!
First things first, take off any rings- your hands will get all gunky and you'll be grateful you heeded my warning
Gather the tapioca into a ball and knead it until it comes together
Roll it into a sausage shape, then cut into twelve equal pieces- I started with 24, but changed my mind :)
Wet your hands in a bowl of cold water, then flatten the balls in the palm of your hand while making a kind of little cup to hold the filling
Place a spoonful of filling in the middle of the cup
Scrunch your hand around the filling
Pinch the edges together, smoothing it down with with a wet finger to encase the filling totally and making a nice round ball
This makes about 12 golf ball sized dumplings You could make them smaller, but it would certainly be harder to pat the dough out thin enough
Pop the little dumplings into a steamer for about 20 minutes, or until all the dough goes from white to totally translucent I sprayed the bottom of the racks with a little oil as these dumplings are very,very sticky when they're hot
They look like jelly fish on the outside, don't they?
Now I tried one of these while they were still hot, and while the flavours were nice the texture could be challenging to some people. The dough was sticky, stretchy and very gloopy- hard to chew and swallow actually. There's a reason these are traditionally served just warm or at room temperature :)
The dough goes more opaque as it cools down
The usual way of serving these dumplings is to pop some herbs like mint or coriander and chilli onto a lettuce leaf
Wrap up into a cute little parcel, and serve with some sauce to dunk them in. This was a much nicer way of eating them, the lettuce gave a nice crunch as well as giving your teeth something to grip onto!
Nice sweet filling, a soft crunch of the nuts, chewy soft dumping then the crisp lettuce leaf all added up to a lovely lunch indeed. My family loved them, but I don't think I'd serve them to quite young children as you really do need to chew these well :)
So My Dear Readers, what's your favourite type of dumpling, and where do you go to get it?