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Make These Delicious Dumplings for the Chinese New Year


Legend has it that the more dumplings you eat during the Chinese New Year (the first day falls on February 8), the more prosperous your year will be. We don’t blame you if you make several hundred just to be on the safe side.

The best part about dumplings is that you don’t have to be an Asian foodie to appreciate these delicious pockets of goodness. We suggest making these with a gathering of friends and family – it’s tradition (and gets them assembled twice as fast).

Dumplings are usually filled with pork, but we’ve gone for a healthier version with mackerel and prawns, plus a vegetarian option. Also, don’t bother to make the dumpling wrappers – Asian supermarkets carry frozen ones and they’re just as good (really!) without all the hassle.

 

Shandong Mackerel and Prawn Dumplings

Filling Ingredients (makes 20 dumplings – double or triple for a party)

2 mackerel fillets at roughly 300 grams each (ask the fishmonger to clean, debone and fillet the fish for you) or your favorite oily fish would work, too

5-7 raw king prawns (shelled)

 

Vegetarian Option:

300 grams of shiitake mushroom (minced)

300 grams spinach (roughly chopped)

Sprinkle salt on the shiitake mushroom and spinach, let it sit for about 15-20 minutes for the water to drawn out. Squeeze out the excess water and drain. This will ensure the finished filling won’t be too soggy.

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Flavors:

100 grams garlic chives (can substitute with regular chives)

1 small piece fresh ginger, grated

2 teaspoon Shaoxing cooking wine (substitute with dry sherry)

2 teaspoon sesame oil

2 teaspoon light soy sauce

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon white pepper (can substitute with black pepper)

¼ teaspoon ground Sichuan pepper

1 packet of dumpling wrappers (found in Asian supermarkets – defrost an hour beforehand)

2 tablespoons of dried baby shrimp, finely chopped (can also substitute with baby anchovies)

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Method:

Roughly cut up the mackerel fillets and run it through a food processor until a smooth paste forms. If you don’t have a food processor, do it the old-fashioned way by mincing it by hand. For the vegetarian version, chop the vegetables finely.

Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Roughly chop the king prawns and add it to the fish. This gives the filling a nice texture.

Finely chop the garlic chives and add it into the mixture. Lastly, stir in the ginger, Shaoxing wine, sesame oil, light soy sauce, salt, white pepper, and Sichuan pepper.

Mix well. Line a steamer with parchment paper so the dumplings don’t stick when cooking. Now, take a piece of dumpling wrapper, place it in the center of your palm, spoon a small dollop of filling into the center of the wrapper.

Moisten the edges of the wrapper with a wet finger. Fold one half over to shape into a crescent moon shape. Using the tip of your finger, pinch the edges together tightly. Transfer each finished dumpling to a floured tray, and keep it covered with plastic wrap so they don’t dry out as you finish the rest.

Place the finished dumplings in a steamer and steam for 8-10 minutes over boiling water.

Alternatively, you can also pan-fry them by placing a few at a time in an oiled pan on high heat. Add a splash of water and immediately cover the pan with a lid. Cook for 8-10 minutes or until the water dries out. Serve with a drizzle of soy sauce, chili oil and rice vinegar.

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It’s customary to hide a small coin in one dumpling – the person who finds it will supposedly have good luck all year. (However, if breaking a tooth isn’t on your guests’ agenda for the evening, perhaps it’s best to skip this tradition.)

Here’s to an auspicious New Year!

Recipe by Jessica Wang of Mama Wang’s Kitchen, a Chinese street food stall in London