I can now check “Be a Private Chef” off my bucket list! Not entirely sure that item was ever on my bucket list… but whatevs! I packed up a travel sized version of my kitchen this weekend and drove it up to Sea Ranch for a private dumpling class and dinner! Actually, Reuben drove because he is a saint and I need to figure out a way to eventually pay him for being my all-star assistant. The class was made up of a wonderful group of ladies for a bachelorette weekend and they were all so good at making dumplings. See, I told you dumplings weren’t hard to make! It was overall such a fun time! I had a minor moment of panic when I thought I was going to overheat in kitchen and cursed myself for wanting to hand whip the whipped cream for dessert, but I survived. I’ll be doing this exact same thing for a birthday party in 2 weeks and I’m only hoping that this whole workshop and dinner catering thing will get easier. Fingers crossed!
Dumplings are still on the mind though because I have another public workshop this Sunday! If you’ve been wanting to attend one of my workshops, I still have plenty of spots available for my Crystal Dumpling Workshop on July 14th! You can grab your ticket here. I’m especially excited for that class because I love crystal dumplings so much! Crystal dumplings are those semi-translucent chewy wrappers you see for Har Gow or shrimp dumplings. Instead of wheat flour, the wrappers are actually made using wheat starch or a blend of that with tapioca starch. I like to use a blend of wheat starch and tapioca starch because it lends itself to a softer and chewier texture. Despite the name “wheat starch”, these dumplings are actually inherently gluten free. I made these for my gluten free friends during our Chinese New Year party and they all loved it! Dim Sum spots don’t typically advertise these types of dumplings as being gluten free because they probably still use soy sauce or oyster sauce in the filling. Whether you’re staying away from gluten or all about the gluten life, you’re still going to love these dumplings!
These particular dumplings are filled with sweet fresh corn, smokey bacon, and garlicky Chinese chives. It tastes like a summer cookout in a dumpling! These were also inspired by a small blip of a memory from when my grandma made crystal dumplings filled with sweet corn and ground pork. She only ever made those once but I remember not being able to stop myself from eating them. Garlic chives or sometimes called Chinese chives have a sweet, fresh, and mild garlic flavor. I used to not really like them growing up, but I’ve recently grown to love and even crave their fresh and aromatic flavor. If you can find the flowering garlic chives, they make for an extra pretty garnish too! The corn and chives are cooked in the bacon fat and then tossed with the bits of crispy bacon to really soak up all that rich and smokey bacon flavor. Are you drooling yet?
If you’re wondering how I got that lovely yellow color in the wrapper, the answer is Turmeric! The spice provides a really vibrant color but doesn’t impart too much flavor into the dough. I also recently tried smoked paprika in the dough and got a really gorgeous orange color if you don’t have turmeric on hand. If you don’t feel like adding any spices or color into your crystal wrappers, that is totally fine too! I’m just on the pursuit of rainbow dumplings, so excuse me while I experiment with all the spices and powders and in my cabinet!
You may find that these wrappers are very different to work with compared to regular wheat wrappers. Crystal wrappers don’t really stretch because they don’t have any gluten structure. So as you’re working with this dough, be a little more gentle with the dough. You can still do all the sample pleats and folds as with wheat wrappers, but handle them with care. If a small hole or tear develops, don’t worry! Even though the wrappers are delicate they are also super forgiving once you steam them! I will admit that the dumplings prior to steaming are a bit on the fuggly side, but once you lift the lid of the steamer you’ll feel like something magical just happened! The color (if you added any) will deepen and all those folds you thought were too clunky somehow look all smooth and perfect. It’s such a good feeling. Like dumpling magic. Don’t forget to eat them though because that’s for sure the best feeling!
Bacon, Corn, and Chive Crystal Dumplings
makes 32 dumplings
Cut the corn kernels off the cob with a sharp knife. Place the kernels in a medium bowl with the chopped garlic chives.
Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium high heat until crispy. Remove the bacon and place on a paper towel lined plate. Cook the corn and the chives in the bacon fat over medium high heat for 4-5 minutes until the corn is cooked and bright yellow, stirring frequently. Season with salt, white pepper, and soy sauce. Remove the pan from the heat and place corn mixture in a bowl. Chop up the bacon into small pieces and add to the corn mixture. Add in cornstarch and give the filling a good mix until everything is evenly incorporated. Allow the filling to cool.
To make the dough, add wheat starch, tapioca starch, turmeric, and salt into a large bowl. Give it a quick mix. Make a well in the middle of the wheat starch. Slowly pour in the just boiled water and gently mixed in the wheat starch with a wooden spoon until the water is absorbed. It will still look dry and crumbly. Cover with plastic wrap and allow the wheat starch to steam for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes add in olive oil and start to knead the dough with your hands. Knead for a few minutes until you get a smooth dough. It will resemble playdough! If the dough feels a little dry add another teaspoon of olive oil. Wrap the dough with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rest for at least 10 minutes.
Divide the dough in half. Roll out half the dough into a 1” coil and cut into 16 equal pieces. Do the same with the second half. Take 1 portion of dough and roll out into a 3” circle. Place a heaping teaspoon of filling into the wrapper. Carefully pleat the dumpling into the desired shape. The dough feels fragile, but it’s also forgiving once steamed. Don’t worry if you have a few holes. Repeat with the remaining dumplings and place on a baking tray. Dust the tray with a bit of cornstarch to help them from sticking. Cover dumplings with a clean kitchen towel so they don’t dry out.
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Line a bamboo steamer (same width as your pot) with perforated parchment paper or cabbage leaves. Place a few dumplings in the steamer. Dumpling should not be touching. Place the steamer with lid on top of the pot and steam for 6-7 minutes. Repeat with remaining dumplings.
Eat immediately and enjoy with soy sauce or chili oil.
mushroom filling :
2 ears of corn
3/4 cup chopped garlic chives or scallions
4 stripes of bacon
1/2 tsp salt
dash of white pepper
1 tbsp of soy sauce or tamari
1 tbsp cornstarch
crystal dumpling wrapper:
3/4 cup wheat starch
3/4 cup tapioca starch
1 tsp turmeric powder
pinch of salt
1 cup just boiled water
3 tsp olive oil
Dumplings can be frozen raw. Place pleated dumplings on a baking tray and freeze until solid. Place dumplings in a ziplock bag and keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. When cooking, prepare as the recipe states but steam for an additional 3 minutes until cooked through.