Cooking

Traditional Homemade Pork Rice Dumpling

Every year there are 2 festivals of the year which I kind of love and hate at the same time. I love them because of the joyous mood and the good food I get to enjoy during the celebrations and I also hate them because of the amount of cooking I have to do. One of them is Lunar Chinese New Year where my cooking stunts start 2 weeks before the festival from baking cookies to cooking New Year’s lunch on the 2nd day.

The 2nd festival is the Dragon boat festival which is widely celebrated with meat dumplings. This is different from the flour dumplings or prawn dumplings which are known by many foreigners. This is the glutinous rice dumplings wrapped with bamboo leaves in a triangular shape which requires a lot of work. When I say a lot of work, it is a tonne of work and I will share the recipe below so those interested can give it a try if you do not mind the hard work. My recipe makes about 40 dumplings

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Some of the basic seasonings used throughout for marinating the ingredients. The actual amount of seasoning used will be mentioned in the different sections. As there are many steps in preparing the ingredients, I usually prepare them over 2 days to lighten my load.

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First, you need to prepare the bamboo leaves. This is what you can find in most provision stores 2 to 3 weeks before the Dragonboat festivals and there are a few different sizes. I usually buy the XL size so it is much easier to manoeuvre when you are wrapping the dumpling. These come dried so there are a few steps to prepare them.

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You have to boil the dried leaves until they turn soft and it takes about 15 mins. After the leaves are boiled and soft, remove them from the heat and wash them clean under cold running water and a clean cloth. This is to remove any dust or chemicals used on the leaves. Set them aside for use once this is done.

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Next step is to marinate the pork which is mainly used but you can always change it to chicken if you like. We have used semi fatty pork loin cut into 2 x 2 cubes. You will need the following to marinate the pork:

– 1 KG of pork

– 1 tablespoon of sugar

– 2 tablespoon of cornflour

– 2 teaspoons of 5 spice powder

– 2 tablespoons minced garlic

– 2 teaspoons of mushroom seasoning

– 2 tablespoon of dark soy sauce

– 2 tablespoons of soy sauce

– 1 tablespoon of sesame oil

– 1 tablespoon of honey or corn syrup

– 1 whole egg

– some splash of cooking wine and pepper

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Mix all the seasoning well and leave the marinade with the pork in a zip lock bag in the freezer overnight. I usually prepare this the night before or a few nights before the day I am making the dumplings.

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Next step, soak about 15 pieces of dried Chinese mushrooms. Personally, I will use the flower mushroom from Japan as they are fatter and juicy. You need to soak them for about 2 hours for them to fully absorb the water for the juiciness.

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Once the mushrooms are soaked fully, cut them into quarters or bite-sized pieces. Marinate the mushrooms for an hour using the following:

– 2 tablespoons minced garlic

– 1 teaspoon of mushroom seasoning

– 1 tablespoon of dark soy sauce

– 1 tablespoon of soy sauce

– 1 tablespoon of sesame oil

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After the 1 hour of marinating the mushrooms, stir fry them for about 30 mins till the mushrooms are 80% cooked. You can choose to do this the day before in the morning of the same day. This is for the flavours of the seasoning to infuse into the mushrooms. If like me, you prefer to prepare this 1 day in advance, just keep the cooked mushrooms in a container in the fridge.

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Next step is to prepare the chestnuts. You have to boil the peeled chestnuts for 30mins to get them soft. Something to take note of is not to overcook the chestnuts as they will be further cooked together with the dumpling so during this step, just boil them till they are very slightly soft and the colour a nice orangey-brown. I chose to prepare this overnight so just set them aside in a container in the fridge.

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On the actual day of making the dumplings, we have to prepare the other ingredients like the salted eggs, dried shrimps and dried scallops. The salted egg and the scallops are fully optional at this point so you can do without them or even add other ingredients like Chinese sausage which I did for some of the dumplings. For the dried shrimp and scallops, I used about 250 grams each and you just need to pre-soak them for 30 mins before use. For the salted egg yolks, you just need to soak the yolk in oil to prevent them from sticking and slice them into half for use as I only use half per dumpling. You will also need to soak 1.5kg glutinous rice for 1 hour.

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Once the rice is soaked, you will have to fry it before the actual wrapping of the dumplings. The seasonings needed include:

– 2 tablespoons of minced garlic

– 3 tablespoons of shallot oil with fried shallot

– 3 teaspoons of 5 spice powder

– 2 teaspoons of salt

– 2 teaspoons of mushroom seasoning

– 3 tablespoons of dark soy sauce ( depends on your preference on how dark you want your dumpling)

– 3 tablespoons of oyster sauce

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Fry the shallot oil and minced garlic until fragrant

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Add the rice which is drained dry from water. It is crucial not to add any water into the pan and keep it dry. Stir fry the rice with the shallot and garlic.

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Add the dark soy sauce and soy sauce and stir fry the rice until the colour and the shallots are distributed evenly over medium heat. You should keep stirring the rice to make sure it doesn’t burn and stick on the pan. Once, the rice is evenly coloured and the fragrance of the oil and garlic is strong, you can turn off the fire and put the rice in a container for use.

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The last thing to prepare before the actual wrapping is to fry the pork. Defrost the marinated pork and cook them over medium fire in a pan without any oil.

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Once the pork is 80% cooked and there are still pinkish areas, it is ready. We do not wish to overcook the pork as the finished dumpling still needs to be cooked.

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Finally, we are ready to start wrapping the dumplings. Just a full view of all the ingredients needed at one glance.

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This is basically my battle station for wrapping the dumplings as I am doing this alone. I surround myself with the ingredients needed so I can access them from one point. One important thing to note is to line the floor with newspaper or covering since the sauces will start dripping in the midst of the wrapping process. For the wrapping, I use normal nylon strings tied into bundles of 10s for easy counting and these string bundles are looped through a bamboo pole.

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First, get 2 pieces of bamboo leaves, the smooth side of the leaf facing up and the side with the vine facing down. Place the leaves in a way that the tips of the vine are on opposite ends.

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Overlap the leaves but if you have shorter leaves, you can space them out lengthwise.

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Fold the center of the leaves in a cone shape manner

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Form the cone shape and the ends of the leaves will overlap. Make sure there is no hole at the bottom of the cone.

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Start by placing a tablespoon of rice at the bottom of the cone

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Next, pile up the rest of the ingredients

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Finally, fill up the top of the dumpling with another 1 to 2 tablespoon of rice. Flatten the top of the rice to form a flat top like this.

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Pinch in the 2 sides of the cone so that the side of the cone is covering partial of the rice

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Fold down the top of the leaves

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Pinch the end of the folded leave vertically to form a small fold.

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Tuck in the small fold to form a triangle

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Tie the nylon string along the side of the dumpling where the end fold is so ensure the dumpling is sealed. Make sure to tie the string very tight to ensure the fillings do not drop out during the cooking process of the dumplings.

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This is the final result

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It took me about 1.5 hours to complete all 40 dumplings

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Next, cook the dumplings in boiling salt water for at least 2 hours to fully cook the rice and all the ingredients within the dumplings. Make sure to put in the dumplings only after the water has boiled and not straight into tap water. The reason to put salt in the water is so that the water does not take away all the flavouring of the dumpling. We will need to put in at least 3 big tablespoons of salt.

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Once cooked after 2 hours, hang them up again on the pole for them to drip out any excess water, oil and sauce. This process is to ensure the dumplings can be stored for a longer period and the rice does not turn mushy with too much water retained within the leaves.

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Dumplings can be stored in the fridge for up to 1 week and 2 weeks in the freezer. The best way to eat them is when they are hot so you can reheat them either by steaming them or re-boiling them with water in a pot for a couple of mins ( less than 5 mins). One dumpling is very filling and can be an actual meal replacement because of the glutinous rice. Once you have mastered the wrapping technique, you actually have free play on what ingredients to wrap within the dumpling according to your preference. It does take a few tries to master the wrapping technique but it is not too difficult so you can try having some fun with it.

 

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