Wednesday, September 4, 2013

First Rule of Cook Club... Enjoy Dumplings!

The first rule of cook club is to brag to everyone about the awesome things you're cooking. The second rule is to have a fun time cooking and eating what you've cooked with your friends.

My pal Michele had emailed out a list of cooking classes a local restaurant was offering and asked if we wanted to join in. I realized that Nick and I already knew how to cook many of the things that the classes were offering: pasta, ramen, dumplings, etc. Why not invite friends over to cook something together rather than spending $75-$100 on a cooking class? Each friend contributes some ingredients, a snack, some beverages and you've got yourselves a cooking party. Best idea ever.

We decided to make dumplings which ended up being a delicious idea. We made three different kinds of dumplings: an Indian-inspired chickpea ricotta dumpling, a Vietnamese-inspired shrimp dumpling and my own creation of Mexican-ish dumpling. We started making the dough and prepping the filling as we noshed on crackers, cheese, dip, drank wine and gossiped. Upon hearing the loud and obnoxious girl talk, Nick buried himself in some HBO Hard Knocks, far away from us ladies.

However, the recipes for the dough were rather watery so it ended up taking a long time to mix enough flour, knead it, let the dough rest and knead it to the proper consistency so the glutens set up properly. Nick usually makes the dough while I tend to the filling and the cooking of the dumplings. A watery dough is actually good because once you make pasta or dumpling dough, you can add flour to dry out the dough but you can't add more water. A dough that is too dry must be scrapped and you need to start all over again. At this point, I had to appeal to Nick for assistance to help make the dough and roll it out because it was too wet.

Due to the dough fiasco, our chitchat and our own inability to stay on task, it wasn't until 9pm before we actually were cooking, wrapping and eating the dumplings and they were fantastic! We boiled the shrimp dumplings which were chewy and delicious like dim sum and we pan seared the rest of the dumplings. The Mexican dumplings were surprisingly amazing and Nick noted that they tasted like fancier and Mexican versions of those Totino's Pizza rolls. We dipped them in salsa but we're going to make them another time and serve them with queso. Nothing beats making your own fusion cuisine that turns out well.

I can't wait for the next cook club!

We enjoyed leftover dumplings at the summit of Mt. St. Helens!
The recipes for dumplings and wrappers are listed on our Revel dumpling class blog. Here are some recipe notes:


I followed the recipes for the ricotta chickpea and shrimp fillings. Taste the chickpea mixture and season it well with salt and pepper. Our first batch was a tad bland until we seasoned it more. For the Mexican dumpling, I mixed refried black beans, soyrizo (or spicy chorizo or ground pork works), green onions, cilantro and minced radish for crunch. I've also made stuffing and turkey dumplings dipped in gravy for Thanksgiving. Feel free to improvise.


When you make the dough, mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. Make a little well in the middle of the flour mixture and pour in the water. Mix it with a spoon and add a little more flour until it's combined and smooth. Flour a wooden board and dump out the dough. Knead the dough until smooth, adding more flour if the mixture is too soft or watery. When you knead the ball of dough, turn it 90 degrees each time so you're folding it over in different areas.

Once you're done kneading, wrap a cloth or plastic wrap around the ball of dough and let it set for 20 minutes to half an hour for the gluten bonds to be right. When you finish kneading, if you poke at the dough, you should leave a little hole/deep finger print that stays in the dough. After 30 minutes when it's set, when you poke the dough, it should spring back halfway.

Resting dough
Roll it out in a pasta roller or pasta rolling attachment to a stand mixer on the widest setting. Each time you roll it out, fold the dough into thirds like an envelope fold.

1. Lay out rolled dough
2. Fold a third over in the middle
3. Fold the other third over
Each time you feed it into the roller, rotate the dough's orientation 90 degrees. This means sometimes you will feed the dough fold-first into the roller and the next time you fill feed the dough packet with the folds facing left and right, like in the photo above.

You will lacquer the dough by continuing to fold it up, roll it out and fold it again. Once it's completely smooth, you can simply decrease the thickness and roll it out until you have a long stretch of dough to cut. You can cut the dough into dumpling wrapper squares or circles if you have a cookie or biscuit cutter.

Rolled dough, ready to just be rolled out thinner

You can prepare the dumplings a few different ways. You can boil the dumplings and scoop them out once they float, ravioli-style. You can pan sear them, which is one of my favorite ways of serving them. You can also deep fry them to a golden brown which works best if you have a deep fryer.

Make sure you have enough flour and don't stack the dumplings or they will stick together. It's best to cook them right away after wrapping them.

Wrapping shrimp dumplings into round packets for boiling
Pan-seared dumplings potsticker-style
  • Mix soy sauce or tamari with a dash of sesame oil and sriracha for a dip for the shrimp dumpling.
  • Serve the ricotta chickpea dumpling with an Indian fruit chutney.
  • Dip the Mexican dumplings in salsa... or if you're in love with Velveeta and cheese sauce, queso.

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