Daifuku dumplings

A short intro to daifuku from the show, “Cooking with dog”.  Fortunately, as they say, “it’s not what you think”. Enjoy!

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Mouthwatering Melbourne

In the not too distant past, the people of Canberra enjoyed a long weekend. Dan and I skipped town and drove to Melbourne for dumpling adventures.

Shanghai Street

Dumpling and chives

A golden Shanghai Street dumpling.

This is THE place recommended to me by Dan’s family. James is in there once a week for a fix of xiao long bao. He’s not the only one. There was a cue out the door and onto the street, even on the drizzly cold night we dragged ourselves out for a bite to eat. Coincidently we even ran into our old friend Claire, who we hadn’t seen in years.

When you walk through the door, the smell of vinegar hits your nostrils and makes you feel warm from the inside out. The pan-fried dumplings are crispy, the wontons are delicate and there’s a fine balance of textures. There’s as much love that goes into the wrappers as the fillings in this place. The menu isn’t huge, but the varieties they do have taste like heaven.

This place serves the best dumplings I’ve eaten since I started this blog. It’s also reasonably priced. If you can, go now.

HuTong

What can I say – we walked through the door – they asked if we had a booking – I said no – they laughed. HuTong is possibly the most famous dumpling house in Melbourne. Is it a wonder we couldn’t get in on a Sunday morning? Can’t blame a girl for trying.

Two dumplings, one being picked up by chopsticks

Having a bite at the Shark Fin Inn.

Shark Fin Inn

After being the joke of HuTong, we gave the Shark Fin Inn a go. Their yum cha isn’t bad. It’s actually better than anything we can get here in Canberra, but it’s no Shanghai Street!

Bonus tip

If you’re a cheese fan – and we certainly are – make sure you head to the La Latteria mozzarella factory when you’re next in Melbourne. Before jumping back into the car and heading home, we filled the esky with $60+ of fresh cheese and learnt a few stretching tips for making our own mozzarella. Well worth the visit!

Good hobbies and great dumplings

It wasn’t long ago, when I first heard of Postcrossing. Taryn and I were travelling through Spain and we had plenty of time to relax and discuss our hobbies over mojitos.

I showed Taryn how to find small plastic containers hidden in shrubs using hi-tech satellites (otherwise known as Geocaching). She taught me how to send postcards to strangers across the globe and get some back in return (otherwise known as Postcrossing).

Postcrossing is a great way of exchanging bite-sized bits of cultural info. Here’s a card I received, with an intro to Taiwanese dumplings!

Front

Taiwan postcard front

Back

Taiwan postcard back

Jean then got in touch with me with a recipe that she recommends for boiled dumplings. I look forward to trying them out!

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+1 dumpling skillz

WoW shrimp dumplings

I learnt how to make dumplings in World of Warcraft. My quest for dumpling domination is complete.

Perhaps surprisingly there are a few types of dumplings in World of Warcraft including festival dumplings and smoked desert dumplings. As part of the recently released Mists of Pandaria expansion, I learnt how to make shrimp dumplings.

One of my favourite /silly comments in the new expansion is from the male pandas, “You look like you’ve lost some weight. That’s terrible. Have a dumpling.” Well said!

Have your dumplings and wear them too!

Have your dumplings and wear them too!

Eat.Me.Do makes some tasty-looking jewellery. This dumpling necklace looks good enough to eat!  After my recent visit to Melbourne I understand where local designer, Lara Ivachew, gets her inspiration.

Easy empanadillas

This recipe for empanadillas is just so easy. Mix up your fillings, they’re limited only by your imagination! I’ve already made four different savoury flavours that have all been well received. I think they’d also be fabulous filled with custard, nutella or any stewed fruit. Let me know how you go!

Cutting circles of pastry

Ingredients

  • Frozen sheets of puff pastry
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Then, choose your own adventure.

Cheesy

  • Mozzarella cheese

Baby spinach and fetta

  • Fetta
  • Baby spinach (blanched in hot water)

Olive and cheese in the centre of a circle of pastryMushroom

  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Mushrooms

Olive and anchovy

  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Anchovy stuffed green olives

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C or 180°C for fan forced.
  2. Dice the cheese into 5 mm cubes.
  3. Emapnadillas in a bowlChop any other ingredients you’ve chosen, so they’re about the same size with roughly the same quantity as the cheese.
  4. Put the chopped ingredients in a bowl, season with salt and pepper to taste, then gently mix together.
  5. Allow the puff pastry to thaw for 5 mins.
  6. Use an 8 cm circular scone cutter to press out circles of pastry.
  7. Gently pile a teaspoon of filling in the centre of each circle.
  8. Pinch the circles in half. You may need to dampen the edges of the pastry with a little water to get a firm seal.
  9. Use a sharp knife to make small slits in the top of each pastry.
  10. Place the pastries onto trays lined with baking paper.
  11. Brush each empanadilla with beaten egg.
  12. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.

Make your dumpling famous (with maths)!

You may be surprised, but maths CAN help design a better dumpling.

Do you like apricot dumplings? A chicken dumpling is good, right? How about a macadamia dumpling? All these dumplings sound good by themselves, but together they’re even better.

Here’s how I tested the theory…

Venn diagram dumpling

The perfect size for a meal for one

Ingredients

Three circles of pastry arranged as a Venn diagram

Arrange the circles of pastry so they overlap on the tray. Use the cutter to gently press the borders into the pastry.

  • 2 sheets frozen shortcrust pastry
  • Chicken mince
  • Small tub diced apricots in syrup
  • 1 tbsp finely diced macadamias
  • 1 tsp honey
  • Egg

Method

  1. Set the oven to 200 °C.
  2. Line a tray with baking paper.
  3. Fry the chicken mince, until just undercooked. Add a little salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Drain the apricots, then use a fork to further crush the diced apricots in a cup.
  5. Mix the macadamias and honey in a separate cup.
  6. Thaw the shortcrust pastry.

    All three fillings in the appropriate parts of the Venn diagram dumpling.

    Add the fillings to the appropriate parts of the Venn diagram dumpling.

  7. Cut the pastry into 6 x 10 cm rounds using a cutter.
  8. On the baking tray, overlap three rounds as they would appear in a Venn diagram (set diagram).
  9. Use the cutter to press lightly on each of the circles, so you can see the boundaries of each circle, without cutting through.
  10. Pop a little of the macadamia filling inside each of the places available in the first circle.
  11. Repeat with a little apricot inside each of the places in the second circle. There will be points where you will begin to mix the two fillings.
  12. Repeat with some chicken filling inside each of the places in the third circle. There will be points where two fillings mix and one point in the centre where all of the fillings mix!

    Finished Venn diagram dumpling

    The finished dumpling!

  13. Place the remaining three pastry circles directly over the bottom three pastry circles.
  14. Seal the pastry with gentle pressure from the cutter over each of the three circles. Then, use your fingers to press shut the outside edges.
  15. Gently score the pastry with a knife, so steam can escape while cooking.
  16. Brush the pastry with a little beaten egg.
  17. Cook the Venn diagram dumpling in the oven until golden brown.

Each part of the dumpling is good, as the ingredients work together at each intersection, but the very best is where all the ingredients mix in the centre. To make an awesome dumpling, it turns out that all I needed to do was apply an aspect of maths comedian Simon Pampena’s ‘Fame algorithm’. It goes something like this: if you have things you like, combining them makes them even better! Genius.

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A sporkful of dumplings

You’d never have guessed it, but I’ve been slack. During August, I heard ABC’s Radio National broadcast a segment about dumplings. A month later … and there’s no longer an audio download on the ABC website. Surprise, surprise! However, after some digging, I found The Sporkful and their chat about all things dumpling.

Dan Pashman and Mark Garrison give a charming and witty American take on dumplings. They pose important questions: do you battle with chopsticks or ask for a fork at an Asian restaurant? After all, “dropping dumplings all over the place is not cultural respect”.

Make sure you stay tuned until the end to hear about how eating a soup dumpling can turn into “complex dumpling surgery”.

You can listen to it here.

Recreating croquettes

Kitchen bench with cooking ingredientsMy latest dumpling adventures should perhaps be relabelled as ‘misadventures’. Last Sunday, I planned to recreate the wonder of the Spanish croquette for my travel buddy, so we could nosh on them while sharing photos from the trip.

Cheese and bacon croquettes

Makes about 20

Ingredients

  • 4 rashers bacon, fat trimmed, finely chopped
  • 2 cups cold mashed potato (Not sure how? Try this)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup plain flour
  • 1 cm cubes of mozzarella cheese
  • 1.5 cups breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • Grapeseed oil

Method

  1. Heat a frying pan on medium heat.
  2. Add bacon and cook until crisp.
  3. Drain the bacon on a plate lined with paper towel.
  4. Combine mashed potato, egg yolk, scallions, bacon and 1/4 cup flour in a large bowl.
  5. Take a cheese cube and roll a tablespoon of mixture around it.
  6. Place the remaining flour on a plate.
  7. Place breadcrumbs on a second plate.
  8. Whisk the egg and milk together in a small bowl.
  9. Roll the croquettes in flour, dip them in egg mixture, then coat them in breadcrumbs.
  10. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat.
  11. Cook the croquettes in batches, turning them every few minutes until golden.
  12. Drain the croquettes on paper towel before serving.

Unfortunately, as I fried up the last batch I was overcome with a wave of nausea. I didn’t even get a photo of the finished product! I barely had the chance to say hello to my guest. I spent the next day or so hanging around a toilet bowl. I won’t go into too much detail in a food blog – it’s just not hygienic. I hope I’m not put off croquettes for life.

Review

Apparently, despite my reaction, it didn’t put anyone else off.

Jas: What did you think, guys?

Dan: … Tasty.

Stace: Soft with a mildly crunchy outer coating. Who could go wrong with a mix of mashed potato, cheese, bacon and breadcrumbs? Dan, were they any good cold?

Dan: … Yup.

…I reckon they were a total croq.

A dearth of dumplings

Croquettes on a plate

Though not what I was hoping to order, these ox tail croquettes were delicious.

The lack of posts on this blog has not been due to lack of trying, but rather because of an unfortunate lack of dumplings.

I recently spent two and a half weeks away from home, leaving cold Canberra for sunny Spain. The holiday was a treat. The warm sunshine provided the perfect contrast to cold mojitos, with a backdrop of exquisitely detailed Moorish architecture. My only complaint? No dumplings.

The closest I came to a dumpling was in Córdoba, a city in Andalucia dating back to ancient times. Here my travel group visited a small gourmet tapas bar. The region is known for its delicious ox tail specialities and here on the menu were ox tail dumplings! Imagine my excitement. So I worked up the courage to order them, a delicacy I’d never tried before. I was feeling adventurous. I was ready!

“No”, said the waiter. They were not serving dumplings that day. I had to settle for ox tail croquettes. Which, fortunately, were still delicious.

At least I had worked out that in this menu translation, they had ’emapanadillas’ as Spanish for ‘dumplings’. Yet, despite being on the look out for empanadillas for the remainder of the trip, none appeared on the menus I could see.

I did, however, become something of a croquette connoisseur. The range I ate included combinations of Spanish ham, bacon, cheese, chicken and more. It wasn’t an entire loss. Plus, if you’re liberal with your definition of dumpling, these crumbed and fried mash potato treats might even count on your dumpling list. They’re definitely a tasty tapas option.