hazelnut leek dumplings
i don't know if i can recall a more pleasurable food-in-mouth experience than with a precious ravioli i stuffed whole into my mouth. this happened in a small dim lit cave-like restaurant in tuscany and i'm pretty sure everyone was still able to see my eyes roll to the back of my head as i utterly melted into my chair. this heavenly ravioli was a warm pillow of creamy ricotta and sweet squash with pleasant bites of crunchy hazelnuts sprinkled within.
i nearly blacked out, as i usually do, from all the natural oxytocin that surged in my body from that small but life-changing ravioli.
a few days ago, i was bedridden with a random head cold and all i wanted to do was make my body feel good. i laid in bed and my mind wandered into a daydream of my happiest food moments along with foods that felt like a big hug. then came the idea to adapt that hazelnut crunch inside of a mandoo (korean for dumpling). God works for the good, even with the bad like this head cold. His good this time (i'm convinced) was revealed by way of a mandoo idea.
i was nowhere near any state of recovery to say the least, or even begin the laborious process of making dumplings from scratch, but a mandoo girl's gotta do to make her mandoo dreams come true. so jokes on me. 6 hours later after making the dough, rolling out the skins, mixing up the innards, and forming 9 thousand mandoos while blasting cardi b in the background to stay awake, i was finally able to steam the first batch.
my mind exploded again and i was instantly cured from all the good feels that these hazelnut leek and pork dumplings surged into my immune system. kidding, that didn't actually happen. but i did the eye-roll-to-the-back-of-my-head thing again, and happily schlepped my now sick and exhausted body back to bed.
hazelnut leek pork dumplings
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup hot water that your hands can uncomfortably work with without burning yourself. err on the side of caution here!
4 cups finely chopped leeks
4 cups ground ground shitake mushroom
1 pound ground pork
1 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts
1 egg beaten
4 tablespoons xiao xing wine
2 tablespoons viet huong fish sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon pepper
make the dough: combine flour and 1/2 cup of hot water in a large mixing bowl with hands, begin kneading while gradually adding remainder of hot water (keeping the water hot while kneading helps activate the gluten in flour). knead for 10 minutes or until you press the dough and it rebounds back quickly.
rest the dough: form the dough into a ball, dust with flour, and let it rest in an airtight bag or bowl for 1 hour.
roll out the dough: the traditional way to do this is to roll the dough out into a snake, cut it into pieces, and roll each out. i've tried this method before and it takes forever and a day and cramps your hand. instead, roll the ball out into one large thin sheet and stamp out palm-sized circles using a cookie-cutter (i used a wine glass). use leftover dough, roll out once more, repeat to yield more skins. same same.
store the dough: dust each skin with flour before stacking and storing somewhere airtight. i also like to wrap the stacked skins with a semi-moist paper towel so that the edges don't dry out. dry edges will ruin you in mandoo formation.
mix the liquids together: combine the beaten egg, xiao xing wine, fish sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil together in a small bowl. stir until the sugar's all dissolved.
mix the solids together: this is where you pull out a glove or your bare mixing hand: in a separate larger bowl, mush together the pork, leeks, mushroom, hazelnuts, salt, and pepper into a bowl. mush mush mush until all is evenly combined.
mix the mixed liquids into the solids: mix in the liquids into the solids bowl and mush mush mush again until evenly combined.
you're almost there, now onto mandoo formation.
lay out a few skins on a floured surface, plop a tablespoon of filling onto the skin, and wrap! like snowflakes, each mandoo is unique and can come in different shapes and patterns. i've saved a few cool ways to wrap them here; i used the xiao long bao shape this time because i spent a few hours last summer learning this technique and still feel obligated to give those hours some extra mileage.
take those formed mandoos, lay them on a sheet pan, dust once more with flour so that they don't stick together, and let them chill in the freezer for at least 30 minutes. freezing ensures that the skins stay extra-intact when steaming or boiling.
just so you're not surprised or anything, expect leftover meat filling (almost 2x the skins). i hope you're not mad about this because i sure wasn't. i resolved to making delicious meatballs once you enter delirium from making dumplings. however, if you feel otherwise and...
want more dumplings: double the amount of mandoo skin ingredients
don't want extra delicious meatballs: halve the mandoo filling ingredients
i'm sure you're familiar with how to cook dumplings, but in case you're not, here's some tips sworn by my korean mom and chinese ex-boyfriend's mom (we have decorum from 2 mandoo moms):
steaming: place in a bamboo steamer over boiling water. steam until the skins have translucency to them (10-12 minutes)
boiling: bring pot of water to a full bubbly boil. when placing in the pot, the dumplings should sink and the water should stop boiling. once the water begins boiling again, add a cup of cold water. do this one more time, by then - the dumplings should float to the top (7-8 minutes) and they're ready to eat!