beef mince (or ‘meat free mince’) and celery
Sorry, got carried away with the good weather and beautiful sun. :))))
Keep on making dumplings. :))
Common Chinese dumpling fillings
Now is the fillings. The common dumpling fillings in Northeast China are either beef, lamb, or prawns, seafood, which are normally combined with different vegetables. Of course there are also many vegetarian choices. Popular vegetables that go well with beef, lamb or prawns are the ‘big’ spring onions (here I just use leeks as alternative), celery, or JiuCai. The latter are called ‘garlic chives’ in English (however, there are slight differences between the Jiu Cai and chives in mainland China. )
The dumpling filling I made last week was a mix of beef mince and celery, and this is the filling I am going to explain in more detail next (I will try to discuss some other vegetarian fillings as soon as possible. :))) Even in the recipe I am giving next, the beef mince can be replaced with ‘meat free mince’ as a vegetarian option. :))
Making chinese dumpling fillings
The basic method of making the filling is very simple: just mix the minced meat and vegetables together with the seasonings, and try to prevent the filling from getting too much liquid from the seasonings and vegetables (otherwise it will be too difficult to fold up later).
Beef mince: I prefer to use lean – extra lean mince, however, it can be a bit ‘dry’ for the filling, (it is tastier when you have the first bite if the filling is ‘juicy’ from the fat of the meat and the vegetables), so I normally put more vegetables in, or when we have guests, I would mix in a bit of ‘normal’ mince, so that it contains a bit more ‘fat’ and becomes more tasty:))). Last week, I used a pack of 454g of beef mince.
(Or meat free mince)
Celery: since at home we like to have lots of vegetables in the dumplings, I use 2/3 portion of the typical pack of celery that you can normally find in the supermarket. However, if you are a ‘meat lover’, you can put much less or even none: simply put a bit of celery and spring onion to give the meat a slightly different flavor.
Spring onion (or leeks): actually the leeks can be used alone with beef mince, but here I just want to give the filling a bit more of flavor, so I used half of a leek. (Or you can use two spring onions.)
Ginger: I used only a few slices of ginger, it helps the flavor of beef mince. (needs to be very fine chopped though.)
1) Chop the celery, leek and ginger into the smallest pieces possible – ‘mince’ everything. The best way of doing this is to slice, for instance, celery, as thin as possible diagonally, then chop again cross.
2) Put the mince and chopped celery, leek and ginger all together into a mix bowl.
3) Put salt (according to amount of the mince and vegetables you use), 1 table spoon of cooking wine, 1 table spoon of light soy sauce, 1 tea spoon of spicy powder (or 2 table spoon of spiced water), 1 table spoon of sesame oil, and 3-5 table spoons of oil or flavored oil.
—- Done! Ready to fold up the dumplings! :))
If you think the vegetables contain too much ‘liquid’ which can cause trouble for folding the dumplings, you can try this traditional way: put salt into ‘minced’ vegetables, after a while, the ‘juice’ would come out from the vegetables, then use your hands to squeeze the extra liquid away. However, nowadays, it is said that the juice of the vegetables is very nutritious, so we try to keep them.:))) If you make vegetable fillings, try to put some ‘fensi’(Chinese vermicelli) in, which can help absorb liquid.
If you are preparing the filling with ‘meat free mince’, put a bit more oil to avoid the ‘dryness’, since this type of ‘mince’ could absorb liquid.
Continue here to see how to fold the dumplings.
(Flavored oil – the oil can be made a very sophisticated way: pour the oil in the wok, when it is heated up, put anise star, cinnamon stick, sichuan pepper corn and fresh coriander into the oil. After 3 minutes or more, let the oil cool down. Remove the all seasonings, the flavored oil can be used for mixing the dumping fillings or stir frying… etc.)