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Steamed Dumplings of Bird, Bean or Pig

[whitespace] A recipe by 'Dr. P.'

For steaming liquid:

  • 1 small head of garlic, smashed
  • 2 lemons, cut crosswise in 1/8-inch slices
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • several peppercorns
  • 3 cups water

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Layer the lemon and garlic on a large square of foil and drizzle with olive oil, add peppercorns and the bay leaf, and seal the foil. Bake the package until the garlic is soft--about 45 minutes.

Open the foil and scrape all the lemon, garlic, juice, bay leaf and pepper into the bottom of a steamer. Add the water and bring to a boil. Begin the steaming of the dumplings as directed below. Be sure to keep an eye on the water level as you cook, and add more water as necessary.

The dumplings:

  • 1 or 2 cups cooked white rice
  • 1/2 lb. minced chicken breast, turkey breast, tofu or pork, (pork is best)
  • 2-3 inches fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small red bell pepper, diced very, very small
  • 2 ribs celery, diced very, very small
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 5 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 tsp. grated lemon zest
  • 1 tsp. coarse salt
  • dash of white pepper
  • 8 or so scallions, green part only, leaves separated and sliced lengthwise once or twice
  • 12 leaves of Chinese, or Napa, cabbage, halved

Mix the rice, meat, bell pepper, celery, cilantro, garlic, ginger, lemon zest, salt and pepper in a bowl. Steam the cabbage leaves and the scallions briefly over the steaming liquid (less than one minute). Place them on a large plate or a work surface. Remove the steaming liquid from the heat. Place 3 tbsp. of meat filling near the end of a leaf-half and roll it up. Tie the dumpling closed with the scallion. Repeat this until all of the filling and leaves are used up.

Bring the steaming liquid to a boil again. Steam the dumplings for 15 minutes, check for doneness and remove them from heat immediately. Serve right away.

While the dumplings are steaming, you might make N.'s dipping sauce: a scallion sliced fine in a mixture of soy sauce, a touch of the steaming liquid--or of bonito stock (bring bonito flakes and water to just under a boil and strain immediately)--and a little bit of rice vinegar.

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From the August 10-23, 1998 issue of the Metropolitan.

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