Saturday, November 20, 2010
Sui - Jao (Boiled Dumplings)
This was one of my Dad's most favourite foods, and I have to admit that for me it is comfort food at its max. In many Chinese restaurants they make these tasty morsels with pork; as Muslims, this was not something that Dad (or us) would be able to eat. So we always ordered them with beef, and when we went to the Muslim Chinese restaurants that specialized in Northern Chinese cuisine, Dad enjoyed the "real taste from home" when they made them with lamb, or beef and lamb mixed together.
At home, I have some of the best memories of the four of us sitting around the kitchen table making these little dumplings. Especially around Chinese New Year, it was tradition in my family to make and eat hundreds of these goodies, since the shape is akin to the old Chinese gold currency which is called Yuan Bao. So eating these are good luck. I remember we made so many that we'd freeze them and then pop them into large ziploc baggies so we would have lots for the holidays and some for other times of the year too.
Very much like the Russian pelmeni, these goodies are filled with meat, veggies, garlic, onions, ginger, and spices.
Since we are still celebrating Eid-Al-Ahda holiday, and lamb is something that we should be eating much of, I made our dinner tonight with a half-half mix of ground lamb and beef. The first bite actually brought tears to my eyes as my memories from my youth, stories of my Dad's youth, the meaning of this holiday, and many, MANY years of enjoying these delicious morsels with my Dad came flooding back to me. I thought with joy and with some sorrow of my Dad, how I wished he were here with us, enjoying these tasty treats and the celebrations. But, I do take comfort in believing that I think he is somewhere close by, and watching us enjoy ourselves eating and sharing in the memories, and now creating our own memories.
This dish is really easy to make, but the only time consumption is sealing them in the dough packets. We used to make the dough from scratch and roll out the dough etc, but we found a really great short cut, and that is using dough dumpling wrappers from the Chinese/Asian grocery store. These are the perfect size and really do cut down on the job.
1/2 lb ground halal beef
1/2 lb ground halal lamb
1/4 head of cabbage, diced very finely
3 TBSP chopped Chinese parsley (cilantro)
1 stalk spring onion, chopped finely
1 stalk leek, washed very well and chopped finely
6 cloves garlic
1" piece ginger
3 TBSP oil (vegetable)
2 tsp sesame oil
3 TBSP light soy sauce
1 TBSP dark soy sauce
1 TBSP all purpose flour
3 TBSP cold water - or enough water to make a good but still runny paste
1. Add the meat and vegetables to a large mixing bowl
2. In a blender (or Magic Bullet blender), blend very well together the oils, soy sauces, ginger, and garlic
3. Add the blender mix to the meat and veg mix; remove your rings and mix by hand very well
4. Using a teaspoon add meat and veg mix to the middle of the dumpling wrapper
5. Using your finger tip, dip finger into the flour and water paste and put a small amount around the edge of half of the filled wrapper.
6. Fold over the edges and pinch together very well creating a very good seal.
7. Set aside until all the sui-jao's are created. Boil water in a pot adding enough chicken stock powder to flavour the boiling water well. Drop each sui-jao into the boiling water*, do not over crowd the pot. They will begin to rise. Using a spider net or a slotted spoon, stir them gently to ensure they get cooked well on all sides and that they don't start sticking together. Let them cook for about 8-10 minutes. Remove from water with slotted spoon and serve them dry immediately.
* Traditionally, you will boil them in a very large pot leaving enough space at the top that as soon as the water boils (with the sui-jao inside the pot), add a glass of cold water. When the water boils again, add another glass of cold water, and then repeat this a third time. When the water boils again for the last time, the sui-jao will be all cooked.
You can drink the stock by itself later, or you can serve the sui-jao in the stock and you can add some chopped cabbage (or other leafy greens to the stock).
1 TBSP Chinese Light Soy Sauce (do NOT use Kikomen brand for this as it will give it too much of a different flavour)
1 TBSP Chinese Dark Mushroom Soy Sauce
1 TBSP Chinese Chinkiang Vinegar
1 tsp Sesame Oil
1 dash Sri Racha chili sauce (optional)
Mix all ingredients together well, and serve together with the sui-jao
Here are the photos of the ingredients you will need to buy from the Asian supermarket for the dipping sauce: