Chinese Duck and Shiitake Dumplings

Categories: Kidney Qi Vacuity, Lung Qi Vacuity, Lung Yin Vacuity, Wei Qi Vacuity

Chinese Duck and Shiitake Dumplings
Yields about thirty-six 3-inch dumplings.

For the dough:
6-3/4 oz. (1-1/2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour; more for kneading

For the filling:
Half a roast duck, preferably Beijing-style
8 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes
1/2 tsp. granulated sugar
6 oz. spinach, washed and trimmed
1/4 cup finely chopped water chestnuts
2 medium scallions, thinly sliced
1-1/2 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
1 Tbs. soy sauce
1 tsp. cornstarch
Freshly ground black pepper

To finish the dumplings:
Kosher salt, as needed (for boiled dumplings)
Vegetable oil, as needed (for pan-fried dumplings)
1 recipe Ginger Vinegar or Scallion-Soy Dipping Sauce

Make the dough:
Pour the flour into a mound on a clean work surface. Make a deep, wide well in the center and pour in 1/2 cup cold water. Stir with your fingers, staying in the center at first and being careful that the water doesn’t breach the wall. Little by little, using your hand and a bench knife, mix in flour from the sides until the dough starts to come together. (Alternatively, put the flour in a medium bowl. Make a well, add the water, and stir first with a spoon and then your hand.) If the dough remains in shreds, sprinkle in additional water, a teaspoon at a time, until it begins to stick together. Don’t add too much water or the dough will be difficult to work.

Knead the dough for 5 minutes to form a smooth, firm, elastic ball. (If you began the dough in a bowl, lightly dust a clean, dry surface with flour before kneading.) The dough should not be sticky and should bounce back when pressed with a fingertip. Divide in half with a bench knife and roll into two 6-inch logs. Sprinkle each log evenly with flour, cover with a clean kitchen towel, and let rest for at least 30 minutes at room temperature before rolling and filling.

Make the filling:
Separate the duck meat from the bones and skin; shred the meat finely by hand. Cut the stems from the mushrooms and discard. Squeeze excess moisture from the caps and chop finely. Transfer the duck and mushrooms to a medium bowl.

In a 12-inch skillet, bring 2 Tbs. of water and the sugar to a boil over high heat. Add the spinach and cook, stirring, until wilted, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Squeeze the excess water from the spinach and transfer to a cutting board to cool. Chop finely.

Stir the spinach, water chestnuts, scallions, ginger, soy sauce, cornstarch, and 1/4 tsp. black pepper into the duck and mushrooms. Transfer to a bowl and let cool.
Cut and roll the dough
Cut each log in half crosswise. Cut each half crosswise into thirds, and then slice each of those pieces into three even coins. You should have 36 pieces of equal size. Toss the pieces in flour to coat evenly and then cover with a clean towel so they don’t dry out.

Using a small rolling pin, roll a piece of dough into a thin 3-inch circle; with the dough in one hand and the pin in the other, roll from the edges toward the center as you rotate the dough. This rolling technique helps create a round with thin edges and a thicker center.

Fill and shape the dumplings:

Tip: If you have helpers, set up an assembly line and roll out each wrapper, then pass it along to the next person to fill. If you’re filling all the dumplings yourself, it’s best to roll out several wrappers, and keep them covered with a kitchen towel as you fill them, to prevent them from drying out.

Spoon 1 to 2 tsp. of the filling onto a dough circle, fold it in half, and then if you’re going to boil the dumplings, seal it by pinching along the curved edge. If you’re planning to pan-fry the dumplings for pot stickers, make your first pinch at the center of the curved edge and then pleat toward the center on both sides to create a rounded belly. This wider shape allows the dumplings to sit upright in the pan and form a flat surface for browning.

Repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling. As you work, arrange the filled dumplings in a single layer without touching on large plates, so they don’t stick together.

To cook: either boil the dumplings…
Bring a large (7- to 8-quart) pot of salted water to a boil. Working in 2 or 3 batches to avoid overcrowding, quickly add the dumplings one at a time, making sure they don’t stick to each other. Lower the heat to medium and continue to boil, gently stirring occasionally, until the dumplings float and are cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and serve immediately with your choice of dipping sauce.

…or pan-fry the dumplings:
Heat 2 Tbs. vegetable oil in a heavy-duty 10- or 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Working quickly and in batches if necessary (adding more oil for the second batch if needed), arrange the dumplings belly side down in concentric circles starting from the outer edge. Cook until golden brown on the bottom, 1 to 2 minutes. Pour in about 1/2 cup water or enough to come about a third of the way up the sides of the dumplings, bring to a boil, cover, and cook until all of the water has been absorbed, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the lid, reduce the heat to medium, and continue cooking just until the dumplings are dry and crisp on the bottom, 1 to 2 minutes. Loosen the dumplings from the pan with a spatula. Invert the pan over a plate to flip the dumplings, browned side up, onto the plate (or transfer with a spatula). Serve immediately with your choice of dipping sauce.

TCM Analysis- Overall, this recipe strongly tonifies the Lung Qi and Yin, boosts the Wei Qi, lowers cholesterol, and strengthens the Kidneys. The addition of Ginger with the duck helps to digest the recipe, because of their ability to strengthen the stomach, and prevent dampness.