Comfort food, hangover cure, lunch, recipe, Soup

Chinese Style Chicken Soup with Pork Dumplings

Asian style chicken soup with pork dumplings For various reasons, life is a bit annoying at the moment. This happens occasionally – these dips into a void full of work, mild illness and insomnia (recently, I had a sleepless night which was so brutal that the next day, I thought it would be a good idea to whisk tahini into my chicken soup instead of sesame oil. It wasn’t. Never do this.) I am grumpy, sneezy, mildly disheartened and in need of some comfort.  In such circumstances, there’s only one dish which can soothe my soul. Chicken soup with dumplings.

I could very easily live on a dumplings-only diet. From Jewish matzo to Mongolian momo, if it’s small, doughy and delicious, I’ll probably eat it. Recently, I’ve become obsessed with making potstickers, a Chinese dumpling which is briefly fried before being simmered. They’re (relatively) easy to make, freeze beautifully and make the perfect snack when you can barely be bothered to boil up a bowl of noodles. I have wonderful memories of eating huge bowls of super-cheap-and-super-tasty dumpling soup from when I lived in Camden as a student, so knew that the pork and cabbage ones I’d cobbled together would work well plonked into a spicy, head-clearing bowl of chicken broth (even if my pleating skills leave a lot to be desired.)

I’m not going to pretend that this soup is authentic. But on a cold day when life feels like one punch in the gut after another, and you can barely write an email, it really hits the spot.

CHINESE STYLE CHICKEN SOUP WITH PORK DUMPLINGS (Makes one big bowl of soup. Dumplings recipe makes roughly 30 dumplings.)

Dumplings recipe adapted from The Dumpling Sisters

For the soup

  • 300ml chicken stock (preferably home made)
  • 1 thumb sized lump of ginger, sliced into matchsticks
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Chinese rice wine
  • 1 tbsp Chinese black vinegar (if you don’t have any, balsamic is a good substitute)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp chilli oil
  • 1/2 Chinese cabbage, cut into ribbons

For the dumplings

  • 1 pack of frozen dumpling wrappers (you can get these from most Chinese supermarkets)
  • 250g fatty pork mince
  • 1 thumb sized lump of ginger, minced finely
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced finely
  • 1 tsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Chinese rice wine
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 1/2 Chinese cabbage, diced very finely
  • 1 spring onion (green part only), diced finely

Make it!

  1. PREP THE SOUP: Add the ginger matchsticks to the chicken soup, and leave to simmer over a medium heat while you’re prepping the dumplings.
  2. FOR THE DUMPLINGS: Place the shredded cabbage and spring onion in a bowl with the pork mince, sesame oil, rice wine, sugar, soy sauce, minced garlic and ginger and white pepper and mix well (I find it works best if you use your hands – make sure they’re clean!) To check the seasoning, fry a little of the mixture to taste, and season again, if required.
  3. To make the dumplings, lay the wrappers on a clean work surface and cover with a damp tea towel to stop them from drying out. Place 1 teaspoon of the filling onto the middle of a wrapper, brush the edges with a little water, then fold the wrapper in half over the filling into a half moon shape. Pinch the edges to seal (pleating them makes them look nicer, but simply pinching them together with your fingers should work fine – make sure they’re properly sealed before cooking though!) then place bottom-side down onto a plate which has been lightly dusted with cornflour (a tablespoon or so should do.) Repeat with the remaining ingredients – you should end up with roughly 30 in total. Keep five for the soup, and freeze the remaining 25 (or just place them in the fridge so you can snack on them later.)
  4. Heat a good splash of oil in a large non-stick frying pan over a high heat, then add the potstickers, bottom-side down, in a single layer (you may need to do this in batches). Reduce the heat to medium and fry for 2 minutes, or until the undersides are brown and crispy.
  5. While you’re frying the dumplings, add the soy sauce, Chinese rice wine, vinegar, sesame oil, chilli oil and shredded Chinese cabbage to the chicken stock, and leave to simmer for around five minutes. Taste, and add more seasonings if required.
  6. Once all the dumplings have been fried, gently add them to the soup. Leave to cook for 5 – 7 minutes. Serve immediately with a good squirt of Sriracha.
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