In the aftermath of Christmas, the UK’s leftovers apparently amount to the equivalent of 263,000 turkeys. That’s more stale, pale meat than the population of Westminster, and it’s not particularly popular beyond Boxing Day.
There are only so many surplus turkey sandwiches we can eat, and if the other option is “coronating” them, in mayonnaise and curry powder, I say bin the lot. But Ning Ma, of Beijing street food restaurant Mama Lan’s, says we’re missing a trick if we don’t turn the turkey deluge into dumplings. Ma invites me to a dumpling masterclass in London’s East Village, to show me what to do. It’s pretty easy, if you’re happy for your dumplings to look like the pastry doppelganger of Sloth off The Goonies and you don’t mind them tasting like a rawhide chew shoe for dogs.
How can other people make better dumplings than me, at home? ‘You must remember to flour your surface, so your dumpling doesn’t stick, or the skin will break when you try to lift it.’ OK, anything else? ‘The key is getting the skin the right texture and consistency to take the stuffing. In China, it’s really hot in summer, so you use cold water, but the UK tends to be quite cold, so I use warm water to bind the flour.’
In the meantime, if you need a nudge to drink more this Christmas, there’s one last word from Ma, ‘have the dumplings with Chinese beer or Baigu rice wine – it goes really well!’
Dough (per person)
200g good quality flour
120ml warm water
Stuffing (per person)
100g shredded turkey
1 tablespoon water + more for cooking
20g spring onion, finely chopped
1 small piece of ginger (10g), peeled and finely chopped
3½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1.5 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1 teaspoons sesame oil
50g white onions, finely chopped
50g cabbage, finely chopped, salted and squeezed
Put the flour inside the bowl of a mixer. Using a kneading attachment and with the machine running, gradually add the warm water. The flour and water should form into a dough ball. Keep the mixer on a medium speed to knead the dough for five minutes. The dough should be smooth. Place the dough on a floured surface, cover with a bowl or cling film and leave to rest for at least 30 mins.
1. The first step is to make the filling. If you have leftover turkey from Christmas dinner, use a blender to shred it, then put it in a bowl, add the water, and beat it, until all the water has gone inside the turkey.
2. Add ginger and spring onion and mix well.
3. Add the salt, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce and sesame oil to the mixture.
4. Add the vegetables inside the mixture, beat until the mixture has become a patty consistency.
5. Make the dumplings following the dumpling dough instructions.
Constructing the dumplings
1. On a floured surface, knead the dough a few times and then use a knife to cut into long thin pieces (ie. cut lengthwise). Work with one piece at a time (cover the rest). Roll into a long thin sausage shape (about 2cm thick) and then cut into 2cm lengths so you get a cube shape.
2. Flatten each cube with the palm of your hand to get a small thick disc. Using a rolling pin, roll out to get a bigger disc (roll from the outside to the centre, turn and repeat until you have gone around the whole circle). The centre should be slightly thicker than the outside.
3. They are now ready to be filled with the dumpling mixture. Use a fork or a spoon to put some filling in the middle of the wrapper and shape into dumplings. Make sure the edges are properly sealed together, otherwise they will burst during cooking.
4. They can be cooked straight away or frozen for a later date.
Cooking the dumplings
1. Gently place the dumplings in a non-stick pan (very important), make sure they are the right way up. Fill the pan with water so that the water comes half-way up the dumplings. Cover with a lid, leaving a gap for steam and bring to a boil, simmer until the dough is cooked (looks slightly translucent) and the dumplings swell slightly. This usually takes 8-10 mins.
2. Pour the water out of the pan, whilst keeping the dumplings inside, rinse with cold water and pour away again to get rid of some of the starch. Put the pan back on a high heat and allow the water to evaporate. When the pan is dry, add a little oil (enough to cover the base of the pan). Resist the temptation to move the dumplings around, they will come off after a few minutes when the base is crisp.
3. Serve hot with a combination of light soy sauce, Chinkiang vinegar and chili oil.
Samantha Rea can be found tweeting here