making dumplings from scratch


Another one to add to #opshopbooks. This is a goody. Look out for it!

I love Charmaine Solomon.  I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating.  Love.  The thing is, she makes asian food so accessible.

Like this recipe. For example she notes that if you don’t have Chinese cooking wine you can use dry sherry.  I expect that dry sherry was much more widely available than Chinese cooking wine 20 years ago when ‘Charmaine Solomon’s Asian Collection’ was first published (in 1995 to be exact).

I was inspired to make my own dumplings after India went to a birthday party and made them.  Yoyo, India’s friend, was born in China, and her Dad Oliver was like, ‘really, doesn’t everyone make their own dumplings from scratch?’.

And I thought, well, if everyone else does (including 8 year olds) then I can too. Right?

And I can. And you can.  And here’s a good recipe.  I have made these quite a few times.  Page 60 if you have the cookbook.  Page 59 for the photo …


see the little box pleats …

Shanghai Dumplings

  • 350g minced pork
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese wine or dry sherry
  • 2 spring onions
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 185 grams of plain flour

and …

  • Chinese red vinegar for dipping
  • light soy sauce for dipping

Mix together the pork, salt, soy sauce, wine, finely chopped spring onions and grated ginger. Slowly beat in 4 tablespoons of water.  This makes the filling juicy (it really does).

Measure the flour into a bowl, make a well in the middle and pour in 125ml of cold water.  Using the handle of a wooden spoon or chopsticks mix the dough, working from the middle and gradually incorporating the flour.  Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 or 6 minutes.  The dough will become very smooth.

On a floured surface, roll the dough thinly and cut about 24 circles about 6cm in diameter.  Place a small teaspoon of the meat mixture in the middle of each round.  Make two box pleats on one side of the circle. Dampen the edges with water and seal them together to make the dumplings.

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, add the dumplings and when they rise to the top and the water bubbles furiously, add 250ml of cold water.  Once more let the water bubble up, then add another 250ml of cold water.  This keeps the dough firm and prevents bursting.

Serve hot.  Combine equal amounts of the Chinese red vinegar and a light soy sauce for dipping.

Easy huh?

… and some easy stuffed peppers (tapas or pintxo?)

Is it tapas or pintxo?  It is secured with a toothpick … And you can eat them off the toothpick.  Does the name matter?

I am still aiming to build my spanish starter (tapas) repertoire.  And this is an authentic every day recipe straight from the horses mouth (in saying this Santi, I am not in any way suggesting you are a horse!).

Our friend Santi(ago) is from Spain.  And he likes cooking. I have been asking him for some tips.  He suggested the Pintxo last week.  It was in a loose way mind you … something like, ‘you just put things like olives, spanish cheese and chillies on toothpicks’.  Well, that is really what you need to know, isn’t it?

And also this recipe.  Which he makes for his kids quite often.

All you need out of the ordinary is a jar of whole red peppers.  I always see these jars in mediterranean supermarkets.  But I have never really known what I should do with them.

And now I do!

So, this recipe is equally vague. It goes … you make a bechemel sauce (white sauce).  You put chopped up boiled egg in it and stuff the peppers with this mixture.   You put a toothpick through the the top of the peppers to stop the mixture falling out.  Then you warm them in the oven.  That’s it.  Done.

I can actually be more specific now I have made some.

Red Peppers Stuffed with Egg in a Bechemel Sauce

To make the sauce I put 1 rounded tablespoon flour and 1 rounded tablespoon of butter in a saucepan and cooked it, adding milk along the way to make a thick bechemel.  Oh, and I added some salt and pepper as well.

I let it cool.  I peeled and roughly chopped up 4 boiled eggs and mixed them in.

This was enough for the whole medium sized jar of peppers.  About 25 I guess.

And I had a bit left over (which Clive had in a sandwich with some leftover poached chicken – best sandwich EVER apparently).  So maybe 3 eggs would be enough?


Some technical tips …

When you are stuffing the peppers make sure the stuffing mixture is cool, or you will get in a bit of a mess.  And the peppers are quite delicate when you get them out of the jar.  So be careful not to put holes in them if you can.

But when you heat them the peppers firm up quite a lot. So even if you think it is a disaster, it’s probably not.  The peppers will become firm enough that  you can actually just pick up the toothpick and eat off it (which is hard to imagine when you are making them).

I warmed them in a medium oven (180 degrees) for about 10 minutes.  The peppers went a deeper red when they were heated.


They really are yummy.  And my kids liked them too.  From now on I am going to keep a jar of red peppers in the pantry.  Thanks Santi.

Do you know any other easy ways to use these peppers for tapas?  Or any other simple tapas I should try?

a little spanish bite (pintxo)

I am still a little obsessed with Spanish cooking.  It is my current ‘go to’ for visitors.  And I have been investigating tapas.  I need some entrees to my paella.


Pintxo or pincho are basically tapas on skewers/toothpicks. I think they originated in the Basque region.  When I went to Naked in the Sky I had them. And they were a great start to the night.  So, I thought I would make some at home.

These simple tasty pintxo are so easy to make.

All you do is just put green chilli peppers, manchego cheese and olives on a toothpick.  Delicious.

You can buy these ingredients at delis and supermarkets with a Mediterranean bent all over Melbourne. The chillies come in a jar.


This time I bought big green olives marinated with fennel and preserved lemon.  And I cut them up before I put them on the toothpick. Or you could buy smaller pitted olives and put them straight on the toothpick.  This might be a bit more straightforward (I did have a few techinical issues with pitting giant olives …)

You can eat these pintxo by themselves.  They are perfect accompanied by a dry sherry (yes, I know, sorta Nanna … but sorta cool).