Dumplings are part of most countries’ cuisines, and I have been making my own fair share of German, Eastern European and South American versions. What I had never attempted before were Chinese dumplings: with their intricate shapes and complex flavours, they seemed way out of my league. But this all changed – thanks to this blog! When I started blogging I wasn’t really concerned about readers – I simply needed a vent, a way of documenting my kitchen adventures, and a blog seemed a good idea. Over the weeks and months, however, I have discovered a wealth of like-minded people who really surprised me with their generosity, both in terms of sharing of ideas and recipes, as well as by supporting my own attempts with their lovely comments and helpful suggestions. Reading about your adventures made me a more adventurous cook and baker, and what had seemed at times a rather lonely hobby has become a means of communication, putting me in touch with other bakers and cooks from all over the globe.
But on a more local level, too, has blogging opened up a new world for me, this time in form of an invitation to take part in a dumpling course at Covent Garden’s School of Wok, an oriental cookery school run by the inspirational Jeremy Pang. It was great to meet the writers behind blogs I had been enjoying for a long time, like Marita from My Dinner, while following Jeremy’s instructions to make a whole range of Chinese-inspired dumplings.
The evening kicked off with barbecue pork puffs: while the char siu filling had been prepared for us, we attempted to cut and fold puff pastry as instructed by Jeremy. The complimentary Prosecco clearly didn’t help … Next on the list were wontons: again the filling, chicken and crab, had been prepared for us, and we were instructed to copy the ‘Batman-fold’ Jeremy expertly demonstrated: Can you see the batman wings? Obviously it looked much less professional when we got to copy it ourselves: Once we had (sort of) mastered the technique, we attempted these Korean-style kimchee dumplings, which required the (clearly traditionally Chinese) ‘Mickey Mouse’s ears’ fold: While we were folding, the staff kindly boiled, baked and fried our dumplings, which we were served in between tasks. Whi would have thought our first wontons would look quite so professional! Fair enough, serving them in bright red Chinese dishes and with chop sticks helps 😉 The highlight of the evening, however, were the spring rolls filled with Nutella, banana and cooked glutinous rice flour – I particularly enjoyed the Korean-inspired ‘glue’ solution of rubbing banana onto the spring roll pastry, to fix it. Ingenious. As you can gather from the pictures, we had a ball. The mix of chat and cooking, as well as the hands-on approach to Chinese-style cooking made this a great night out. Jeremy’s wonderfully relaxed style, both in his instructions and in the way he mixed different styles of cooking, clearly encouraged me to come up with my own take on Chinese-style dumplings, in a desperate attempt to use up the last remnants of my pulled pork. These dumplings are easy enough to make and are an excellent snack or a starter, or an impressive party dish! I only used some spring onions and soy sauce to ‘Chinesify’ the flavour of my pork, so feel free to experiment.
Pulled Pork Puffs
- leftover pulled pork
- spring onions/scallions
- brown soy sauce
- puff pastry
- sesame seeds or nigella seeds
- beaten egg, for glazing
Mix the pork with the finely sliced spring onions and soy sauce. Line a baking tray or two with baking parchment. Roll out the puff pastry to 2-3 mm and cut out round shapes, roughly 6-7 cm in diameter. Add a little heap of the meat into the centre, brush with the egg and fold between your thumbs and index fingers to create a triangular shape. Push the edges together to avoid spillage; dip the dumpling into the egg and sprinkle the sesame over it. Leave the finished dumplings in the fridge for around 30 minutes as this will improve the rise. Bake at 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.I was invited to this event by the Gorkana group. Apart from the course, the materials, drinks and the finished food we were also given a complimentary wok and a cute plastic bag, which is the perfect size for carrying my marking. I wasn’t asked to write a review, but I clearly found it exciting enough to write about it in this post. The views expressed here are entirely my own, obviously positively influenced by the yummy food, the plastic bag, and the incredibly transferable skills I picked up on the night. Should you require further clarification, please let me know and I’ll post a picture of the bag 😉