It’s been many years since I was able to eat authentic Chinese food.
Mainly this is because gluten and I don’t get along. I have trouble communicating my dietary needs in most Chinese restaurants, where English is not the first language and where the question “can you do anything gluten free?” generally produces a blank stare, let alone more in-depth enquiries about cross-contamination. The way the food is produced causes most of the problems. I’ve observed that all noodles are dunked into the same vat of boiling water, be they wheat or rice noodles, so I’m not even safe with rice noodles. Soy sauce is everywhere, and dishes made without it are stirred with the same utensils as dishes made with it. It just hasn’t been worth it. I’ve made my own poor imitations, but I’ve missed certain dishes I thought were out of my gluten-free reach.
Until now. I have cracked the recipe for one of my all-time favourites: potsticker dumplings. These divine little parcels of yumminess are first fried gently until the bottom is crispy and brown, and then steamed to cook the rest through. They’re stuffed with cabbage, pork, garlic, ginger and onion, and they are so incredibly moreish that the Husband and I noshed a plateful each and still looked wistfully for more…
I used this recipe as my start point, and I’d suggest following the video rather than the written recipe/process for a better result. Using GF soy sauce and substituting dry sherry for rice wine is a no brainer, and the filling was soon ready – I used chopped roast pork instead of fatty minced pork, and a little of the jellied pork stock to keep it juicy.
The dumpling skins were another matter. Gluten free flour just doesn’t behave the same way as the normal stuff, and kneading and resting dough to develop or relax the gluten is an exercise in futility. I used the same quantities as in the recipe, but added a scant tablespoonful of sunflower oil and a half teaspoon of xanthan gum to the mixture, and kept the kneading to a minimum.
Gluten free doughs also dry out much, much faster, so I cut off only what I was about to use, and kept the rest in an airtight container under a damp cloth until I was ready to use it. I don’t have a proper dumpling rolling pin, and that’s now high on the shopping list because it will make producing the skins a lot easier. My dough is a little more fragile than the wheat kind, and produces a slightly translucent dumpling due to the high proportion of rice flour in the GF mixture, but neither I nor the Husband found there to be a discernible difference in the taste. The soft top and crispy bottoms were perfect.
We both agree, however, that extensive further testing and sampling is going to be required. I’m thinking prawn and sweet chilli next time…