You can practice now for Chinese New Year, Feburary 8, 2016.  It's the year of the Monkey, so why not monkey around in your kitchen making some traditional steamed dumplings?

Dim Sum/ Pot Stickers Four Ways (If making only one variety, 30 minutes, including the knife work. Yield about 24 dumplings per variety) (For each variety, including the fried pot stickers, you will need to wet the edges of the wonton wrappers with your fingers for them to seal)

Dipping Sauce:

1/2 C. soy sauce

2 tsp. spicy sesame oil

1 Tb. orange juice

¼ tsp. orange zest

¼ tsp. grated fresh ginger

2 Tb. honey

Combine all ingredients and pour into a large zip top bag. Refrigerate.  Shake the sauce in the bag prior to serving to re-incorporate the ingredients.

Spicy Orange Shrimp Dim Sum:

juice and zest of ½ orange

¼ tsp. finely diced chile pepper (or more to taste)

2 Tb soy sauce

1 Tb. vegetable oil

2 Tb. spicy sesame oil

1 tsp. honey

1/8 tsp. grated fresh ginger.

½ lb. raw, peeled shrimp, diced

3 Tb. finely diced water chestnuts

¼ C. bok choy, chiffonade (it doesn’t shred well in a grater)

2 Tb. lemon grass, smashed and diced

1 Tb. diced green onion

2 Tb. corn starch

Prepared wonton wrappers (*you can find them in the produce isle right below the bok choy and other Asian style vegetables of one store that starts with “W” . That store also has them in a freezer dedicated to Asian cuisine.)

Combine the orange juice, zest, soy sauce, vegetable oil, sesame oil, honey and ginger in a large, zip-top bag and shake. Add shrimp. Make sure the shrimp is well coated and allow to marinate in the refrigerator about 30 minutes. Remove the shrimp from the bag and drain well.  Toss in the water chestnuts. bok chow, lemon grass and green onion.  Mix to evenly distribute then add corn starch and toss to evenly coat.  Spoon a scant tsp. of filling into the center of the wrapper.  You can fold over in half and crimp the edge with your fingers or a fork or you can fold opposite ends together and pinch the four seams to make a “beggar’s purse” dumpling. (See cooking instructions following all the recipes.)

Lemon Chicken Dim Sum

2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, finely chopped or ground in a food processor

2 Tb. lemon grass, smashed and diced

¼ C. bok choy, chiffonade

2 Tb. grated carrots

1 tsp. lemon zest.

¼ tsp grated ginger

1 tsp. toasted sesame seeds.

1 Tb. corn starch (less than the shrimp since the chicken is dryer)

wonton wrappers

Mix together the chicken, vegetables and ginger. Coat in corn starch and toss with sesame seeds.  Fill the wonton wrappers the same as with the shrimp instructions.  If you are making more than one variety, change the way each variety looks to keep track of which is what.

Shitake Mushroom Dim Sum

¼ lb. Shitake mushrooms, washed and woody stems removed, thinly sliced

½ C. bok choy chiffonade

1 Tb. grated carrot

1 tsp. toasted sesame seeds

½ Tb. green onion, diced

About 4 Tb. softened goat cheese

wonton wrappers

Combine all ingredients. Wet the edges of the wonton wrappers with wet fingers and spoon a scant spoonful of filling in the middle and seal the edges as per previous instructions. (Make sure the seals are really tight since the cheese can melt out)

Marco Polo Pot Stickers (a nod to Italy exploring Aisa)

4 Tb. softened goat cheese

1 C. Prosciutto di Parma

¼ tsp grated ginger

1 tsp. lemon grass, smashed and diced

wonton wrappers

Oil for frying (about 2 Tb. vegetable oil)

Wet the edges of the wontons.  Heat the oil over medium high.  Spread goat cheese down the center of each wonton. Top with ginger and lemon grass then the Prosciutto.  Fold and seal.  Make sure the seal is tight so the cheese doesn’t leak out.  Fry on each side until golden brown.  Remove and drain.

*Any of the other dumplings can also be fried as Pot Stickers, instead of steamed.

Cooking instructions:

If you have a bamboo steamer, great! If it’s new, wash it and soak it in clear water for a half hour before first use.  Line the bottom of each tier with a layer of lettuce or cabbage leaves to prevent the dumplings from sticking.  Bring water to a simmer in a wok or a pan large enough for the steamer to fit snugly on top.  Place dumplings in the steamer with the ones that take the longest, like chicken or pork on the bottom.  Do not crowd the dumplings.  Cover and steam 10-15 minutes.  Dumplings can be kept warm in the steamer with the heat turned off until ready to serve.

*If you don’t have a bamboo steamer, you can steam the dumplings in small batches in a traditional steamer basket that fits in the bottom of a sauce pan. Make sure the water level does not come up to touch the bottom of the steamer.

Funny story.  Most people who have “Make Dim Sum” on their cooking bucket list would make just one kind to see if they can do it.  I’m dumb.  I made four varieties, chopping the vegetables for all in one shot, manually dicing the chicken instead of using a food processor and washing everything as I went along.  The knife-work alone took an hour!  While I cooked from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., if you make only one or two, you can have your Dim Sum in 20-30 minutes.