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DUNLOP March Cookbooks of Month: Noodles, Dumplings and Rice

There are chapters in each book on Noodles and Dumplings and Rice. Land of Plenty adds "Other Street Treats" and those recipes should be part of this thread.

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  1. So, we tried a meal of Traditional Dan Dan Noodles (LOP, page 87), Dry-Fried Green Beans I (LOP, pg 289), and Cold Chicken with Fragrant Rice Wine (LOP, page 183), the former two because they are some of my favorite dishes from a Sichuan restaurant in town and the latter because we had some leftover cooked chicken to use up.

    Here's the most important thing for you to know about the dan dan noodles. YOU MUST REMEMBER TO RINSE THE TIANJIN (AND SQUEEZE IT DRY) BEFORE YOU USE IT otherwise your recipe will be way way too salty. Dunlop mentions this on page 27 of RC, but I haven't found a similar warning in LOP. We made a number of substitutions in the recipe so I could count it as "core" for Weight Watchers. We used whole wheat spaghetti (instead of Chinese noodles), we used lean ground beef (instead of pork, mostly because I had some I need to use up), and we used only a tsp (instead of a TBSP) of peanut oil. We thought the texture was pretty good--not as slippery as it should be, I don't know if that's because of the noodles we used or the reduced oil or both-- and it looked gorgeous, but, alas, because we did not rinse the tianjin, it was really hard to make a fair assessment of the dish because salty was the predominant flavor. Boo hoo. We are absolutely going to try this one again. I have high hopes. And, it wasn't that hard.

    The photo feature doesn't seem to be working right now, sorry. I'll discuss the chicken and the green beans in the appetizers http://www.chowhound.com/topics/494661 and vegetables http://www.chowhound.com/topics/49466... threads.

    ~TDQ

    23 Replies
      1. re: The Dairy Queen

        I've tried her traditional dan dan, too. I did rinse the preserved vegetable in a strainer under the faucet, but this seemed a hair shy of what I felt I wanted. I do plan to make it again, though. This time I will soak/submerge the stuff first. Also, I will chop it smaller than it comes out of the crock. We had a few overly large pieces in the dish. The preserved vegetable does taste good, just it is very salty.

        I've tried it with "fresh" linguine from the refrigerator case and with dried Chinese noodles. Both worked well.

        I felt that perhaps the dish could use a stronger chili oil than my homemade. With a stronger oil, you could use less to get a chili effect. But my homemade is from regular old dried whole red chili (cayenne?), and then about 6 months old. I would have liked to reduce the chili oil by a teaspoon or two, so the noodles would be less slippery. But I'd want a slightly stronger chili oil maybe to do that. Not super strong, though. I've only made chili oil a couple of times, so it could just be that I don't heat the oil enough.

        1. re: saltwater

          saltwater--funny that your dan dan noodles were too slippery and mine weren't slippery enough. It seems, perhaps, that the optimal quantity in oil would be somewhere between what I used and what you used/what the recipe calls for. I'm glad you've had good luck with linguine--it makes me think that using my whole wheat pasta won't be too problematic.

          I agree that the tianjin could be chopped smaller and I will try to SOAK it not just RINSE it next time...

          ~TDQ

          1. re: The Dairy Queen

            Share how it goes if you get the chance. :-) I've found it difficult to place whole wheat pasta with things. Though, I've made fresh pasta from half white and half wheat and liked it well with piccata.

        2. re: The Dairy Queen

          Couldn't help noticing your bold lettered sentence: ...YOU MUST REMEMBER TO RINSE THE TIANJIN (AND SQUEEZE IT DRY) BEFORE YOU USE IT...

          I'm not sure how it's stated in the cookbook, but Tianjin is the name of a city in Northern China. Yes, the preserved vegetable is usually named Tianjin preserved vegetable, but...please don't squeeze the Tianjin! :) Squeeze the veggie. In general, if you see that there is particles of salt on those dried or semi-dried preserved veggies, or even on some of those dried pickled radishes, you'd be safer rinsing it first to wash out dirt or little rocks, chopping it into small bits, and then RINSE IT AGAIN, and then wring dry. I'm thinking of the Mei Gan veggies where some particular brands are really sandy, and you don't want those griddy stuff after all the hard work that went into, say, Mei2 Gan1 Kou4 Rou4 (braised pork belly with preserved vegetable)!

          1. re: HLing

            Ah, I wish I'd read your post before I tried the green bean dish again, which I will post about in the bean curd and vegetable thread. I did, indeed, rinse and wring dry the preserved vegetable (not the city) and chopped it into small bits. I did not, however, RINSE IT AGAIN.

            But, that's a good tip for next time, HLing, thank you!

            ~TDQ

          2. re: The Dairy Queen

            Ok , it's four years past this original post and I tried Dan Dan noodles for the first time. Searching for the necessary ingredients was a task in itself. Nearby Foster City has a large Asian population along with grocery stores. For the second time this month I approached clerks in Ranch 99 for help with ingredients. And a lady in line also helped. The clerks informed me that preserved vegetables are usually made at home - and usually consist of cucumbers, cabbage or carrots. The lady in front of me in line actually makes Dan Dan noodles for her family, on occasion. She advised me to just use fresh veggies - as these 'taste better'.
            So, I took her advice. Made these noodles according to the recipe, but subbed thinly sliced Persian cucumbers for the preserved veggies. End result was quite tasty - and probably would have been too salty if I had used preserved veggies ( had I ever found them!!).
            Anyhow, there are plenty of leftovers. And it was tasty. Next time, will try soy or turkey instead of pork. The lady in front of me recommended light brown tofu with a soft texture, but thus far, I lack the 'gumption' to go back and wade thru myriad products to find this.
            However, I suspect it was good advice, so will report back when I try this with tofu.
            I relied on the kindness of strangers and was rewarded... With such a tasty dish.

            1. re: Blythe spirit

              How strange. I'm from Hong Kong and we always have store-bought preserved vegetables. I think cucumbers and carrots are usually lightly pickled so it's easy to do at home. But I have no idea how to do the Tianjian that's called for, for example. The chinese supermarket here has a whole wall of preserved vegetable as well. I'm wondering if the asians at ranch 99 aren't chinese, or are they all Women's Institute type.

              But I'm glad you get good result from the noodle.

              1. re: lilham

                There seemed to be a brief description of how to do the Tianjin at the beginning of LOP, but the directions seemed vague to me. And since I'm not familiar with how the outcome should taste, am a bit reluctant to attempt. You are correct that our local Asian population is not mostly Chinese. The noodle section alone had Thai, Japanese, Vietnamese and Philipino choices. The good news is, each time I make another recipe, the ingredients become more familiar.

              2. re: Blythe spirit

                Glad you liked the results!

                Living on the east coast Ranch 99 is unfamiliar territory to me. But something that can help in the search for unfamiliar ingredients is having the name of the ingredient in Chinese characters. FD's appendices in both LOP & RCC are really helpful for this, and perhaps worth photo copying to take along with you on your forays into Chinese groceries.

                1. re: qianning

                  Thanks Lilham and Quianning :-)That's a great idea to bring the book.I came armed with the supposedly correct pronunciation (ya cai) ... and bless those poor clerks for listening patiently as I repeated it several times to blank stares. There was some recognition finally (despite my lack of familiarity with Chinese). They did know what I was asking about (after a while) but this store did not carry the product. And they informed me that these pickles are usually just made very simply at home.
                  There were many jars of (to me) mysterious and unfamiliar looking vegetables on the shelves but none looked quite right. I need to ask one of my Chinese friends to come with me next time to help me pick out the best tasting tofu and quality noodles. The ones I made for the Dan Dan noodles were already cooked and ready to stir fry - and slightly gummy to my taste. Perhaps I'll be brave enough to try making my own tofu one of these days.

                  1. re: Blythe spirit

                    Have you got the new Dunlop book, Every Grain of Rice? There are even pictures of what the items 'should' look like, in addition to the names. Some of the pictures are the items inside the jars and bottles, for example, chillies, black beans. The ones of bottles and jars will probably be less useful in the US. But she's using the same brands as me for almost everything! (I'm in the UK).

                    And Qianning is definitely right about bringing the book. The pronounciation might not be most helpful if they aren't mandarin speakers. A lot of overseas communities are cantonese, for example. And I struggle to place even romanised cantonese to the written characters because they just don't sound anything alike sometimes. But the written chinese names are almost the same across regions, and most shop keepers do know the alternative names too. (For example, soy sauce has a different name in Taiwan than in HK. Not sure what the mainland chinese call it).

                    1. re: lilham

                      Having a picture glossary sounds very helpful! I've just begun to explore LOP, but have been very close to buying Every Grain of Rice. It's always easier to justify yet another cookbook purchase if someone else tells me I *need* it :-).
                      Even with all the language differences, it sounds like this resource would be very useful. Off to Amazon....

                2. re: Blythe spirit

                  I'm in Southern California, but my local 99 Ranch definitely carries Tianjin preserved vegetables. In case it's helpful, here are a couple pics of the brand I bought there...I've also seen it in other, smaller Asian grocery stores, so seems pretty widely available once you figure out what you're looking for -- that was the hard part for me. I haven't used it a lot, but I have made the Dan Dan noodles and I think the effect would be significantly different with fresh vegetables.

                   
                   
                  1. re: mebby

                    Mebby, thank you so much for the photos. Without a picture , finding these ingredients seems a bit like searching for a needle in a haystack :-)
                    I will take a closer look at the Ranch 99 in Mountain View next time I'm there - they have a larger Chinese population and might carry it. Looking forward to tasting the flavor.

                    1. re: Blythe spirit

                      I'm pretty sure Mountain View carries it, though they don't seem to have a wide variety of preserved vegetables. Dunlop's newest book references about 4 kinds -- I did find a huge selection of them at Marina Food in Cupertino.

                      What I can't figure out is why every Chinese market I visit carries exactly one type (and one brand) of dried red chile... and no Facing Heaven Chiles.

                      1. re: emily

                        Thanks Emily. There is a Marina Foods in Foster City but I stopped going there because they never seemed to have what was needed - so have to go back and give them a second chance.
                        I know what you mean about the chilis... All the Asian markets near me just have Mexican chilis - suppose that's because they're local. I wonder if there is a significant enough taste difference between the Asian and Mexican varieties.I suspect that the Mexican chilis may be hotter because I had to cut the amount by about half when doing the Kung pao chicken.

                      2. re: Blythe spirit

                        Yeah, I stared at that shelf for an eternity before I found it way down on the bottom shelf...somehow wasn't envisioning that little brown crock. Good luck and look forward to hearing what you think about the difference in Dan Dan Mien with these vs. fresh.

                        1. re: mebby

                          I don't know about Mexican chillies as I have to mail order those here. But my local Chinese market has Thai red and facing heaven. Thai red is significantly hotter. Facing heaven is fairly mild and I can use the full amount specified in the recipes. I don't very hot myself.

                          1. re: lilham

                            Where are you getting the facing heaven chillies from, lilham? You're in London, right?

                            1. re: greedygirl

                              I'm in Hampshire. The chillies didn't say facing heaven on the bag. But they look exactly like the fat ones n the glossary in Every Grain of Rice, and also what I found on the web. I just assume they are facing heavens!

                    2. re: Blythe spirit

                      I'm sorry, blythe spirit, that I didn't see this of yours from so long ago, but I just came into this thread to see what substitutions people have used for the tianjin preserved vegetable and am thrilled by the persian cucumbers recommendation!

                      I notice there is also a pickled vegetables recipe on page 71 on LOP that I might try. I'm not sure if anyone has reported on that yet...not sure where to find it if they did.

                      F.D. says that the method used for the tian jin preserved vegetables is similar to that used for kim chee. Has anyone tried using rinsed and chopped kim chee in lieu of tianjin preserved vegetable in the dandan noodles or dry fried beans?

                      ~TDQ

                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                        Hi Dairy Queen :)
                        It's been a while since I've had time to cook - and since I've cooked from Dunlop! But I remember that the cucumbers were a fresh, crisp (and unsalty!) complement to the Dan Dan noodles.

                  2. Noodles with Fresh Shrimp and Baby Greens (Hunan, p. 269)

                    This was my favorite of the three items I made today, and really is a meal unto itself. Several thoughts:

                    1. The shrimp - my shrimp stuck to my pan, and I think I'm going to get a wok next weekend. Some of them did end up with a little "coating", but once the shrimp were added to the broth, it kind of disappeared. So, for those who are being calorie conscious (sp?), I think you could either steam the shrimp, or saute them quickly in a little oil, rather than in the cup of peanut oil with the coating, without losing much flavor.

                    2. The bok choy - I bought baby bok choy, and decided to par boil it per the general noodle soup directions earlier on. She doesn't say anything about cutting them up, so I decided to quarter them.

                    3. The broth/stock for the shrimp and for the noodles - I'd not made any yet, but "scored" when I realized that I had lovely pork flavored water from steaming bacon for another recipe. Added some water to that, some chicken Better than Bouillion, scallions and sliced ginger - simmered for 45 minutes - it was a lovely broth.

                    The chinkiang vinegar added a wonderful depth for the dish, but if you can't get it, I'd suggested just the tiniest bit of sherry vinegar, or even a little white wine or sherry.

                    Looking forward to having this for lunch tomorrow.

                     
                     
                    11 Replies
                    1. re: MMRuth

                      Ohhhh--another gorgeous dish, MMRuth! Shrimp is very weight watchers friendly, so, I always keep bags of them in our freezer for quick meals. It looks like we'll have to put this recipe into our rotation.

                      ~TDQ

                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                        I just realized this morning, by the way, that I put in Chinese cooking wine at the end, not vinegar! No wonder I thought sherry would be a good substitute. Too many bottles of new things on my counter!

                      2. re: MMRuth

                        This looks luscious. The bok choy perfectly bright and the shrimp plump and juicy. Nice job! So craving this. Were there noodles?

                        1. re: chef chicklet

                          There were - you can't see them as much as in Dunlop's photos. I used a flat rice noodle that I found at the Chinese market in the fridge section - no idea if authentic or not - had stocked up on a couple of kinds of noodles from there, and those looked most like those in the photo!

                          1. re: MMRuth

                            I see you are and DQ are really enjoying this cookbook. I don't really know anything about this author. I have so many Asian Cookbooks, what about this particular one is it that you're enjoying?

                            You must get a wok, if space is a challenge, they make a small version in carbon steel and they really do a fine job.

                            I am really enjoying your photos!!! (as always!)

                            I'll need to check this book out...

                            1. re: chef chicklet

                              I've not cooked much from Asian cookbooks, other than HSSS, so a lot of it is the challenge of working with unfamiliar ingredients etc.

                              1. re: chef chicklet

                                Most of my Asian cooking experience is with Thai food, so I can't really compare to other similar cookbooks either, though, I would say the challenge of hunting down the ingredients for the Dunlop books is about the same as for when I need to hunt down Thai ingredients.

                                The fantastic thing, though, with cooking out of these two books for the entire month, is that once you make 1-2 of these recipes, you've pretty much got all of the essential "specialty" ingredients to make many of the other recipes. Your Dark Soy Sauce, Shiaxing (sorry, spelling from memory here...) Wine, peanut oil, fermented beans, etc. You've got 'em, might as well use 'em!

                                The primary driver for me is I've been on this diet (weight watchers core plan) for about four months now and I really, really miss my favorite Sichuan restaurant, so, this is giving me an opportunity to experience some of those flavors and foods in a setting where I can control the ingredients, mostly the fat content.

                                And the other thing is that I never do anything half-way, and this is my first COTM, so I have a lot of pent-up enthusiasm. I've been wanting to do COTM for awhile but for one reason or another, none of the cookbooks seemed right for me, particularly over the past four months (since starting my diet). Prior to that, I was really focused on cooking specifically with the overwhelming amount of produce that came with my CSA...which never seemed a good fit with any of the COTM choices at the time because I didn't need 1 or 2 recipes for dealing with cucumbers--I needed MANY such recipes... And for tomatoes... And for carrots... etc. ~TDQ

                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                  Yes I know what you mean, not doing the core, but the points.
                                  I do okay with Asian, Thai, Filipino..... I know what you mean about learning one or two, and then taking off.

                                  You can certainly tell you're enjoying this month's cookbook!
                                  Keep up the good work!

                                2. re: chef chicklet

                                  chef chicklet, Dunlop is special for two reasons.

                                  She studied Chinese at college in the UK (Oxford and the London School of Oriental and African Studies) then went on for further study at Sichuan University in 1994. While there she discovered the Sichuan Institute of Higher Cuisine and managed to talk her way into studying there. This resulted in her first cookbook, "Land of Plenty."

                                  The woman knows China: its people, the language, the culture and cuisine. Her 2nd cookbook, RCC is the direct result of her hanging around Hunan for a good spell.

                            2. re: MMRuth

                              I made this dish--Noodles with Fresh Shrimp and Baby Greens from pg 269 of Revolutionary Chinese, except that I used frozen shrimp (instead of fresh), stock from a box that I'd simmered with scallions and ginger (instead of every day stock), 1/2 tsp of sesame oil, (instead of 1 tsp), and 7.5 tsp of canola oil (instead of 1 cup of peanut oil for deep frying.) Dunlop gives you the option of using salted chiles or fresh--I opted for fresh, and I don't have any Chinkiang vinegar (optional for seasoning at the table), so we skipped that, though I did try a dash of black rice vinegar near the end of my bowl to see if I liked it (wasn't especially helpful, but I was awfully conservative in adding it.) I followed the "Soup noodles" instructions from pp 260-261 of RC--except that I did not add the dash of peanut oil, I used stock from a box that I'd simmered with scallions and ginger (instead of every day stock), and I used soba noodles.

                              My problem was that I ended up with quite a bit of eggs whites stirred in with my shrimp (I think you can see it in the photo), which was unappealing to look at but didn't seem to be a factor in taste, really. I don't know if it's because I used too little oil or didn't drain off enough of the egg mixture or what.

                              Anyway, this is pretty healthy dish, especially with the oil cut down, and would be glorious with homemade stock. Takes off the chill of a cold evening.

                              ~TDQ

                               
                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                TDQ, your noodles look glorious and very pro. I also made a noodle/soupish dish last night and wrote about it. I did a lot of cheating.

                            3. Steamed Pork and Pumpkin Dumplings (LOP p. 110)

                              I had some leftover kabocha squash so I decided to give these a shot. Bought the dumpling wrappers and a fatty ground pork in Chinatown and prepared the dumplings as directed. She doesn’t mention it in the recipe, but the only way I could get a seal on the dumpling wrappers was to wet the edges of the wrapper with water before filling and sealing them. Her description of how to seal them wasn’t exactly clear to me. She just says to seal with “a series of pinches.” I’m not sure just what that meant, and there’s no picture of these in the book, so I just went ahead and made tucks on one side of the wrapper—more or less as she describes for the Crescent Dumplings on page 100.

                              I didn’t realize until I was well into making the dumplings that she neither recommends nor gives a recipe for any kind of dipping sauce. I can’t imagine that the intention is to just eat them plain without anything. But the only sauce mentioned in the whole section on dumplings is a sweet sauce to accompany the Crescent Dumplings. I didn’t think that would work for these so I made a dipping sauce recipe from another Sichuan cookbook that I’ve made before for homemade spring rolls. That’s the sauce you’ll see in the photo. Bad decision. I ended up just dipping them in light soy sauce. But I wish she’d at least addressed the issue.

                              The filling was very, very tasty. Although I’m guessing the recipe was developed with our low-fat pork in mind, because with the fatty ground pork I was able to buy in Chinatown there was far more fat/oil in the dish than necessary. If I were to do it again I’d either use lean pork or cut way back on the amount of peanut oil in the recipe.

                              I really liked the filling. The pork with pumpkin was a surprisingly flavorful combination. But the dumpling wrappers weren’t the light, ethereal, almost not-there wrappers I’ve had in better Asian restaurants. They were a bit heavy and, particularly where the edge was pleated, rather unpleasantly chewy. Any dumplings makers here who can help me out? Was it the purchased wrappers? Did I not steam them long enough? I used to have Chinese steamer baskets but didn’t use them much so got rid of them for space reasons; I used one of those steamer inserts in an 8-quart pasta/stock pot; could it be they were too far from the steam?

                              The recipe says it makes 25 to 30 dumplings with a teaspoon of filling in each dumpling. I used a quite rounded teaspoon of filling in each and ended up with 31 dumplings. I steamed about 8 and froze the rest, so I’d appreciate any advice anyone can give me on how to cook these frozen dumplings (do I just steam them from frozen adding a bit more time?) and if there’s anything I can do, like steaming them longer than called for, to make the wrappings more tender.

                               
                               
                              32 Replies
                              1. re: JoanN

                                Wow, those turned out beautiful! I agree that a recommendation about a dipping sauce would have been helpful. Hopefully, someone else can recommend one! Sorry I can't help with any of your questions...

                                ~TDQ

                                1. re: JoanN

                                  JoanN -- I'm so glad you shared your results on a dumpling recipe. One of the recipes I really want to try this month is for the Spicy Steamed Pork Buns from Revolutionary Chinese (p. 72). Interestingly, after reading the recipe, I had exactly the same concerns that you expressed -- i.e. I would really have liked to see a graphic of how to stuff and seal the dumplings, and I also wondered about a dipping sauce. There isn't one in the index, nor is there one listed under any of the dumpling/spring roll recipes in the book. I'd love to hear from others if they have an actual recipe for a dipping sauce for dumplings!

                                  My college roommate, who was from Taiwan, used to make a dipping sauce that involved soy sauce, rice vinegar (regular, not seasoned), chopped garlic, chopped ginger, and a few drops of sesame oil and/or hot pepper oil, which is what I do now when I want a dipping sauce. I don't have a recipe with exact proportions of soy sauce to vinegar, though, I just make it to taste.

                                  When I get around to trying the dumpling recipe, I think I'm going to use my Irene Kuo book (The Key to Chinese Cooking) as a reference on the dumpling making process, as her book has a visual aid :-)

                                  1. re: DanaB

                                    Actually, those are almost exactly the ingredients I used for the dipping sauce--all except the ginger. But it was a little too strong for these dumplings, which were rather subtle in flavor. Also, because I was in a big hurry, I dumped all of the ingredients into my mini-processor and just let 'er rip, so the texture of the sauce was thicker than it should have been.

                                    I'll be waiting to hear how yours turn out. I'm still not sure what to do with my frozen ones. There must be a bunch of dumpling makers on this board, but they may just not be following COTM. Maybe I'll post a separate message.

                                    1. re: JoanN

                                      My mom always just made a very very simple dipping sauce out of soy sauce and sesame oil. There weren't food processors back then .. she just floated a bit of oil on top of the small, shallow dish of soy sauce. My dad always liked to have some Chinese hot sauce (not as hot as sriracha -- it was a Hong Kong brand: Koon Yik Wah Kee) for dipping too.

                                    2. re: DanaB

                                      DanaB: You say you want to try the Spicy Steamed Pork Buns from Rev.Chinese but then talk about them as if they're dumplings. I thought that buns were spongy, bready things and not dumplings. Actually, I'm too lazy to go to the other end of the house to check out the recipe. ;+)

                                      Plz clarify for my small-capacity brain.

                                      1. re: oakjoan

                                        The ones I want to make are buns (i.e. bao), not "dumplings" per se, but I always thought of the latter as including the former. Maybe I should have stuck with Irene Kuo's more generic term, "Dough Stuffs," from her book The Key To Chinese Cooking, which includes both buns and dumplings :-)

                                    3. re: JoanN

                                      Re: the dipping sauce, I was reading through the book last night, and she does mention one for the crescent dumplings - "soy sauce, vinegar, and perhaps a little sesame oil or chili oil", and then a more traditional Sichuanese dipping sauce that she gives a recipe for on p. 102 using aromatic soy sauce (recipe on p. 76). Maybe this can be used for other dumplings?

                                      (Edited to add, as DanaB pointed out below, this is from Land of Plenty)

                                      1. re: Rubee

                                        Is this from Land of Plenty? Right now, I've only got Revolutionary Chinese -- am waiting on the other from the library. In any event, from my college roomate, I understand that the soy sauce/vinegar base is pretty common for dipping, and the other additions -- garlic, ginger, scallion, sesame oil, hot pepper oil, are all to taste.

                                        Re. JoanN's comment, I've never seen the dipping sauce pureed -- I would think the ginger and/or garlic might end up have a strong flavor if you did it that way. I usually just float the chopped garlic/ginger in the sauce and it imparts only a light flavor to it.

                                        I would have started cooking out of the books this weekend, but a friend with a baby decided to drop in from out of town and we are having an impromptu dinner party tonight where there are going to be 5 children under the age of two, one 9 year old and about 10 adults. I decided that experimenting with unfamiliar recipes for a crowd like that wouldn't be the best idea and so am making chili instead. Next weekend, though, I'm going to tackle those dumplings :-)

                                        1. re: DanaB

                                          Dumplings are great for kids because they can participate in the making. We like to have a new years party for dumpling making and we teach all the kids how to fold the dumplings. Some of them get very good at it.

                                        2. re: Rubee

                                          Yes, I had seen the one for crescent dumplings but thought it sounded too sweet. I had, however, completely forgotten about the one on page 76. I'll definitely make up a batch before attempting whatever it is I end up attempting with the dumplings now in the freezer. Thanks for the heads up. I only wish Dunlop had crossed referenced that somewhere in the recipe.

                                        3. re: JoanN

                                          Here are a few videos that show stuffing and folding -

                                          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9UMiv...

                                          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FRJl7...

                                          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F6AsQB...

                                          Lining the steamer tray with cheesecloth or cabbage leaves will keep the dumplings from sticking to the tray.

                                          There are a lot of types of commercial "skins". Try to find a thinner one for your next go round. The packages sometimes have both a weight and count on them. For a package with the same weight, a higher count indicates thinner skins.

                                          1. re: hannaone

                                            Fantastic, hannaone! Those videos are just outstanding. I keep forgetting that youtube is available for information such as this. And checking the weight of the package is a great idea as well. It would never have occurred to me. Now I'm ready to try again.

                                            1. re: hannaone

                                              hannaone, I just put a circle of baking parchment on the bottom of my bamboo steamer baskets, and nothing sticks! For steamed buns, I sometimes cut small squares of parchment and set each bun on one, then into the steamer. With buns, it's convenient to have the parchment when serving. The platter doesn't get as messy!

                                            2. re: JoanN

                                              JoanN, your pictures look great!
                                              I did notice the skin looked a little dry in the edges: It could be a number of things:
                                              1) try to get the Chinese wonton skin (white, not yellow) and not the Hong Kongese wonton skin. That is, if you want the "light, ethereal" kind. Actually, it's kind of hard to categorize them by country, but the yellow ones are a little tougher, more leathery in general. They're not as porous to soak up the moisture from the steam. If you get Chinese dumpling skin (round, white) be sure you don't accidentally get the thicker kind. Look for the thinner ones. Whatever you do, don't get frozen ones.

                                              2) with whichever kind of skin you get, you pretty much have to keep a moistened towel over the skin to be used, AND over the dumplings you've already wrapped and waiting for steaming. If it dries up in either stages you're going to get the hard edge.

                                              3) If you make the dumpling skin from scratch, you don't need to moisten the ends before sealing. It's a lot of work, but totally worth it to make fresh skin from scratch.

                                              As for dipping sauce, for me it's usually just good black fragrant vinegar (no soy sauce) or go the way of the chili oil as in the "Hong You Chao Shou", a picture here from another post on Chowhound. http://eatingchinese.org/galleries/si...

                                              As for the frozen ones that you have left over, I wonder if you might want to make dumpling soup? It might help in restoring a little moisture, but it's still going to be a little harden.

                                              Hope something in here helped....

                                              *This post reminds me, at least for those of us in NYC, that there's an All Clad wok for $80 at the Marshall's in Queen's on Northern Blvd, as of last Wednesday, still left over from the week before that...scratches, but perfectly fine.

                                              1. re: HLing

                                                Thank you so much, HLing. That's all very helpful. And I think I may finally have been encouraged to try to make my own wrappers. I figure if it's total loss, it won't be the first time.

                                                And I love the idea of black vinegar as a dipping sauce. I'm one of those who prefer my french fries with vinegar so I'll bet that would be perfect for me--and I wouldn't have thought of it.

                                                1. re: JoanN

                                                  You're welcome, JoanN! That was such a fast reply..I was going to add that in a pinch I'd still rather use a good balsamic vinegar then soy sauce. Ideally you can pick up a Chinese black vinegar for less money than the balsamic, but recently I've not been able to find my trusted brand of the Chinese kind. Or, I should say, there seems to be some imitation brands that don't taste as good as who they're trying to imitate. So i just reach for the San Giuliano 10 yr. old Balsamic.

                                                  Good luck on making the dumpling skin. It may be difficult at first, but it's a skill worth acquiring. Someone mentioned a Youtube video of a chef making the dumpling and cooking it at the same time, wrapping it with one hand, throwing it onto the wall that bounces off and into the boiling water...I've yet to find it. :)

                                                  1. re: HLing

                                                    With regard to making my own wrappers, I think I, rather than the dumpling, might be what's bouncing off the wall. ;-)

                                                    I have Gold Plum brand Chinkiang Vinegar. What is your trusted brand?

                                                    1. re: JoanN

                                                      JoanN, Gold Plum is great, especially their Premium Grade, 3-Year Matured Chinkiang!

                                                    2. re: HLing

                                                      What an interesting substitute, HLing. Being of Italian heritage I can certainly appreciate the difference between good balsamic and good soy sauce. This is a substitute I'm going to consider ASAP. Many thanks!

                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                        JoanN and ScoopG, somehow my brain didn't see your replies..yes, I enjoyed the Gold Plum brand of Chinkiang Vinegar until the very last drop, and then when i bought what I thought was the same, it turned out to be an almost identical label, fonts and all, but is another company that's named Golden Mountain (in Chinese), it still says Chinkiang (by the way, that's the name of a place in China that produces good vinegar), but it didn't taste as good. Hate when that happens! I'll have to look carefully next time for Golden Plum brand.

                                                        Gio, as I thought about Marco Polo and China, and noodles and pasta...hmmm, good black vinegar and good balsamic don't seem that exclusive to nationalities any more.

                                                      2. re: HLing

                                                        I have Gold Plum Brand Chinkiang Vinegar which has a good flavor but found the Baoning Vinegar (locally in Southern California) recommended by Ms. Dunlop and it's wonderful!

                                                        http://www.scmp.gov.cn/baoningcu/chan...

                                                  2. re: JoanN

                                                    I don't often see Chinese people in Sichuan eating steamed dumplings with sauces. They are usually eaten with pao cai (pickles) or plain, and the fillings have enough flavour. That said, I do sometimes use mustard (plain ballpark style) or a mix of soy and black vinegar.

                                                    1. re: pepper_mil

                                                      Very interesting. Do they eat them with pickles at home, as street food, or both? Although my filling was certainly flavorful, it was rather subtle and I would have thought a pickle accompaniment would have overwhelmed it.

                                                      1. re: JoanN

                                                        What I see is the street food, and from asking people. The pao cai is even eaten with all kinds of plain things, even plain steamed bread. I love it with vegetable dumplings, which have not much more than cabbage and mushrooms inside.

                                                    2. re: JoanN

                                                      Coming quite late to the discussion but anyway. Not sure what you mean by "better Asian restaurants." The thing about dumpling skin is that different parts of China use different thickness of skin. So Northern style dumplings have a thicker meatier skin than what you might find on a dumpling off a Guangzhou dim sum cart. And in many places, Chewy is a good thing, not a bad thing.

                                                      I have used both purchased skins and made them myself. For our family, purchased skins typically are a bit too thin and insubstantial. When I take the time to make them, the skins are more like what we get in dumpling restaurants in Beijing and the like. If you have access to an Asian grocery store, you should find multiple types of dumpling skins. Check labels---some brands actually have skins that are thicker or thinner--I can tell by looking at the side of the package.

                                                      I have limited experience in steaming frozen dumplings but LOTS of experience in boiling them. Bring pot with lots of water and space to a boil, like you would for any pasta. Add a bit of salt if you like. When water is boiling, drop requisite number of frozen dumplings in one at a time, stirring as you do it to make sure they don't stick to the bottom. Allow water to return to a boil. Add a cup of cool water. Return to a boil again. When water is on 2d boil and all dumplings are floating, check one dumpling to see if you like it. If needs more cooking, repeat with cool water and bring to a boil again. Drain.

                                                      I suspect that no dipping sauce was included because she is just so used to eatting Chinese, it would never cross her mind that someone would need a receipe. Most restaurants don't seem to give you a prepared sauce--you just od it yourself on the plate. So the standard dipping sauce in restaurants with dumplings is soy sauce, white vinegar, black vinegar, chili sauce and white pepper. Blend some or all to your own satisfaction. I like white vinegar with white pepper. My daughter favors soy with chili, my husband black vinegar with chili and our oldest pup just scarfs them down plain.

                                                      That said, I think I need to go and find a squash so I can make some of these dumplings. They sound very very yummy.

                                                      1. re: jenn

                                                        Truly an instance of better late than never. Thanks very much, jenn. Perhaps I'll look at my dumpling skins in a new way now.

                                                        I live in Manhattan and have been to at least 8 or 9 different shops, but they all seem to sell the same brands of dumpling skins. I've seen surprising little variety from shop to shop. It looks as though one manufacturer pretty much has the market sewed up. There was a time, many years ago, when I was doing a lot of Chinese cooking and I recall (at least I think I do) a much larger variety of skins being available. But I could be wrong about that.

                                                        I'm with your husband: black vinegar with chili. But what you say makes a great deal of sense. I wish the author had given us that information.

                                                        And do try the dumplings. (I still have a few left in the freezer and will definitely try your method of cooking them.) I thought they were terrific and I'll be eager to hear whether or not you agree.

                                                        1. re: JoanN

                                                          My eldest pup is a dumpling fanatic. I'm betting I can get him to help me with the recipe. All I need is a bit of time.

                                                          We are on the west coast and our favorite source for asian ingrediants is Ranch 99 which is a big grocery chain. Their supply of dumpling skins seems to vary. Sometimes, they have lots of round ones but other times, the pickings are quite slim. I think the Dynasty brand has thick and thin skins and even marks them accordingly. But avoid those marked as "gyoza" skins---way way way too thin.

                                                      2. re: JoanN

                                                        In the event anyone who made these dumplings four years ago is around this afternoon...do you think I could make these with pumpkin puree instead of pumpkin chunks? I have some in my freezer that I roasted and pureed from last fall's crop. Or is the chunkiness important?

                                                        1. re: Aravisea

                                                          Yes, I think the pureed pumpkin would work. First, in the recipe the pumpkin is finely chopped so it's not as though there were big chunks in there anyway. Also, there's only about a teaspoon of filling in each dumpling and at least half a teaspoon of that filling is the ground pork. So, no, I don't think the chunkiness is important. You should be just fine with your pureed pumpkin.

                                                          1. re: JoanN

                                                            Ok, great - I will plow ahead with puree and post a report afterwards. Much obliged JoanN!

                                                      3. I decided to try the Stir Fried Rice Noodles with Chicken Slivers (RC p 270), even though my chopped salted chiles won't be ready for 2 weeks. I used sambal oelek instead. Also, I used boneless thigh instead of breast on account of the preferences of the eaters. The directions have you soak ho fun noodles and drain them. This part was fine. Then it has you heat up several T of oil and fry them, then remove them to a plate to add back in later. Dunlop did not mention this, but when I added the noodles to the oil and stirred them up once, they rapidly began to congeal/fuse into a rubber mass. They were not going to come apart. I tried tongs and pulling them, etc. So, I moved on with the recipe. When I added the noodles back to the pan, there was a slight bit of liquid and soy sauce, and I could see that where the liquid was, the noodles immediately started to separate. But there wasn't enough liquid to go around. I grabbed some water and started adding it to the globbed up parts in the pan. I got most of it separated before I felt the chicken was done and I had to pull it off the heat.

                                                        Was this supposed to happen? The noodles that I managed to get unstuck did come out cooked with a nice chew to them. Some globs remained, though. I've made Pad Thai before, but in that you have plenty of sauce with the noodles, and you don't just dump them plain into a bit of oil. Pad Thai works out fine, but are the two comparable? This does not have much sauce in it. I could have used the mushroom soaking liquid or more wine perhaps, but I didn't think of those while frantically trying to deal with the globs of noodles. Maybe I could add liquid to the noodles while they are sitting out on the plate before I add them back into the food, or add liquid when I am doing the first stage of frying them?

                                                        I liked the flavors in the dish, but the darkness of the chicken I used seemed especially prominent. It told me to use white pepper to taste, which I found unenlightening. I just used a pinch per person, since I find white pepper to be a strong flavor. I wonder if white pepper and dark meat reinforce each other?

                                                        I didn't take a picture. I try to eat noodle dishes like this pronto, and I am slow with a camera.

                                                        5 Replies
                                                        1. re: saltwater

                                                          I'm planning on making this dish tonight, and wonder if any one has suggestions for the noodle clumping problem that saltwater had?

                                                          Thanks!

                                                          1. re: MMRuth

                                                            MM - I wonder if the information on the site I reference below might help you.....
                                                            It is the preparation for a Penang recipe but Ho Fun noodles are used.

                                                            http://www.malaysianfood.net/recipes/...

                                                            1. re: MMRuth

                                                              I've since made the dish many times, and it really does seem that when there is no liquid in the pan, then the noodles soon begin to clump. I take this as a good sign, that they are ready to be removed. :-) My husband and I like the texture best if I don't let them become fully clumped. It helps if I don't start the pan blazingly hot. Then they cook more evenly, since they cook a little slower. I've never tried using more oil. I find there is enough oil already, and it doesn't want more. Oh, perhaps it is the size noodle I use...my husband likes the "medium" kind.

                                                              I set them aside in a nice clump, and when I add them to the whole dish, I use some shitake soaking liquid to separate them, right after I add the soy sauce the Dunlop requests. They come apart well with some vigorous prodding, then.

                                                              For all my initial troubles with the noodles, this has ended up being the dish I've remade the most from Dunlop. I've found it easy to use as a base to change around to my liking. I often use finely julienned carrots (use mandoline) instead of bean sprouts. If very thin, they cook fine if thrown in near the end.

                                                              I've had so much fun with the dish. I've managed to completely transform it into a pork and cabbage dish with rice instead of noodles! It is the only Chinese dish I have ever so successfully taken over as mine.

                                                            2. re: saltwater

                                                              Stir Fried Rice Noodles with Chicken Slivers (RC p 270)

                                                              I'm trying to clean out the pantry in preparation for a move this week and this recipe won the EYB roulette. I'm so happy I found this recipe because it hits all the right notes with a bit of heat from the chiles and the flavor from the mushrooms. I didn't check reviews before making it, so I was a little concerned about the noodles clumping in the beginning, but they cooked perfectly after being re-added to the wok. This is a great weeknight meal as it comes together very quickly after the initial soaking period. I can see variations on this dish making it into a regular rotation.

                                                              1. re: saltwater

                                                                Stir Fried Rice Noodles with Chicken Slivers, p. 270

                                                                I chose this recipe based on an EYB search for rice noodles (perfect heat wave food -- barely any cooking required!). This recipe was perfect as I also had cooked chicken breasts and shiitake mushrooms and green onions to use up. I changed the recipe around quite a bit, using fresh instead of dried shiitakes and sliced red pepper instead of bean sprouts. Also, previously cooked chicken instead of raw and olive oil instead of peanut oil (I'd run out of the latter). I had the same noodle clumping problem as saltwater so I wish I had read these posts! Nevertheless, this was a good dish, easy to riff on and a good vehicle for leftovers. My second recipe out of RCC and it won't be the last.

                                                              2. Sour and Hot Noodles (RCC, p. 266)

                                                                This is my second Hunanese soup noodle dish. Hadn't plan to make it, but we were in Chinatown again this morning (making spring rolls and the shrimp with chinese chive dish tonight - and bought a wok!), and bought some lovely largish bowls, as we really don't have anyones that are good for this kind of dish. So, of course I wanted to use them right away. I'd found the bamboo shoots and preserved mustard greens on this trip, and also picked up some ground pork, so this seemed the perfect choice.

                                                                I slivered and blanched the shoots, along with enough for the spring rolls for tonight. Used my saute pan, as didn't have time to season the wok, to stir fry the pork, shoots and mustard greens etc. One thing that perplexed me a bit - after you stir fry, you add 2 cups of everyday stock, and simmer for about 20 minutes. Now, I just noticed that it says to simmer partially covered, and I covered completely, but I still don't think all the liquid would evaporate. So, when the dish was done, I had lots of liquid, plus the broth and noodles, and wasn't sure if I was supposed to use that liquid - if that was instead of the broth in the main recipe, etc. Went ahead and put the broth and noodles in the bowls, added the pork etc. with a slotted spoon, then spooned in some of the liquid from that pan. Lots left and for leftovers I just tossed it all together.

                                                                Perfect dish for a cold blustry day in NYC.

                                                                 
                                                                 
                                                                 
                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: MMRuth

                                                                  This weekend I made the version with bok choy and mushrooms. I had just enough dried shitakes left, and used chopped bok choy, since I couldn't find any baby ones. Delicious, but no leftovers!

                                                                  Served it with the Chicken & Ginger - I ended up just adding that to the bowl as well.