I'm using a bamboo steamer, and normally I steam using water, but what do you think about steaming the dumplings by simmering *broth* instead of water? A mix of sake, soy, ginger, water — or would that overflavor the skins?
Second question: with veggie dumplings, should I precook the filling before wrapping the dumplings, and if so, why? Thanks.
1. That's overkill and I doubt the broth you suggested would actually adhere to the skins....better to use the mixture as part of a dipping sauce.
2. That will depend on how fine you chop your vegetables or which type of mushrooms you would be using.....as well as what you would use to bind or add for filler,e.g. Vermicelli Noodles. The actual size of the dumplings would also come into play. Small dumplings, then cooking the vegetables are not as important....but larger dumplings would mean larger volume of water in the vegetables....so pre-cooking and squeezing out moisture would be a better idea. Last, it depends on what vegetables you will be using....e.g., spinach and cabbage have more water than other vegetable like bamboo shoots or water chestnuts.
1. Steam with water.
2. Depends on the veggie fillings. If it's pure vegetables, then no. But our veggie dumplings usu. have things like eggs, tofu, mushrooms, in which case we stir-fry first, then add the veggies (usu. Chinese chives or napa cabbage).
If you were cooking dumplings IN broth, they'd pick up flavor but I tend to doubt that in the fairly short time the dumplings are in a steamer they will pick up flavor. Most of that steam is water, not the other ingredients. That's why boiling liquids to reduce volume intensifies the flavor of the reduced liquid; what's gone is mostly water.
I would advise precooking vegetable fillings, to get rid of some of their water. The filling in the finished dumplings will have stronger flavor, and the dumplings will be less likely to leak or split open.
I always cook my fillings, which include rice noodles, tofu, shredded mushrooms and carrots, sprouts, ginger, and scallions.
Too bad the subject line does not specify the type of dumpling, with an adjective like 'Chinese'. Having just participated in a 'chicken and dumplings' thread, I was puzzled as to why someone would ask about 'homemade'. Should I have reasoned that the OP was asking about a kind that can also be bought, so therefore it must be something like these Asian ones?
You can tried flavored water, but I don't think it makes a difference since not all the flavor compounds boil off at 212 F.
Veggie dumplings - precook the filling? Depends upon the filling, but I would precook to "dry out" the filling. Veggies contain a lot of water. Water and dumpings usually don't go together.
If I remember correctly, my husband either salts, drains and squeezes the cabbage, or quickly blanches it and then squeezes it (for a lower salt version). Otherwise it lets off too much water as it cooks.
Steaming with a flavoured broth, I think, would actually have very little effect - the steam will still be mostly water, and in the length of time it takes to steam dumplings you wouldn't get much effect. I'd save it for the dipping sauce. If you were doing pot stickers, throwing in seasoned liquid rather than water would probably have a pretty strong effect.