It’s like xiaolongbao, but with a lemongrass twist!
What was it that flew up my ass to inspire me to make soup dumplings? Maybe because “xiaolongbao” (the traditional Chinese soup dumpling) is so delicious. My big idea was to make a lighter lemongrass soup version, but how exactly do you stuff soup into the dumplings? Once I found out you make a gelatin out of the broth, I was game. “OH, easy” I thought.
Cut to today, and I will have to tell you this isn’t exactly the world’s easiest recipe. For starters, plan on this recipe taking two days. You really need that jelly broth to set well, preferably overnight. Also, if you’re not lucky enough to have a good Asian grocery that sells fresh dumpling wrappers, you can make your own dough using this recipe. It’s basically just flour and water, but individually rolling out all those wrappers seems like a bit of a chore to me so I use store bought ones. I know, I know, the horror of store-bought, pre-made things. I used two different kinds of wrappers; pre-frozen “Hong Kong style” (which are the more yellow ones) and some regular ones that I found in the produce refrigerated section of the H Mart. The latter was much softer and pliable, and much better tasting.
While not difficult, this recipe is time consuming but mine yielded about a gazillion dumplings plus extra filling that I steamed in a sauté pan and ate over rice as leftovers. That in and of itself was actually pretty good. At first my dumplings weren’t soupy at all, so I added more gelatin broth and that helped. Then they were really more juicy/stewy than soupy. Not really what I wanted, but still extra delicious. Then I realized I was steaming them too hot, causing a lot of the juice to steam out of the dumplings. DOH! So, if you’re using a regular vegetable steamer in a pan because you don’t have bamboo steamers, bring the water to a boil and then down to a simmer before steaming your dumplings so they don’t get too hot.
I think my biggest problem came in the folding process. It was difficult to get very much filling in the dumplings and folding them without too much of the filling spilling out over the top. Steamy Kitchen has some great photos on how to pleat and fold them.
I can honestly say I have the juiciest homemade dumplings on the block. I also probably have the only homemade dumplings on the block but I digress. This recipe makes a lot (make sure you buy at least 2 packages of dumpling wrappers), but they freeze incredibly well. To freeze, line them up on a baking sheet without touching and freeze. Once frozen you can toss them all in a plastic bag or tupperware and pull them out as you want to use them. Add 2 minutes when steaming frozen dumplings. If you don’t have a wok plus bamboo steamers, here are two other ways to steam dumplings (These are from a previous post – do not fold your soup dumplings into half moons because that will fail you.)
Lemongrass Soup Dumplings
- steam basket liner (either parchment paper, napa cabbage leaves, cucumber slices, or iceburg leaves)
For the Broth
- 6 cups chicken or other broth (in a box will work, homemade from bones is better)
- 2 stalks lemongrass (trimmed, bruised and cut into pieces that can fit in your pot)
- 1 " ginger (sliced)
- 2 tablespoons plain gelatin
- 1/2 cup cold water
For the dumplings
- 2 Packages dumpling wrappers (About 80-100 count)
- 1lb ground venison
- 1/2 " piece of ginger (skinned and minced or grated on a microplane)
- 1 stalk lemongrass (hard outer parts removed and minced, or 1 T of tubed lemongrass paste)
- 4 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 stalks green onion (minced)
- salt and pepper to taste (the soy sauce and wine are both salty, so salt with care)
For the dumplings (Optional)
- 2 tablespoons shaoxing rice wine (sake or mirin will work, leaving it out all together won't ruin the dish)
|For the broth
|Add your lemongrass and ginger slices to the broth and simmer for about 30-60 minutes. Take the broth off heat. Add the gelatin to the cold water and whisk well. Then add the cold water/gelatin mixture to the hot broth and stir and whisk well until it is completely dissolved. Refrigerate for at least four hours, overnight is better.
|For the dumplings
|Mix together all the dumpling ingredients except the wrappers. Add the jello-broth and mix well. Then add 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of the mixture to a dumpling wrapper (depending on the size of your wrappers), wet the edges of your wrapper with water, and bring them all up to the center in little pleats and pinch to seal. They will look like little purses.
|When ready to steam, place a piece of napa cabbage in the bottom of the dumpling steamer/vegetable steamer to prevent sticking. Bring your water to a gentle boil then add the dumplings, cover, and steam for 6-8 minutes for fresh dumplings, 2 minutes longer for frozen dumplings. Serve hot with soy sauce.
Non game substitution: Ground anything will work here, just pick your flavor! (Beef, pork, chicken, etc.)
Vegetarian Substitution: Substitute the meat with finely chopped mushrooms and you’re good to go! If you’re vegan, do pay attention to the dumpling wrapper ingredients. Pretty sure the Hong Kong style ones had egg in them but the other ones do not.