It is cool and rainy here in Sydney and since I've been back home in Australia I have had huge cravings for Asian flavours. I can't seem to get enough of chilies, limes, fish sauce, and ginger just to name a few. One of my all time favorite things to eat, even as a kid as been dumplings. Whenever we went to a Chinese restaurant when I was a kid, I'd always order wonton soup- there is something comforting and nurturing about minced meat and herbs wrapped up in a soft wonton skin.
After zipping down to Eastwood, my neighbourhood shopping village where there is about 4-5 Asian grocers, butchers and seafood mongers I came home to make my dumpling soup.
Alex has been sick lately, catching every little bug this side of Sydney harbour- so a hearty chicken dumpling was my agenda. I needed to pound all my herbs and spices together so there we no flecks of green for the boys to pull out and say 'oh I don't like this....what is this?'
Before making my dumplings I popped on my stock. For this I used chicken Maryland's. They are a really cheap cut of chicken and when you buy from a Chinese butcher you get the whole bottom end of the chook, so more bone/flavour for my stock and a can also use the meat for a risotto or chicken pie later during the week.
When making lemongrass stock I always bash my stick of lemongrass with the back end of my biggest knife to tenderise it. The stick will become softer and much easier to tie in a knot- thus releasing more flavour then if you just chop it up. Something I learnt from an Indonesian friend of mine.
My Lemongrass chicken stock
3 Maryland chicken pieces, cut at the joint
1 lge stick of lemongrass, bashed and tied into a knot
1 head of garlic cut in half
5-8 black peppercorns
1 inch piece ginger, smashed
2 brown onions, quartered
2 carrots, roughly chopped
2 sticks celery, roughly chopped
3 lime leaves
Wash your chicken pieces in cold water then drain.
Fill a large stock pot with above ingredients, fill with cold water; about an inch over ingredients then put on to boil.
Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer. Skim top and cook for one hour.
Remove chicken pieces and continue cooking stock with 3 tablespoons fish sauce for a further 30 min.
Leave to steep for a further 20 minutes off the heat (this is when I make my dumplings)
OK for the dumplings:
300g chicken mince
1 tablespoon ginger, chopped (skin removed)
1 shoot spring onion chopped
2-3 whole black peppercorns
2 tablespoons mint leaves
1 tablespoon coriander (cilantro) leaves
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon lemon rind
Place all ingredients excluding chicken into a mortar and crush into a paste.
Place the paste into a medium bowl with the chicken and mix to combine.
Lay out your wonton skins and place a heaped tablespoon of mixture in the centre of each skin. Lift four corners up to the top of the mixture and squeeze together to close into a dumpling.
Note: you will need to wet the ends of your skins with water so they seal together.
This mixture makes approx 30 dumplings.
Once your dumplings are made, strain your stock through cheese cloth and a strainer, or if you don't have cheese cloth hanging about the house then use a clean chux.
You will be left with a beautiful amber broth. Place back on the heat and bring to a boil.
Once stock is boiling add dumplings and simmer for 5 minutes (at this stage I popped in some store bought fish balls because I love the texture with dumplings and these can be found at any Asian grocer fresh or frozen). Only add as many as you need. I used 6 per serve then froze the rest.
After 5 minutes remove dumplings to the side, drop your preferred fresh noodles into the stock to heat for 2-3 minutes ( I used an egg noodle). Add noodles to each serving bowl followed by the dumplings. Just before serving add Asian greens to your stock to blanch like boy choy, choy sum, sugar snap peas etc, they only need a minute. Once you have all your noodles, dumplings, fish balls (if using), and Asian greens in your bowl add some crunchy bean sprouts then pour over the lemongrass stock and serve.
I always add a good dollop of chilli sauce and then I am in dumpling heaven! I have even been known to drizzle a little soy sauce into the soup if it is lacking depth.
A seriously comforting and warming meal for anytime of the day and if you make your stock and dumplings before hand it is a 10 minute meal for a week night- this is AWESOME, especially if you have been at footy practice watching your 7 year old kick around the field while you stand in misty rain, in the dark wondering when it was going to be over!!