Vietnam cooking class @ 2014

Hue Rice Dumplings

Dumplings are humble and homey. They make people smile.

Filling
1/3 cup dried, hulled, and split yellow mung beans
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 shallot, chopped (1/4 cup total)
1/4 teaspoon salt

Dough
4 1/2 ounces (1 cup) regular rice flour
3 1/8 ounces (3/4 cup) tapioca starch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons canola oil
About 2/3 cup just-boiled water

1 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons light (regular) soy sauce
3 tablespoons water
1 or 2 Thai or Serrano chiles, thinly sliced
1/2 cup scallion oil garnish

DIRECTIONS:

1. Rinse the mung beans, put them in a bowl, and add water to cover by about 1 inch. Let soak for at least 2 hours. I usually soak them for 2 to 6 hours.

2. Drain and transfer the beans to a parchment paper lined steamer tray. Spread out the beans. Steam the beans over boiling water for 8 to 15 minutes (the shorter time is for the metal steamer and the longer time is for the bamboo steamer), or until the mung beans are tender. Remove the steamer tray and set aside to cool. Or, transfer the beans to a bowl and occasionally stir them to hasten the cooling.

Process the cooled beans in a food processor to a fluffy consistency. It should look like fine cornmeal but hold together when a small amount is pinched between your fingers. You should have about 1 cup.

3. To prepare the filling, combine the oil and shallot in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat until the shallot  sizzles. Continue to fry for 4 to 5 minutes, frequently swirling the pan to evenly cook, until most of the shallots are golden brown. Remove from the heat and stir in the mung beans and salt. If the filling feels stiff, add water by the teaspoon. Aim for a texture like that of dry mashed potatoes: if you press some between your fingers, it should stick together and leave your fingers slightly oily. You should have about 3/4 cup. Cover and set aside.

4. To make the dough, put the rice flour, tapioca starch and salt in a bowl. Stir to combine, then make a well in the center. Add the water and oil. Stir to combine into a dough. Transfer to a work surface and continue kneading for about 1, until the dough is very smooth and malleable, like soft Play-doh. Cut into 2 pieces and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside for 5 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, stir together the sugar, soy sauce, water, and chile in a bowl. Set this spicy soy sauce aside.

6. Line steamer trays with parchment paper and lightly oil. Set aside.

7. To form dumplings, work on 1 piece of dough at a time. Roll it out into a 12-inch rope then cut into 12 even pieces that resemble marshmallows.  Press each one into a disk, about 1/4 inch thick. If the dough is cracked, lightly wet your hands and knead the moisture into the dough. To form a wrapper, put a dough piece between two pieces of parchment, wax paper, or heavy plastic (cut from a freezer bag). Then use a tortilla press or heavy flat object such as a glass measuring cup to press the dough piece into a circle a good 2 3/4 inches wide. Set aside and repeat with the remaining dough pieces.

To shape a dumpling, place 1 1/2 teaspoons of filling slightly off center. Then bring up the wrapper to form a half moon. Press the edges closed to seal well. Set in the steamer tray, or on a lined baking sheet. Fill the remaining wrappers before working on the other piece of dough to form more wrappers and shape more dumplings.

8. Steam the dumplings over boiling water for about 8 minutes, or until shiny, slightly translucent, and a bit tacky to the touch. Cool for 1 minute before transferring to serving plates. Spoon on the spicy soy sauce and then garnish with the scallion oil and serve hot.

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