Plenty of stories are told around dining tables and food that unite us. As a Chinese-American, oftentimes the magic element that brings us together is dumplings.
Since I was a little child, my family has gathered around the dining table and made dumplings. The sounds of chitchat and laughter filtered even through the living room. There was flour on the table—and perhaps on the floor around the table too.
Grandma started the reunion by creating the enchanted dough with just flour and water. Everyone had something to do. Some were in charge of getting the filling ready. Others were in charge of scooping the filling onto the wrappers and sealing them. And of course, all of us were responsible for the eating part.
The dumpling is a celebratory and staple food for Chinese. It’s like ravioli, and it has a filling sealed inside a flour-based wrapper. The fillings are only limited by one’s imagination–minced chicken, pork, beef, lamb, vegetables, or seafood. And the dumplings can be made into many different shapes as well.
At Uncle Ted’s Modern Chinese Cuisine in Greenwich Village in New York City, Ted Chang’s specialty is duck dumplings. I had never had them before and thought I’d love to try. So a couple of days ago, I went to his kitchen, and he taught me his secret recipe.
According to Chang, duck dumplings are made into the shape of a woman’s shoe. It’s sort of like Cinderella’s glass slipper, translucently stunning. The recipe is surprisingly easy and yet shockingly delicious.
I believe this is a recipe with a fairy tale ending: uniting your whole family. Happy eating!
Duck Dumplings Recipe
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Makes 2 servings
It’s adapted from the original recipe
12 dumpling wrappers
1 duck breast, minced, about 8 ounces
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
Mix the minced duck breast, sugar, oyster sauce, salt, and white pepper together to make the filling. Place 1 tablespoon of filling on each dumpling wrapper. Dip one fingertip in a bowl of water and dampen the edge of the dumpling wrapper. (Press and firmly seal three edges of the wrapper together to create a triangular dumpling. Then two of the sides down and inward to form circular shapes. Place the dumplings on a steamer and cook for 8 minutes. Carefully take out the dumplings and enjoy.
This recipe has been adapted from the original recipe from Uncle Ted’s, Greenwich Village.