One of my dear mom friends has a saying that resonates deeply in my head, heart, and stomach.
“Food is love.”
So simple. So true. Nothing says love like cooking a meal for a family with a newborn, or sending a sweet treat to a friend going through a rough time. That kind of nourishment goes beyond filling hungry bellies – it also fills the soul.
Recently, my friend Monica visited from New York. She’s a phenomenal friend from Jon’s and my years in New York, and our daughters clamor for her. She also makes the best pork and shrimp dumplings.
The first time Monica made dumplings for us, my first daughter was six weeks old. I remember desperately soothing her during the witching hour while hungrily watching the steam rise off the pan as the dumplings finished cooking. I’ve never been so ravenous as in these early years of motherhood! I felt so loved and cared for that night as Jon hand-fed me the warm, slightly chewy dumplings bursting with the livening flavors of ginger and garlic. I also found a new favorite comfort food.
I love that the dumplings’ ingredients, like fish sauce and chili oil, have become regulars in our pantry. We’ve learned to incorporate them into other dishes, making our everyday meals more flavorful. I purchase all the ingredients at my regular grocery store, with the exception of the dumpling skins. Monica always brings them with her from NYC to save us an errand. Of course New Orleans has quite a few local Asian markets, like Dong Khanh on the Westbank or Golden City Asian Market in Metairie. Or you can have them delivered to your door.
This time when Monica made the dumplings, my now 3.5-year-old big girl helped her pinch them closed while her younger sister watched with interest. The girls gingerly tried a few bites.
I look forward to telling and retelling them our family’s dumpling story as they grow. I hope they understand that my love for these dumplings is as much about the taste as it is to my love for our family.
Recipe: Pork and Shrimp Dumplings
At first glance, the recipe might seem complex, but Monica makes it looks as easy as chopping a salad. While I lack the patience and technique to fold my dumplings neat and pretty, mine still taste divine.
- 1 40-ct package of dumpling skins
- 1/2 lb uncooked shrimp
- 1/4 lb ground lean pork
- 1 tablespoon mirin (or sugar)
- 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce (or coconut aminos)
- 1 egg white
- Small chunk of ginger, grated
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/2 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
- Small to medium handful of chives, minced
Dipping Sauce Ingredients
- Rice vinegar
- Spicy chili oil
- Soy sauce (or coconut aminos)
- Mix ground pork with mirin, ginger, garlic, chives, fish sauce and soy sauce.
- Dice shrimp. Add to the pork mixture along with the egg white.
- Fill the dumpling skins with pork and shrimp.
- Fill a small bowl with water. Scoop a spoonful of filling (not too much or it will be hard to close) and wet the edge of the skin with a dab of water on your finger.
- Fold. Here’s a video and link with different folding techniques.
- In a medium to large frying pan, add your oil of choice and turn pan on medium to high heat. Wait until very hot. Have the frying pan cover ready nearby.
- Place first batch of about 8 dumplings in oil. In less than a minute check to see that bottom has browned. You’re not frying them in full, just browning them a smidge.
- Once the bottoms are brown, to the same pan, add ¼ cup water. Turn pan to medium-to-low heat, and cover immediately to steam. When all the water has burned off, the dumplings are ready.
Dipping Sauce Directions
Approximately 2 parts soy; 1 part vinegar; and a splash of chili oil (watch it, it’s hot!). Stir, then make adjustments according to your taste.