Thursday, September 4, 2008

Spiced Lamb Dumplings with vegetables fillings

My continued obsession with Dumplings.

From craving to obsession. Now that I have fulfilled my craving for the familiar pork and prawn dumplings - cooked in two different ways, I decided to explore a new territory in dumpling hood. After all, I have bought 3 packs of dumpling wrappers and there is one pack and a half left from my previous dumplings production. By now I have mastered the skill of dumpling wrapping with assembly line efficiency that I was confident enough to start the dumpling making process so late toward dinner time. It was about 7 pm when I decided that I will give this new recipe that popped up in my head earlier, a try.

I never had any lamb dumplings before and wondered what lamb would taste like cooked as dumplings. I have only known about and eaten Chinese dumplings most of my life and I did not even know that dumplings exist in the cuisines of other cultures other than the Chinese, and most of the Chinese dumplings I ever had were either pork, prawns, pork and prawns together or occasionally, chicken.
Actually, I think some parts of China do have lamb and other types of dumplings in their cuisines, even though I have never tried any. So imagine my surprise when I found out that other "nationalities" have their own versions of dumplings. And as it turns out Turkish and Kazakhstanis dumplings are made out of lamb meat and spices and maybe cheese (correct me if I'm wrong). My first introduction to dumplings outside of Chinese cuisine was from eating Ukrainian perogies. In fact, eating Ukrainian perogies is the extent of my non-Chinese dumplings cuisine experience. I hope to expand my international cuisine horizon soon. Meanwhile, I will start my experimental culinary journey by making and trying out dumplings with lamb fillings instead of the usual pork, prawns or chicken. Lamb has such a strong scent, so given my Indonesian spicy taste bud, I figured that it is best to marinade the meat with exotic spices with equally strong aromas and flavors to mask the scent and enhance the flavor of the lamb at the same time. As I began my experiment with this new recipe, I crossed my fingers, hoping that it will not turn out to be disastrous and thus leaving my partner and me starving and scrambling for food so late past dinner time.

  • 1/2 lb. lamb
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1/4 cup frozen peas and corn, rinsed and drained
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. white and black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. fried fennel seed, cooled and then crushed
  • 1 whole anise seed, fried together with fennel, cooled and set aside
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin powder
  • 1 tbsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp. chili oil and a pinch of dried red pepper (optional)
  • a dash of clove powder and cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika and 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • A dash of ground ginger (optional)
  • Dumpling wrappers
  • Olive oil and cilantro for garnish
  • Place all of the cut and diced vegetables and herb in one bowl (carrots, peas, shallots, red onion, garlic, cilantro), season with salt and pepper.
  • In a small bowl, mix together sugar, chili oil (optional), a dash of salt and pepper and all of the spices, but leave out the fennel seeds and anise seed.
  • Season ground lamb with salt and pepper, add the cornstarch, fennel seeds, anise seed and canola oil and mix.
  • Add the vegetable mixture into the meat mixture, add the spice mix into the whole mixture and blend.
  • Take the anise seed out of the mixture and discard.
  • Beat an egg in a bowl and pour into the mixture and mix thoroughly until the moist is distributed evenly.
  • Take a spoonful of meat mixture onto each dumpling wrapper, wet the edges and fold.
Now that the dumplings are ready to go, they can be cooked right away or saved for later use by freezing them. For my first try, I boiled about a dozen of these lamb dumplings (using the same technique I used when boiling the pork and prawn dumplings from my previous post). Once cooked, I drained the dumplings into a bowl and drizzle them with olive oil (or rather, bath them in olive oil), and this was how I discovered that the taste of olive actually complements lamb very well. By 7.45 pm, we were enjoying one savory dumpling after another. They were quite delicious and better than I expected. The fennel and anise seeds give the dumplings a pleasant and distinctly sweet taste and aroma. The blends of spices really enhance the flavor of the lamb, and the combination of crunchy vegetables and the softly melting dumpling skins leaves a luscious and sweet aftertaste. It was very satisfying indeed. Overall, the recipe was quite a hit in my house!

The next day, I tried frying them.
"Flavorful, succulent and crispy" is how I would describe these fried lamb dumplings. Hmm...mmm.... My craving for dumplings of all kinds is sated for now.

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