Sorry for being MIA! So, where have I been?
- In the process of buying a house (plumbing issues have arisen upon further inspection….maybe we won’t be buying a house?)
- Getting sick with gastroenteritis (wooohoo, free weight loss!)
- Working as a pastry chef @ a cafe nearby (getting paid to do what I love- make food!)
As you can see, I’ve been busy with life outside the blog! However, the show must go on…
Today I wanted to share with you the recipe I use for dan jiao, or egg dumplings. If you like regular dumplings, pork, egg, or tasty food, you will like these, too!
My family is not traditional. When Chinese New Year would roll around, sometimes my dad would give me nothing. Other years, he’d be like, Here’s $40! Happy New Year! I would be envious of my Cantonese friends at school when they bragged about the 300 dollars that their grandma gave them, and how their savings was mostly comprised of Chinese New Year money. I don’t remember celebrating Chinese New Year with a big traditional meal, or any particular meal at all! I found out only 2 CNYs ago from my friend Desmond that you’re supposed to cook 2 fishes on New Year’s Eve- one to eat, and one for leftovers ? Huh.
4 years ago, I decided that I wanted to create some traditions, starting with Chinese New Year dishes. Puo Puo’s dan jiao were nestled in a big clay pot, among a bed of napa cabbage, fen si, and soaking in gao tang, or umami-rich broth that had been stewing for a looong time. The fen si soaked up the broth, and the dan jiao were just sooo good! It didn’t take much for PuoPuo to remind us that dan jiao, or egg dumplings, were gongfu cai, meaning dishes that require time, skill, and patience.
The first year I made them, it took no time for me to understand why puopuo called them gong fu cai- it took forever to make them. It will probably take you forever to make them, too, the first time you try. BUT! It is worth it. Really. These luxury dumplings now make it to our CNY table every year, despite a lack of any other tradition keeping. That enough should be incentive enough for you to try these out!
Makes 3 dozen
1 lb ground pork- in this case, the fattier, the tastier
1 tsp ginger, minced
1 stalk scallion, minced
2 tsp Shaoxing wine
1/4-1/2 tsp white pepper (to taste)
1 Tbsp sesame oil
4 tsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp salt
9 large eggs
3/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp cornstarch+1 Tbsp water (optional)
For the soup:
-8 cups of broth- pork or chicken (pork recommended)
-Handful of dried or fresh shiitake mushrooms
-2-3 tsp dried shrimp or scallop
-Half a head of napa cabbage, roughly chopped
-1 box of frozen tofu, cut into chunks
-2.5-5 ounces of mung bean threads / vermicelli / fen si (粉絲）
-Salt to taste
-Anything else you want to toss into the soup (carrots, daikon, winter melon…in our household, the dan jiao is the star, so it doesn’t even need much else!)
For the soup:
1) I usually get a bunch of pork neck bones (~2 lbs) and add enough water to cover them, and then some. Bring to a boil, then rinse the bones of the yucky grey stuff. Dump that water, then replace with clean water. Bring to a boil, then simmer for at least 2 hours. The hearty add-ins like shiitake mushrooms and dried seafood can go in with the clean water, but wait until the very end (last 10 minutes of cooking) for the napa and frozen tofu. For the mung bean threads , they should be soaked in room temperature water until you are ready to eat. When your dan jiao are cooked and hot, add the fen si, close the lid, then turn the heat off. Let the residual heat cook the mung bean threads while you call people for dinner.
For the dan jiao:
1) Just like for making any other meat filling, (like for dumplings or hu jiao bing) you want to stir up the filling ingredients really well. If the mixture is really hard to stir (say, if it is very fatty), add one teaspoon of water at a time so that the water can help break up the pork pieces. When the filling is well mixed, the filling will start to form one big clump of filling, meaning that the fat has been mixed enough to help ‘glue’ everything together. Mix and mix until you see this big clump! Note that this will take longer to achieve with leaner meat, as it doesn’t have as much fat to glue everything together.
If possible, cover the filling and let it marinate in the fridge while you do other stuff. When you are about ready to use it, take a small piece, and zap it in the microwave or cook it on the stove. Does it need more salt or soy sauce? Add more now. Keep in mind that as you stew the dan jiao in the broth, it will lose some of its saltiness, so if by chance you over-salt/soy sauce it, fear not, because some of the saltiness will leach into the soup.
2) Make the egg wrapper part: beat the eggs and salt together. The cornstarch is optional, as I’ve seen both recipes that have and do not have cornstarch. But, it’s what I do, and it seems to help? Totally up to you. In a separate bowl, mix the cornstarch and water to form a slurry. Add to the eggs and beat well.
2) Now it’s the fun part: making the dan jiao! Heat up a cast iron skillet (or non-stick pan). Then, add oil just to barely grease the pan, using a spatula to evenly spread it everywhere.
3) For the heat- it cannot be on high, nor can it be on low: it must be just right. Whatt? Too high, and the egg will set up before you can use the raw egg to glue the other half of the egg together. Too low, and the egg will just be runny and ugly as you add it onto the pan. So, you’ll need to find the perfect heat setting. Something like medium low should be about right.
4) Use a spoon to slowly transfer the egg onto the saucepan; you want a little bit of the egg to set up before adding more. When I make them, the spoon actually makes contact with the pan a bit; I find this helps me shape the oval well! Make an oval that is about twice the length of however tall you want the danjiao to be.
5) Look for the side of the egg that looks less set-up/cooked through; put a little bit of filling (no more than 2-3 tsp) on that half. leaving a small border on one side, and a large gap on the other side.
6) As soon as you put your filling on the egg, use a spatula to take the half without meat and fold it over, so you form a half-circle egg dumpling. Try to lightly press down on the edges to help adhere the egg to itself. In an ideal world, you will accomplish this step while there is still raw egg on the filling side that will help the sides seal up well.
7) Gently move the finished dan jiao to the edge of the pan, and make room for the next dan jiao. When the dan jiao is golden brown on each side, remove it to a plate.
8) Repeat steps 4-7 as many times as necessary to use up all your stuff! Add a little oil in between batches, if necessary. Cooking is an art, and you may end up with extra filling or egg. Make more egg to go with extra filling, or just cook the egg and eat it, if you have extra egg.
9) When you make the dan jiao, the filling inside will not cook all the way. That is because dan jiao are meat to be served in soup. Eat a bite of the dan jiao, drink some hot soup.
10) So, when you are ready to eat the dan jiao, heat up your stock until it’s a gentle boil, and add your dan jiao. Cook on a gentle boil for 10 minutes, and then your dan jiao will be ready! Follow directions up top for fen si, if you are using them.
If you have leftover dan jiao, they’re great with leftover stock plus rice noodles (米粉). Heat up the dan jiao and stock, and cook the rice noodles in a separate pot (to avoid getting the stock gummy from the starch of the rice noodles). Portion out the rice noodles, and top with dan jiao, stock, and leftover stuff from the stock. It’s a great lunch or dinner!