The other night, stuck with leftover turkey meat after making myself a turkey burger for dinner the previous evening, I pondered what I could make for myself that would be different, something new, and something challenging. With a little help from the lovely Twitter world, I decided on making something similar to Chinese Dumplings.
Now- its a known fact- if I get Chinese food there MUST be Peking Ravioli involved. Those little devils are a serious weak point for me, but they are just not at all good for me (of course I don't ever order them steamed-what fun is that?). So when trying my own hand at making a similar product, I wanted to make it a bit healthier. So I started off by combining chopped garlic, ginger, freshly ground black pepper, chives, soy sauce, terriyaki sauce, Dijon mustard, and a few splashes of hot sauce in a small bowl. Then I worked in about three quarters of a pound of lean ground turkey meat. Once I felt that the flavorful liquid was fully combined throughout the meat, I started to assemble my dumplings.
I had purchased wonton wrappers from the grocery store, which, thankfully, are pre cut. I laid out about eight of them, and painted two sides of each square with a beaten egg, this would work as glue when joining the four sides together. Then I used a teaspoon to make portions of the turkey mixture, and placed each portion on a wrapper. I once again learned a lesson I should have learned years ago- I am terrible at guesstimating. When I was little and the library used to have those contests -Guess How Many Jelly Beans in the Jar"- I would lose- miserably- every time. I believe that my standard answers were 20, or a zillion. I'm not known for guessing well. My poor dumplings suffered a similar fate as I found that my portioning was a tad large for most of them which made it difficult to seal them. Onward I pressed though and ended up making about two dozen dumplings- not bad for a modest portion of meat!
I chose to steam the dumplings to keep with the healthier vibe, since I don't own a bamboo steamer as was recommended by a couple of the dumpling recipes I checked out, I decided to use my metal vegetable steamer instead. I placed it in a shallow pan and poured just enough water into the bottom to reach the strainer but not submerge it. I let the water heat up over medium heat, and then I carefully placed my dumplings on the basket, and covered the pan. Terrified of raw turkey, I probably over cooked them, but left them on for a good 15 minutes. They were well done.
Overcooked as they might have been though- those were some tasty dumplings! While I had been waiting, I made a quick sauce from many of the same ingredient in the dumplings themselves- soy sauce, terriyaki sauce, hot sauce and Dijon mustard-equal parts of each- though slightly less of my incredibly potent hot sauce (side note- that Mr. Ortiz-he knows how to make hot sauce!).
Now this is when it happened- I had a real Julia Child moment. As I'm sure many of you did, I grew up watching her on PBS- a treat that both my mother and I enjoyed. Her wit, positive attitude and strength in the kitchen was a major influence on me when I was little and beginning to navigate around my own culinary adventures-its always a joy when I can channel a little Julia. As I plated the dumpling, the over stuffed, over cooked dumplings, some of which were falling out of their wonton wrapper casings to be honest- they didn't look all that pretty and I was slightly dreading taking a photo. Then, I thought back and remembered all those episodes where Mrs. Child would simply "fix" whatever piece looked not perfect, and be utterly proud despite it. So I plated the last of the dumplings, spooned some of the lovely sauce over the top, and the garnished it with lovely chopped chives. The color contrasts were lovely, and the dish looked beautiful. Phew. And then, then it was time to dig in.
I made a small plate for myself with a few of the dumplings paired with a simple salad of Olivia's Organics Asian mix with a raspberry lime vinaigrette that I made. Then-I dug in. The dumplings were,despite all of my misgivings, delicious. They were spicy with a great salty, gingery flair-full of flavor! The turkey meat held up really well, though a little dry, I thought it was even better than the normal pork I am used to in this dish. For my first attempt at dumplings- I have to say these were very close to success.