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Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Dorm Room Shu Mai Dumplings

I posted this on the Something Awful Forums in Goons with Spoons, thought I'd share...

Quote: still a child
"So, does anyone have any recipes that can be made using *only* a rice cooker/steamer combo? I would also love to be able to make pasta in this, but I don't know if that's possible. Anyone have creative uses/recipes for rice cookers"

So, I love my rice cooker with steamer basket! My favorite thing to make in the steamer is shu mai dumplings. The starter seasonings cost a little bit more than you would normally pay, but they are delicious, filling, and relatively healthy way to get protein cooked, the ingredients can probably keep for two weeks (if you have a freezer for the meat and onions), plus they are fun to eat.

I have never tried to make them in a dorm room mind you, but let me tell you generally how to make them (I have to edit in the recipe later because I have to get the cookbook from my in-laws house). I will try to keep in mind that you are in your dorm room. A random tool that may help you make food (and is compact) is a small (1.5 cup) inexpensive ($9-$10) food chopper, otherwise you need a knife - can cut a tomato cleanly without it squishing is decent, but you only need one and a strong cutting board - and check school rules for having knives in dorm rooms, wouldn't want you to get the boot for having a "weapon" in your room.

You need a very small amount of ground turkey if you are making dumplings for yourself and maybe one other person. If you have access to a freezer, feel free to get a pound, but otherwise a 1/4 of a lb is good for one or 1/2 a lb is good for two (I think). You will also need salt and pepper (you can buy a picnic pack of salt ond pepper in shakers for less than $5 and they will last you all year, and probably the next) a small bottle of sesame seed oil (found in the ethnic/Asian food aisle of grocery stores), a can of water chestnuts (in the same area as the oil), a small bundle of green onions (produce), and the smallest pkg of raw wonton or dumpling wrappers (I like the round ones, they are usually near the produce in a refrigerated case). All of these things can be found in the same grocery store, but you will pay less for them at an ethnic (Asian) market if you have one near school, be advised that you should understand exactly what you are looking for (hence the links since I don't know how to post pics yet) because there are many variations on these things in ethnic markets.

Basically, you need 2-3 bowls (the biggest cereal bowls you can find would be good, doesn't matter what they are made of as long as they are not paper), three plates (paper is okay - you need one for a prep plate, one for the prepared dumplings, and one to serve/eat on), a can opener, a spoon, and a fork. You need either the food chopper (will make this way easier) or a decent knife and cutting board (this method is much messier).

Open the can of water chestnuts with a can opener and drain the water. Set aside.

In the first bowl, crack an egg, mix it well with the fork, set aside.

If you have the chopper, fill it about halfway with ground turkey, take one sprig of onion and rip it up and put it in the chopper, add about 2 whole water chestnuts or about 6-8 sliced pieces if you bought sliced chestnuts. Add a few drops of the oil, sprinkle salt and pepper and spoon in about 2-3 spoonfuls of the beaten egg. put on the lid and turn it on. Let it run till everything is smooth and mixed up. You should be able to spoon out a clump of the mixture, it should not be runny, if it is add a little bit more turkey at a time until it is not runny. If it is too crumbly, then you can add a little more egg. You can either put the finished mix in a bowl if you are going to make more, or just spoon out of the chopper container.

If you do not have a food chopper, you will have to finely chop the onions and water chestnuts and measure out roughly 3/4 of a cup of turkey and put it all in a bowl. Add a few drops of the oil, sprinkle salt and pepper and spoon in about 2-3 spoonfuls of the beaten egg. It would be better to use your hands, but if you are squeemish about raw meat or are not near a bathroom, use a spoon to mix the stuff up and really mix it well. Again, make sure the mixture is not too crumbly or too runny. You want it to be like a meatball's texture in this case. Roll mini meatballs for each dumpling if it is easier than spooning the right amount into each wrapper.

On one plate, lay out some of the wonton/dumpling wrappers. spoon in a clump of the meat mix and pinch the top closed all around the meat. Transfer to the other plate. When you have formed enough dumplings to fit in your steamer basket, turn it on with some water in the bottom and let it run for about 15 minutes.

While these dumplings are cooking, you can make another batch, because you might want more and the smell will probably attract a few other dormies who will want to try some, you should share, there will be plenty to fill you up. Place the prepped dumplings that are waiting for the steamer on an open plate. When the first set are done cooking take out and enjoy! Place the second set into the steamer while you devour the first set.

Each dumpling is worth one Weight Watchers point (it was a WW recipe that I adapted for your dorming pleasure. This may be a bit of an undertaking, but I found that if I just use up all of the meat I get to fill the wrappers, I have a lot to save. They are better stored uncooked in the fridge and can be cooked within a day or two. They may even be freezable, you would need to cook them a lot longer if they are frozen though.

I like to mix up a little vinegar (if they serve fish and chips on or near campus you can snatch a few packets of vinegar to keep in your room, or pick up a bottle of rice vinegarif you have a couple extra bucks), with a couple of drops of the oil and some soy sauce (also available in packets from the local Chinese take out or you can pick up a bottle of soy sauce for another couple of dollars if you have it, but the sauce is not necessary, just delicious to dip the dumplings in!

I know this is a bit much for everyday eating, but it is fun once in a while and will also feed you for a good 2 days or so depending on how you store the leftover dumplings and products you used. And all you need to cook it in is your rice cooker/steamer!

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