Exploring new cooking techniques involves knowing how to use a dumpling press. "Dumpling" is a term used to describe a rounded piece of dough put into a hot bath of broth or stew, but the term is also used for a tasty Asian delicacy made with a rice pastry. Unless you have fabulous dexterity and loads of dumpling-making skills, you'll need a press to craft these treats. Even if you fancy yourself a master in the rice pastry shell department, the press allows you to whip up a mess of dumplings in time for a dinner party, or even one big snack.
You'll need only a few basic items to use a dumpling press, including:
- dumpling press
- dumpling skins or wraps
- finger bowl
- waxed paper
- serving spoon
- wok or frying pan
- cooking oil
- stuffing mixture, prepackaged or home speciality
- pastry brush, optional item
- Put out all the essential equipment. Get everything you need right off the bat. Even though the rice wraps are not as gooey as flour baking, your hands are going to get a bit sticky during the dumpling pressing. You'll also want your dumplings to be as sanitary as possible, especially if the dinner guests are watching the dumpling making process.
- Fill the water finger bowl. You'll need a small bit of water to seal the rice wraps. This is for your hands or, for the super sanitary cooks, for the pastry brush.
- Dust your surface. Put down a bit of rice flour over the area. If the rice skin or finished dumpling drops on the counter, you'll want a clean recovery. The flour allows you an error factor and time to peel the dumpling up without any damage. For some folks, appearance is everything. If you don't care about how your dumpling looks after an accidental fall on the counter, skip this step. For messy cooks focused only on the finished product, put down a light floor mix on the floor and stove cooking area.
- Put out your waxed paper. This paper allows easy transfer of the finished product from the countertop to the cooking pan. How to use a dumpling press involves developing a system for rapid production.
- Prepare the stuffing or open the prepared ingredients. The stuffing is a matter of personal taste. Poultry, chicken, fish and veggies are nice fillers. Cabbage is a necessity. It helps the dumpling keep its shape and also adds a nice crunchy feel to the dumplings.
- Cook the stuffing. Lightly cook the veggies and prepare the meats, if you insist, so that you don't endanger the diners with bacteria dumplings. Put the stuffing in a bowl with a large spoon next to the dumpling press.
- Flour the press. Lightly dust the dumpling press. Keep the flour near the press; you'll need to re-dust occasionally during the dumpling making process.
- Put out the skins, also known as wraps or papers. Keep the dumpling wraps, sometimes called papers for the extremely thin wraps, cold until this point in the cooking process.
- Press time. Lightly push one wrap onto the press. Push lightly around the edges, not in the middle of the pockets. It will overlap slightly at the edges, so center the wrap directly over the dumpling press. Add the filling to the center and close the press so that both sides meet up and wrap around the stuffing.
- Trim the dumpling. Trim excess wrap from the edge of the dumpling press. Use the excess wraps to make smaller treats with tiny dumpling presses. Not practical for big eaters, but an interesting decoration for dinner parties.
- Line up the finished product. Put out your finished dumplings on the waxed paper.
- Time for boiling, baking or frying. Lightly cook the dumpling using your favorite medium. Serve your art.
Tips: If your dumplings are sticking to the press, add more flour. Dumpling presses are made in a half dozen different sizes. How to use a dumpling press involves knowing the best size for the stuffing filling. Experiment with different sizes until you get just the right mix of shape and stuffing.