An adaptation to the bao recipe my mum taught me for when you are shorter on time but still want something delicious!
While Chinese recipes often call for pork, specifically fattier cuts such as belly of pork, I use minced turkey thigh in many of my dumpling recipes. Turkey is a leaner mince in comparison to standard pork mince (5.5g fat versus 11.6g fat per 100g respectively) yet still doesn’t dry out when cooked. This is partially due to the use of thigh meat rather than breast, which is usually much juicer, as well as the use of a tiny amount of bicarbonate of soda. The bicarbonate of soda, once mixed in with the mince, helps it stay soft and juicy, as well as give a little “bounce” which higher fat meats tend to have.
This is perfectly adaptable to whatever ingredients you wish to use. You can use firm tofu, which I also press to prevent excess water inside the dumpling. Swap weight for weight, although it can be a little more difficult to pleat the dumplings as the mixture is much more crumbly and does not stick together in the same way as meat does.
I also love to use fish and shellfish in dumplings. You could also do a mixture, one we often use in our family recipes is prawn and turkey, again traditionally it would have been pork and prawn, but we have added this little healthy swap which tastes absolutely delicious!
Folding the dumplings can be a little tricky. If you struggle the simplest shape you could make would be either a half-moon where you literally fold the skin on itself to make a semicircle shape, or you could gather all the pastry around to the top and squeeze to make a “money purse” shape. As you get more adventurous there are so many different shapes you can try.
Makes 12 dumplings
- 1 quantity of dumpling skins
- 100g turkey mince, preferably thigh
- 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1 tsp corn flour
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 3 shiitake mushrooms, fresh, or if dried soaked in water till soft, finely diced
- 35g bamboo shoots, finely sliced
- 15g coriander, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cm ginger slice, finely diced
- Pinch of white pepper
- Oil for cooking
- Mix the turkey mince with the bicarbonate of soda thoroughly. Then add all the remaining ingredients, except the oil for frying, and mix well.
- Take 1 dumpling skin and fill it with a heaped teaspoon of the mixture. Pinch the end and then pleat the top half of the skin onto the bottom half of the skin to create a slight crescent shape.
- Add a dash of oil to your frying pan to stop the dumplings from sticking, and arrange them so they have at least 1 cm between each dumpling. You may need to cook them in batches depending on the size of your pan.
- Cook for 2-3 minutes over a low-medium heat so they are golden on the bottom. Then add hot water to cover the bottom third of the dumpling and immediately cover with a lid to steam the dumplings.
- After 5 minutes, remove the lid and allow any remaining liquid to evaporate off, add a dash of sesame oil to finish and crisp the bottoms for 1 minute.
- Remove the dumplings onto a plate and enjoy hot with a dipping sauce of your choice.
Per dumpling: 66kcal/ 1.9g fat/ 0.4g saturated fat/ 8.7g carbohydrates/ 0.7g fibre/ 3.3g protein