The first thing to do to get in the mood for dumplings is to make the dipping sauce. This becomes the base for the sauce in the dish. Recipes for dumpling dipping sauce vary—some use rice vinegar, some don’t; some use sesame oil, some don’t. But they all use soy sauce. I made my dipping sauce in the same proportions as I would if using with dumplings, a small bowl of it that was about a cup or less of liquid:
- 1/2 cup soy sauce—I used low sodium sauce here so the final dish would not be too salty
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar, unsweetened and unseasoned
- 2 teaspoons white sugar
- 1 teaspoon ginger, grated
- 1 clove garlic, grated
- 1 sliced green onion
- Optional: a teaspoon of hot sauce and a little water (I did not add these)
Stir until the sugar is dissolved and set aside. This can be made ahead, but the onions will soften and absorb some of the soy color, although it doesn’t hurt the dish in the end. You could always add the onion later.
Now add the same dipping sauce flavors to the pork.
- 1 lb ground lean pork
- 1 minced green onion
- 1 tablespoon ginger, grated
- 1-2 cloves garlic, grated
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1-2 tablespoons soy sauce—I used regular soy sauce here
Mix all ingredients lightly by hand, as if making a meatloaf mix. You can make this ahead as well and refrigerate until you’re ready to put it all together later in the day. By now the whole kitchen smells like dipping sauce (I think it’s the ginger-sesame oil combination).
Deconstructing the Dumpling (putting it together)
- 1/2 lb whole wheat angel hair pasta or your favorite noodle
- 1 lb ground pork mixture
- 1 cup dipping sauce
- 1-1 1/2 cups chicken stock
- Optional: 2 tablespoons hoisin (I did use this)
- 1/4-1/2 head sliced Napa cabbage (you could use regular cabbage, but Napa is mild and the curly leaves are attractive in Asian-inspired dishes)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup of above chicken stock
Bring water to boil for noodles and cook according to directions. Fine pasta cooks quickly, so plan to have the meat sauce done by then.
In a large sauté pan, brown the pork mixture in one tablespoon oil over medium high heat. I cooked it like any ground meat base for a sauce, but I think it would be interesting to make little meatballs of the mixture, as well. When the meat is browned, add the dipping sauce and chicken stock. Simmer covered for about ten minutes. Add the sliced cabbage and stir uncovered for a few minutes, then add the cornstarch mixture and stir until the sauce is glossy and slightly thickened. You don’t want to overcook the cabbage or over-thicken the sauce and have a gloppy mess. Wow, the word gloppy wasn’t flagged by the spellchecker!
Pour the sauce over the drained noodles all at once or in individual bowls/plates. Yummy. Just like eating dumplings.