House-made dumpling wrappers are nothing special for Chinese restaurants—go to any city’s Chinatown and you’ll see dumpling houses with frail grandmothers in the window, crimping and rolling out their dough. But some restaurants—especially those that dabble in eclectic menus—consider dumpling dough a luxury and purchase premade wanton wrappers instead of its toothsome, house-made counterpart.
Not at M.B. Post, Chef David LeFevre’s new eclectic restaurant in Manhattan Beach, California, where the dumplings are fresh-made and as authentic as possible (with a few twists, of course). “We had never made dumpling dough before,” LeFevre says, “which was its own inspiration to try it. We try to make a lot of our own stuff. We’ve never made kimchi; now we’re making our own mustard. So we were really excited to try making our own dumplings.”
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LeFevre started with a scallop and dashi broth dish on his menu, but needed something bright and textural to offset the rich scallops and the umami of the broth. The dumplings fit the bill. The resulting dish—Diver Scallops with Ginger-Shrimp Dumpling—became a happy, polygamous marriage between the big daddy of the dish (the scallops), the earthy katsuo-dashi broth, spicy citrus from yuzu chili paste, and, perhaps as the sensible, matronly mother, the ginger-shrimp dumplings.
At first, LeFevre thought he would simply buy the dumpling skins, but he soon put that idea to bed, opting instead to roll out his own. And why not? His technique provides a simple and effective way to make durable, silky dough that both holds up to and complements his delicate ginger-shrimp filling. “We all loved getting dim sum so much, we decided to make the dough ourselves,” LeFevre says, opting to use the traditional half-moon primp fold for his dumplings.
Making the dough required a bit of trial and error. At first, LeFevre tried to let the dough sit without steaming, which led to cracking and drying out. By keeping the dough wrapped, the hot steam permeates the starch. “We found out the hard way that we needed to let the dough steam,” he says. “You can’t treat it like typical pasta dough. It needs to be spongy.”
While it may not be the traditional jiaozi method favored by those old Chinese grandmothers, LeFevre’s method of steaming the dough and then rolling it out using a pasta machine—as if he were making lasagna sheets—lets him stretch the elastic dough until it’s translucent. “For us, the pasta machine makes it a lot simpler, and a lot more efficient,” he says. And a lot tastier than store-bought wrappers.
Step 1: Combine the flour and wheat starch in a large mixing bowl.
Step 2: Bring water to a boil, add the oil, and combine with the dry ingredients.
Step 3: Quickly form a lumpy mass and cover in plastic wrap. Let the dough steam for 30 minutes or until room temperature.
Step 4: Knead the dough by hand for 5 to 8 minutes until the dough becomes spongy. Reserve at room temperature until ready, then roll out into thin wrapper circles 3 inches in diameter.
Step 5: Fill with shrimp-ginger filling and form half-moon dumplings, crimping around the edges and using water to seal.