Brandon Jew's Pork Dumplings
Brandon Jew, chef-owner of the award-winning restaurant Mister Jiu's, in San Francisco’s Chinatown, is known for his gorgeous rainbow-colored dumplings. The cooks there make so many dumplings for the restaurant's modern Chinese menu that there is an entire room dedicated to dumpling making. But, growing up, Jew made dumplings at home with his family as a way to spend time together while also feeding a crowd. Here he shares one of his favorite recipes for dumplings, which get their gorgeous orange color from the juice of butternut squash, whose slightly sweet flavor complements the savory pork filling. For a shortcut, you could use purchased potsticker wrappers instead.
- For the wrappers:
- 1 butternut squash, about 3 lb. (1.5 kg)
- 3 cups (15 oz./475 g) all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
- 2 tsp. kosher salt
- Cornstarch for dusting
For the filling:
- 1 lb. (500 g) ground pork
- 1/4 lb. (125 g) finely grated butternut squash
- 1/2 cup (1 1/2 oz./45 g) thinly sliced green onions (from about 5 green onions)
- 2 Tbs. peeled and minced fresh ginger
- 1 Tbs. Asian sesame oil
- 1 Tbs. kosher salt
- 1 tsp. ground white pepper
For cooking and serving:
- Canola oil as needed
- Peeled and julienned fresh ginger, preferably young ginger, for garnish
- Coarsely chopped fresh sorrel leaves for garnish (optional)
- Chinese black vinegar for serving
To make the wrappers, using a large, heavy knife, trim the ends of the squash and carefully peel the squash. Cut the squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds and discard. Cut the squash into pieces that will fit into your juicer. Juice the squash according to the manufacturer’s instructions; it should yield about 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) liquid.
Put the flour and salt in a large bowl and add the butternut squash juice. Stir until combined, using your hands, if necessary, to finish mixing the dough and bring the mixture together; it will be tacky but should not stick to your fingers. Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel and set aside at room temperature to rest for about 30 minutes.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, 5 to 10 minutes. Cover again with a damp kitchen towel and set aside.
To make the filling, in a large bowl, gently stir together the pork, grated squash, green onions, ginger, sesame oil, salt and pepper until thoroughly combined. Set aside while you roll out the dumpling wrappers.
To make the wrappers, divide the dough into 6 equal pieces. Working with one piece at a time, on a lightly floured work surface, use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a rectangle about 1/2 inch (12 mm) thick and no wider than your pasta roller. Roll the dough through the rollers at the widest setting. Repeat the process 2 more times, rolling the dough through the rollers at the widest setting.
Now thin the dough by rolling it through the rollers at the second-to-widest setting. Continue rolling the dough, setting the rollers one notch narrower each time, until the dough is a little more than 1/16 inch (2 mm) thick (this is usually the third or fourth setting). Place the dough sheet on your floured working surface and, using a 3 1/2-inch (9-cm) round cutter, cut out as many rounds as possible from the sheet. Transfer the rounds to a lightly floured baking sheet and set aside. Repeat with the remaining 5 pieces of dough. You should have about 36 wrappers. (The scraps can be kneaded together and rolled out again, as above, to make more wrappers.)
Dust 2 baking sheets with cornstarch.
To fill the dumplings, place a wrapper on a work surface and brush the edges very lightly with water. (Fresh dumpling wrappers require less water to stick together than purchased wrappers.) Place about 1 1/2 tsp. of the filling in the center of the wrapper, fold the wrapper in half to enclose the filling and pleat the outer edge. (Don’t overstuff your dumplings or they won’t seal properly.) Place the finished dumpling back on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling. (If you’re preparing the dumplings in advance, the dumplings can be frozen on the baking sheets until firm, then stored in a sealable plastic bag until ready to cook. The dumplings don’t need to be defrosted before cooking; simply add a few minutes to the cooking time.)
To cook the dumplings, in a large nonstick fry pan over medium-high heat, pour enough canola oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan. Add some of the dumplings in a single layer fanning them out from the center of the pan. Cook until sizzling, about 1 minute, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Add enough water to the pan to cover the dumplings about halfway and cover the pan with a lid. Cook for 8 minutes, then remove the lid. Check the bottom of the dumplings; they should be golden and lightly crisped. Continue cooking, if necessary, until crisp and golden and the filling is firm, up to 5 minutes more. Transfer to a platter, cover with aluminum foil and keep warm in the oven. Repeat to cook the remaining dumplings.
To serve, garnish each dumpling with a few slivers of ginger and a small piece of sorrel leaf. Serve the dumplings with small bowls of Chinese black vinegar alongside for dipping. Makes about 36 dumplings.
Recipe courtesy of Chef Brandon Jew, chef-owner of Mister Jiu’s, San Francisco, CA