I"m not sure what changed, but something clicked in my head last week. I pulled out my new go-to essential asian cookbook and began perusing the Korean section. Korean soups are especially good, so I decided to focus on those recipes. I found one for a meat dumpling soup that intrigued me.
As I read the recipe, I was surprised to see that it called for toasted, crushed white sesame seeds. It dawned on me that the crushed seeds played a key role in creating the distinctive flavor that I associate with Korean food and not other East Asian cuisines. The recipe combined beef and pork, made into dumplings cooked in a ginger and scallion-infused beef stock. Can you smell it???
I was confronted with some challenges. I was determined to make the soup, but realized that I did not have the exact ingredients. I didn't have mushrooms, which are chopped and put into the dumpling. So, I substituted chopped bamboo shoots. That worked fine. And I had won ton wrappers; not the gow gee wrappers called for in the recipe. Whatever. I used what I had on hand. While not totally authentic in that way, the soup was very, very flavorful and the dumplings were absolutely delightful.
Most of the work is in the preparation of the vegetables. The recipe itself is straightforward. I see myself memorizing it and making this soup on a regular basis. It's definitely a winner!
Korean Meat Dumpling Soup
1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
2 tablespoons oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 3/4 oz. lean pork mince
6/1/2 oz. lean beef mince
1/3 cup water
6 1/2 oz. Chinese cabbage, finely shredded
3 1/3 oz bean sprouts, chopped, scraggly ends removed
3 1/3 oz mushrooms, finely chopped
3 spring onions, finely chopped
4 3/4 oz gow gee wrappers
2.5 liters beef stock
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/4 inch piece fresh ginger, very finely sliced
4 spring onion, chopped
1. Toast the sesame seeds ina dry pan over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes,
shaking the pan gently, s gently, until the seeds are golden brown, remove from the pan at once to prevent burning. Crush the seeds in a food mill or with a morta and pestle.
2. Heat the oil in a pan. Cook the garlic and mince over medium heat until the meat changes color, breaking up any lumps with a fork.
Add the water, cabbage, sprouts and mushrooms. (I used bamboo shoots instead of mushrooms.) Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 6 minutes or until the water evaporates and the vegetables soften. Add the spring onion, crushed seeds and season with salt and pepper to taste; set aside.
3. Work with one gow gee wrapper at a time and keep teh extra wrappers covered with a damp tea towel. Place 1 teaspoon of filling on a wrapper, just off-center, and gently smooth out the filling a little. brush teh edges oft he wrapper with a little water and fold it over the filling to form a semicircle. Press the edges together to seal. Repeat with the extra wrappers and filling. (I could not find these wrappers, so I used won ton wrappers. If you find yourself in the same position, make sure you seal them tightly as they will become puffy if you don't.)
4. To make Soup: combine the stock, soy sauce, ginger and half the spring onion in a large pan; bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes. I added additional Chinese cabbage.
5. Drop the dumplings into the soup and cook gently for 5 minutes, or until they change color and look plump. Garnish with the remaining spring onion and serve immediately.