Born in Arizona, raised in Chicago by his Chinese mother and now a resident of France, Ken Hom knows a thing or three about crossing borders, culturally as well as literally.
Hom first found international fame in the BBC TV series Ken Hom’s Chinese Cookery in 1982 after being talent-spotted by Indian cookery star Madhur Jaffrey. He quickly became a household name in Britain and beyond, and has since had his many cookbooks translated into many different languages.
These fragrant, slippery pork dumplings are inspired by Hom but Lesley prefers to call them “Chinese-style” rather than “Chinese”. “‘Only the Chinese can really make Chinese food’ is one of the most important things I have learnt in cooking,” she says. “It’s not just to do with recipes but with understanding the language and culture at its fundamental level.”
That doesn’t and shouldn’t stop anyone else from learning as much as possible about traditional Chinese cooking; Hom has made it his life’s mission to teach Western cooks to wield a wok with confidence.
Although Chinese dumplings are highly specialised—professional dumpling chefs may spend years mastering the necessary techniques—some styles are easier to make than others. This, Lesley’s adaptation of a Hom recipe for dumpling skins and filling, makes a good start. The rolling and dumpling assembly takes time but the silky-skinned results are well worth it.
Make the Dough
- Pour the water into the Thermomix and heat 2 minutes/70 degrees/speed 2. Add the flour all at once and mix 20 seconds/speed 3. Take the lid off and allow the Thermomix to cool down to 50 degrees then work the dough 1 minute/Knead. Turn onto a work surface and knead lightly to form a smooth dough.
- Roll the dough into a sausage and cut into 16 even-sized pieces. Roll into 11-centimetre circles. The dough will be quite thin; don’t worry if the circles are not true, use a large cutter to neaten them later if need be.
- Lay the 16 dough circles on a floured tray and refrigerate until needed.
Make the Dressing
- Place the coriander, ginger and spring onions into mixing bowl. Chop 5 seconds/speed 5 then scrape the bowl down. Repeat twice more; the ingredients should be finely chopped but not wet.
- Add all the remaining ingredients and mix 5 seconds/speed 3. Make sure all the sugar is incorporated. Set aside. Rinse the bowl out quickly, there is no need to wash it.
Make the Filling
- Place the ginger and spring onion into the mixing bowl and chop 5 seconds/speed 5.
- Add the cabbage and chop 10 seconds/speed 4.
- Add the chicken stock and sherry then cook gently 3 minutes/80 degrees/speed soft.
- Add the soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, pepper and pork. Mix 5 seconds/speed 3, the mix is quite moist.
- Scrape the mixture out, rinse the mixing bowl briefly and fill it with 1 litre cold water. Set the lid in place and heat the water 15 minutes/ Varoma/speed 2 while you make the dumplings.
Make the Dumplings
- Lay all 16 dough circles out on a work surface, neatening them with a cutter if you like. Place a small amount of the filling in the centre of each one making sure they are even and all the filling is used.
- Moisten the edges with cold water then draw the outside edges together over the filling to form a money-bag shape. Squeeze the top together gently.
- Remove the flat from the Varoma and grease it thoroughly. Place all 16 dumplings on the tray, place it in the Varoma and set the Varoma on the Thermomix. Cook 5 minutes/Varoma/speed 2.
- Transfer the dumplings to a serving plate and spoon the dressing over. Scatter with the spring onions.
AND … The three components can be made ahead of time but once the dumplings are made they are best cooked straight away so they don’t become soggy.