Welcome the Year of the Tiger with fortune cookies and dumplings

Pot stickers or Chinese filled dumplings with a dipping sauce

Pot stickers or Chinese filled dumplings with a dipping sauce - Credit: Kerstin Rodgers

The Chinese New Year - the Year of the Tiger  - starts on February 1 so here are a couple of recipes to try for the festival, which lasts until February 15. Fortune cookies are synonymous with Chinese restaurants although they originated in Japan as a "tea cake" and are in fact an American adaptation. In baking terms, the recipe makes a folded "tuile" with a paper message or fortune inserted.

They aren't too hard to make and you can have extra fun by writing your own fortunes.

Home made fortune cookies for Chinese New Year 2022

Home made fortune cookies to celebrate Chinese New Year - Credit: Kerstin Rodgers

Fortune Cookies (Makes 16)

Parchment paper or a silicone mat
2 large egg whites
1 tsp orange-blossom water
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp sesame oil
80 g plain flour
1.5 tsp cornflour
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
120 g caster sugar
3 tsp water

Method: 

Preheat the oven to 170C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Write your fortunes on a piece of paper that should measure about 6cm x 1cm. Beat the egg whites, orange-blossom water and oils together in a bowl until frothy.

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Sift the flour, cornflour, salt and sugar into another bowl. Add the water to this mixture. Then add the egg mixture to the batter, stirring until smooth. Bake in 3 batches of 5 or 6 at a time. Place tablespoons of the batter on to the prepared baking sheet. Use the back of a metal spoon to swirl out the mixture into 10cm circles. Leave space between each as they will spread a little during cooking.

Bake for 10-12 minutes until light golden brown, then remove from the oven with a spatula. While the cookie is still soft and pliable, place a rolled up fortune in the centre of each one. Fold it in half and pinch the edges together to seal. Place the folded edge of the cookie over the rim of a cup and gently pull the corners down to form the classic fortune cookie shape. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

If the cookies have softened by the time you serve them, crisp them in the oven for a few minutes.

Pot Stickers

Chinese Pot Stickers - Credit: Kerstin Rodgers

Vegetarian Pot Sticker with dipping sauce (Makes 24)

Stuffed dumplings seem to exist in almost every cuisine. Japan has its gyoza, in Tibet they are momo, in Turkey "manti" and in Italy ravioli. Make sure the stuffing isn't too wet, give it a good squeeze before filling the dumplings. Don't overfill, only use a teaspoon in each. For dipping, you can make a sauce (plum, or chili crisp or Chinese black vinegar with sesame oil) or buy one from an Asian supermarket.

Ingredients:

3 tbsp sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Thumb fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp Chinese five-spice
1 tsp cornflour
200 g firm tofu, drained
4 spring onions, sliced, white and green parts set aside separately
250 g shiitake or other mushrooms, finely sliced. If using dry mushrooms, reduce to 80g and soak in hot water for an hour, then drain, reserving the water for cooking.
freshly ground white pepper
1 packet of 24 gyoza skins (round) or wonton wrappers (squares, cut into rounds for better pleating)
rice or plain flour for dusting
3 tbsps vegetable or groundnut oil for frying
Few drops toasted sesame oil for dressing

To serve:
Dipping sauce of your choice
Green part of the spring onions

For the filling:
Put the sesame oil, garlic, ginger, sugar, soy sauce, five-spice and cornflour into a hot wok or frying pan and sizzle for a couple of minutes. Drain and dice the tofu, then add to the wok and fry for 5 minutes. Add the white part of the spring onions, the mushrooms and fry for 3-5 minutes. They will release a lot of liquid.

Place a sieve over a bowl. Tip the mixture into the sieve and let the excess liquid drain out. Set aside as you can use this for the cooking.

To construct the dumplings:

Set up a stuffing station on a table: a small bowl of water, the gyoza skins, the cooled filling, a teaspoon and a tray sprinkled generously with flour so they don't stick.

Lay out a skin, dip your finger in the water and run it around the border of the circle. Put a teaspoon of the filling into the middle, then bring up the sides. Traditionally, you work from one side towards the middle, three pleats, then the other side, another three pleats. Only pleat one side, the other side will be flat. Press together to seal into crescent shape dumplings.

Set aside each dumpling on the floury tray until you have finished.

To cook:

Take a non-stick or seasoned cast iron frying pan and heat. Add a little cooking oil. Have a cup of the filling mixture water to hand and a tight-fitting lid or cover for the pan. Carefully lay the pot stickers in the pan (don't overcrowd) and fry for a couple of minutes until the bottom is a light golden colour.

Add 50ml/quarter cup of the liquid to the pan, then replace the lid or cover. Cook for a few minutes until the water has evaporated and bottom is lightly browned. Add a few drops of oil then serve with the green part of the spring onion and a dipping sauce.

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