Here comes one of my “signature dishes”, as a real chef would call it. Well, I’m not a real chef, just an amateur cook; but as you all know too well, amateurs happen to be ambitious. Well, the following recipe is not a big challenge although there’s some work involved. Still, preparation shouldn’t take much longer than 45 minutes. You’ll need a steaming pot to succeed, cheap models are at hand in any decent Asian supermarket.
- 4 fresh (raw) pork sausages, bratwurst style, when in France go for saucisses de Toulouse
- 1 Chinese cabbage
- 4 tblsps soy sauce
- 3 tblsps sesame oil
- 2 tblsps fish sauce
- 1 tblsp finely chopped (or grated) ginger
- 1 tblsp finely chopped garlic
- Sichuan pepper
For the dipping sauce:
- 1 spring onion
- 6 tsps soy sauce
- 3 tsps rice vinegar
- 3 tsps fish sauce
- juice of 1 lemon
- some brown (or palm) sugar
Heat water in a large pot and add 2 tblsps of salt.
Prepare the filling: slice the sausages, pull out the sausage meat with your hands and fill in a large bowl. Add 4 tblsps of soy sauce, the sesame oil, the fish sauce, the ginger, the garlic and powdered Sichuan pepper as much as you like. Mix well and put aside, let marinate for the next minutes.
Take the cabbage apart, carefully and leave by leave. You’ll want them as wrappers, so they have to stay pretty much intact. When you reach the point, that the leaves become too small for wrapping, stop. Once the water boils, bring the big cabbage leaves into the pot. Cook for 2-3 minutes to soften the leaves. In the meantime, chop the cabbage left-overs into very small pieces and add to the sausage meat filling, mix again.
Take out the cabbage leaves, cool under running cold water to stop the cooking process. Spread out on a towel. This is, roughly, what you should see at this point:
You’ll find that the upper parts of the cabbage leaves are thin and very soft, whereas the lower parts are still quite firm and fleshy. You don’t like that. You take a knife and fix it:
Now start the filling process. It’s not rocket science, it just needs some concentration: Put some spiced sausage meat on a leave and roll it like the Cubans their cigars, quite firmly. Don’t forget to fold the outer parts to the center. Complicated? Not if you look at the following pictures. Step 1:
Don’t forget to fold the outer parts to the center and proceed to step 3:
Now step back for a second, look at your work and take some pride in what you see:
But hey!? What about the filling in the bowl to the right? Don’t worry, it’ll make a great variation of our cross-over theme. We’ll serve them as meat balls, for a change. And we’re already near the finish line now. Take a big steamer (I’ve bought mine – a two-storey-monster – in a Chinese supermarket for 35 Euros). Fill in water and bring to boiling. In the meantime, arrange the dumplings for steaming. They’re looking ever better:
As soon as the water in the steamer is boiling, put the dumplings on top and cover. Number one:
And number two on top:
Cover and cook for 10 minutes. That’s enough time to prepare the dipping sauce. Mix all ingredients as indicated above, then chop and add the spring onion:
That’s it! You’re done! You can jump back to the top of this page to see what you’ve done! Call the people to report at the table immediately and open a bottle of wine, white by preference: a Chardonnay would be fine, a Silvaner fits well, but whatever it is, it should have some substance (and be cold). Green tea would make a good companion, too. Bon appétit!