Pan-fried Dumplings with Pork and Zucchini

中文菜谱: 鲜肉西葫芦煎饺

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Zucchini became an important vegetable when we were still living in a small town in Michigan.  We were far away from Asian grocery stores.  So I shop at the local farmer market a lot to get fresh produce and sometimes grass fed steaks, which, by the way, were super tasty and amazing. 

Leafy greens thrived in early summer.  When July came, most vegetable booths begin to sell local zucchinis, peppers, potatoes and corns. 

That was when I bought so many zucchinis and learned to develop different ways to cook them.  Besides stir fried zucchini, my favorite way is to dry them first a little, chop them up and then put into dumplings.

Chinese dumplings are like Italian pasta.  The ingredient and flavor combinations are endless.  Any ordinary ingredient like zucchini could be used in dumpling fillings and shine like a flavor star. 

Ingredients:

1 lb pork shoulder
5 to 6 zucchinis
1 pack of dumpling wraps (sold in frozen food section in most Asian grocery stores)
1 tablespoon rice cooking wine
1 to 2 teaspoon oyster sauce
1/4  teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4  to 1/2 teaspoon corn starch
1/4  teaspoon ground ginger
1 stalks of green onions, chopped
Chicken broth/ water  
salt to taste
cooking oil
white sesame seeds
water/ egg wash (for dumpling wrapping)


Directions:

Thinly slice the zucchinis.  Use a food dehydrator to partially dry the zucchinis slices just until they are dry to touch and the edges begin to wrinkle. 

If you don’t have a food dehydrator available, air dry and sundry methods are both ok too.

Grind the pork shoulder with a meat grinder.  If you don’t have a meat grinder, remember to ask for help to do so in the store, or you can also buy the ground pork.

Add ground pork to a medium bowl, along with ground white pepper, oyster sauce, rice cooking wine, ground ginger, and corn starch.  Whisk with a pair of chopsticks or a wooden spoon.  Gradually add chicken stock/water while whisking.  The more and harder you whisk, the tender and more elastic the ground pork filling will be. 

Use a food processor to finely chop the zucchini slices. 

Add to the ground pork mixture.

Add salt to taste.  Mix with a pair of chopsticks until well combined.

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Brush the dumpling wrapper’s edge with a little water or egg wash. 

Add a couple tablespoons’ pork filling to its center.

Wrap it up.

Repeat the process until all the dumplings are finished.

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Heat a small cast iron skillet over medium high heat.  Add 1 to 2 tablespoons oil, and then about 10 dumplings.  Use more oil and a larger pan if you want to cook more than 10 dumplings at a time. 

Pan-fry the dumplings for a couple minutes. 

Add 1/3 cup of water.  Cover with lid immediately after adding water to the pan.

When all the water evaporates, reduce the heat to medium low.  Sprinkle with remaining chopped green onions and white sesame seeds on top.

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The bottoms of dumplings are golden brown.

Remove from heat and serve them hot immediately.

There two of my personal dipping sauces for pan-fried dumplings.  One is a combination of chili oil sauce + soy sauce + balsamic vinegar.  The other is sriracha sauce hot chili sauce.

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The crunchy golden bottoms of the dumplings are the best part! 

Zucchini’s flavor really stands out in the dumplings.  The fillings taste juicy, tender and with a significant sweetness from zucchinis.  Yum!