Beer Dumplings

Cooking with Beer by | Apr 2012 | Issue #63

Photo by Sean Z. Paxton

Dumplings can range from simple to complex in flavor, texture and ingredients. Influenced by international cuisines, these versatile pouches come in many shapes and sizes and can be steamed, boiled or fried. They can also be prepared in advance, frozen or made the day of, and they suit every occasion, from a large gathering to an intimate dim sum party. Here are a few recipes that use a variety of beers as an ingredient that’s showcased in the final dumplings.

Pork Stout Ginger and Garlic Dumplings
The roasty Stout flavors pair well with the sweet pork filling that incorporates a pop of ginger and garlic, while supporting the umami-rich soy sauce. This is a classic filling for fried wontons or steamed dumplings, and can also be used in a broth to make a wonton soup.

Makes: about 45–50 dumplings

5 tbsp Oatmeal Stout, such as Velvet Merlin from Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
1 tbsp corn starch
2 tbsp green onion, tops, sliced fine
1 tbsp ginger, fresh, grated fine
1 tbsp garlic, fresh, minced
2 tsp tamari or soy sauce
1 tsp salt, kosher
1 lb. pork, ground coarse or fine
50 each wonton skins*
egg wash [see below]

Prepare a sheet tray lined with parchment paper or wax paper lightly dusted with some corn starch to prevent sticking (dumplings will be set on this during prep). This is a good technique to use when making many dumplings at a time.

In a medium-size bowl, add the Stout and corn starch, mixing until the corn starch is blended in. Add the green onions, ginger, garlic, tamari and salt, mixing to combine. Depending on the desired finished texture of the dumpling, one can use a coarser grind of pork to give a more sausage like-bite, or a finer grind to make the filling more like an emulsified hot dog smoothness and have the green onions, garlic and ginger create the pop and texture. Mix in the pork until fully combined.

To Make Wonton Dumplings:
Place the wonton skin onto a work surface. Brush the edges with some of the egg wash. Place a little more than a teaspoon of the filling into the center of the wrapper. Fold the opposite corner to its counterpoint to create a triangle. Place the outside edges of your index fingers on each of the two cut edges of the triangle and roll inwards, removing any air and sealing the triangle dumpling.

Next, brush one corner (the crease and edge) with some of the egg wash, and fold the opposite corner over and onto the filling pillow. Now press the coated corner onto the other corner, and a wonton/tortellini has been created. Set on prepared sheet tray, and repeat.

To Cook Wonton:

  • Steam: Place onto a lightly oiled steamer, about one inch apart, and steam for 6-8 minutes, until the skin is almost transparent and slightly shriveled.
  • Fry: Heat peanut oil or fat (duck or pork) to 350˚F. Add five to eight at a time to the hot oil (making sure not to drop the temperature too much), and fry on one side for 2–3 minutes, or until golden brown. Flip each with tongs or a skimmer, fry another 2–3 minutes and remove to a paper bag topped with some paper towels to soak up any extra oil. Serve hot with Stout Soy Dipping Sauce.
  • Soup: Make a beer dashi or chicken/vegetable stock that is just at a simmer, and add the stuffed wontons along with any vegetables (like sliced carrots, snap peas, enoki/shitake mushrooms or baby spinach leaves) and poach for 7–8 minutes. Serve with an Asian spoon.

Egg Wash
Used to create a seal or glue for dumplings.

1 each egg, large
1 each egg yolk, large
1 tbsp beer, water or milk

In a small bowl, crack the egg and add the extra yolk; whisk to make a rich yellow mixture. Use a pastry brush or a dipped clean finger to apply.

Photo by Sean Z. Paxton

Photo by Sean Z. Paxton

Prawn Double Red Ale Siu Mai Dumplings
Siu mai are open-faced Cantonese-style dumplings, almost like a basket in design, as the wrapper just holds the exposed filling.

Makes: around 40 dumplings, serving 6–8 per person

1 each egg white, jumbo
4 tbsp Double Red Ale, like Believer from Ninkasi Brewing Co.
1 tsp tamari or soy sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil, toasted
1 tbsp corn starch
1 tsp ginger, fresh, grated fine
1 tsp garlic, fresh, minced
2 tsp salt, kosher
1 lb. prawns, shelled and de-veined
2 tbsp cilantro, minced
40 each sue gow wraps* or wonton wrappers cut into circles
egg wash and pastry brush

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade attachment, add the egg white and pulse to froth lightly. Add the Double Red Ale, tamari (or soy sauce) and sesame oil. Pulse a few times to mix well. Add the corn starch, ginger, garlic, salt and prawns to the bowl. Pulse several times to chop and purée the prawns into a paste-like consistency. Some of the prawns can also be reserved and hand diced, and then folded into the filling, giving more texture to the finished dumpling. The addition of the egg white will give a silky texture while tightening the filling, making it hold better. Transfer the processed filling to a bowl or sealable container, and fold in the remaining cilantro. This filling can be made up to two days in advance.

To Make Siu Mai Dumplings:
If sue gow wraps are not available, try using a 22-ounce bottle bottom as a template, and cut circles out of wonton wraps. Dip a pastry brush in the egg wash and lightly paint around the edges of the wrapper. Place about a tablespoon of the prepared filling into the center of the circular wrapper. Position the wrapper in the center of your palm. Cup your palm and, using your free hand, lightly squeeze the edges of the wrap together; press the upper portion of the wrap to create folds close together, but don’t completely seal. Place the finished purse or basket onto the prepared sheet tray (see directions above), and repeat.

To Cook Siu Mai Dumplings:
Place the prepared dumplings into a steamer lightly coated in oil to prevent sticking, spacing about 1 inch apart. Depending on the filling, steam these Siu Mai for 8–10 minutes, until the wrapper is almost transparent and the filling has changed color. Serve immediately.

Chicken Kimchi Saison Dumplings
This filling has more of a Korean influence, as it uses kimchi, a fermented and heavily seasoned cabbage. The spicy flavors mingle with the ester profile of a Saison to create magic on the palate.

Makes: 40–45 dumplings, enough for 4–6 people

4 tbsp Saison, such as Saison Rue from The Bruery or Saison Dupont
1 tsp tamari or soy sauce
2 tbsp corn starch
5 tbsp kimchi*, spicy, chopped fine
2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
1 tsp ginger, fresh, grated fine
1 tsp garlic, fresh, minced
2 tsp salt, kosher
1 lb. chicken or turkey thighs, ground
45 each sue gow wraps* or wonton wrappers* cut into circles

In a medium-size bowl, add the Saison, tamari (or soy sauce) and corn starch, mixing until combined. Add in the kimchi, cilantro, ginger, garlic and salt, mixing again to combine. Next, add in the poultry and blend well, until the seasoning is evenly distributed throughout the mixture. This filling can be made up to two days in advance. If using that day, refrigerate for at least an hour before making the dumplings.

To Make Half Moon Dumplings:
Place the sue gow skin onto a work surface. Brush the edges with egg wash. Place about a teaspoon of the filling into the center of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper in half and, using your pinkies, make a pillow around the filling, pressing out as much air as possible. Press the edges together to seal in the filling. Repeat.

To Cook:
Follow the directions for the Siu Mai Dumplings if steaming, or fry dumplings like a wonton.

Stout Soy Dipping Sauce
While dumplings are tasty on their own, throwing in a great sauce will add extra dimension to the dish.

Makes: about 1/3 cup, enough for 6 people

1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce, low sodium
3 tbsp Oatmeal Stout, like Anderson Valley Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout
1 tbsp garlic chili sauce*
1 tsp honey
1 tsp ginger, fresh, grated fine
1 tsp garlic, fresh, minced

In a small bowl, mix together the tamari, Stout, garlic chili sauce, honey, ginger and garlic. Mix well until the honey is dissolved. If a spicier dipping sauce is desired, a teaspoon to a tablespoon of Sriracha sauce can be added. This sauce can be made in advance and will last several days refrigerated.

* Available at an Asian or international food market, or in the specialty aisle at most grocery stores