Lemon chicken dumplings

Fried chicken drenched in a sweet and tangy lemon sauce is a Chinese-Australian tradition known as lemon chicken. It’s a retro staple on suburban and regional Chinese restaurants across the country. Inspired by this old school classic, I’ve turned this dish into a pan fried dumpling but with the added kick of a chilli oil dressing.

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If you have time, I encourage you to make dumpling wrappers from scratch. The texture is really worth all the effort. I’ve made dumpling dough before and once took over a friend’s kitchen for hours, making dumplings like a woman possessed. My friends tried to persuade me to relax and watch TV but ended up retreating from the crazy-eyed lunatic in the kitchen. They were rewarded with bags of homemade dumplings in their freezer.

Chicken, black fungus and lemon zest

Chicken, black fungus and lemon zest

For an easy weekday dinner however, fresh gow gee wrappers from the Asian supermarket are perfect. A single packet serves about four people, allocating about 8 dumplings per person. The filling is pretty simple with chicken, shredded black fungus, spring onion and the all important lemon zest. I concocted a simple chilli oil with dried chillis and sichuan pepper to dress over my crispy bottomed dumplings. I love the layering of lemon with the numbing, citrus-y sichuan pepper.

The money shot! A crispy bottom is what you're looking for.

The money shot! A crispy bottom is what you’re looking for.

A bunch of wilted greens and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice on top finished it all off. There’s some sugar mixed into the filling for the mild sweetness that echoes the original sugary lemon inspiration. Deep frying these babies would have been more like ‘proper’ lemon chicken but it didn’t seem like a very healthy dinner choice. Besides, who deep fries a batch of dumplings to eat at home alone?

Feeds: Four moderately hungry people (or two piggies)
Start cooking: 1 hour before eating

Lemon chicken dumplings

Ingredients:

  • 400 grams x chicken mince
  • 1 cup x black fungus, fresh or reconstituted
  • Zest x 1-2 lemons (to taste)
  • 2 sprigs x spring onion
  • 2 tablespoons x lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons x sugar
  • 1 tablespoon x sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon x salt
  • 1 teaspoon x cornflour
  • 1/2 teaspoon x white pepper
  • 1 packet x gow gee wrappers (round dumpling wrappers)

Chilli oil

  • 1 cup x vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons x sichuan pepper
  • 4 tablespoons x dried chilli flakes
  • 4 tablespoons x light soy sauce

Method:

  1. Remove the hard centre of each piece of black fungus and discard. Finely shred the black fungus and place into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Finely slice the spring onion into 2mm slivers. Add to the black fungus.
  3. Zest 1-2 lemons until you have two tablespoons of lemon zest, making sure to avoid the bitter pith.
  4. Add the chicken mince, sesame oil, white pepper, lemon juice, sugar, lemon zest and cornflour to the black fungus and spring onion, mixing evenly.
  5. Create a cornflour slurry with a tablespoon of cornflour mixed with a tablespoon of water in a small bowl.
  6. Open the packet of gow gee wrappers.
  7. Place a tablespoon of filling in the middle of a single wrapper. Dab your finger into the cornflour slurry and moisten the outer edge of a half of the dough circle.
  8. Bring up the wrapper around the filling, pinching at the top and then pleating folds inwards towards the centre from each side.
  9. Continue until all of the filling is used up.
  10. To make the chilli oil, heat up the vegetable oil in a small pan over medium heat.Once hot, add the chilli flakes, salt and sichuan pepper. Once it starts to sizzle, turn off the heat and allow to infuse uncovered for 10 minutes. Allow to cool for a further 10 minutes for stirring in the light soy sauce. Strain some of the chilli/peppers out if desired before using. This will make far more than needed for a batch of dumplings. The chilli will keep well for at least a fortnight in an airtight jar if stored in a cool, dark place.
  11. To cook the dumplings, heat up a non-stick frying pan (that has a lid) over medium heat with a scant tablespoon of vegetable oil. Place enough dumplings in a single layer so there’s still a little room as they’ll swell slightly as they cook. Let the dumplings pan fry for 90 seconds and then pour in 1/3 cup of hot water and clamp on the lid. Let it cook undisturbed for 4 minutes before lifting the lid and letting the water evaporate and for the bottom of the dumplings to become crisp and golden brown. This will take a further 2-3 minutes.
  12. Serve dumplings drizzled with the chilli oil dressing. I recommend some wilted greens and a wedge of lemon on the side.
In the frying pan

In the frying pan

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