Cook with Metrolink: Pretzel Pork-and-Chive Dumplings
Today is April 26: National Pretzel Day! You have your hard-textured snack pretzels and your traditional ball park-style pretzels. And who can forget the Wetzel’s Pretzels at L.A. Union Station? To celebrate this holiday, we found a recipe that gives a different opportunity to shake up how you’ve enjoyed pretzel flavors typically. Top Chef all-star Dave Talde takes a traditional pork dumpling and pretzel-ifies it!
WHAT YOU NEED
- Food-safe brush
- Parchment paper
- 1 cup + 4 tbsp vegetable oil, divided
- 3/4 cup thinly sliced chives (preferably Chinese)
- 1 1/2 pounds fresh pork belly, ground and cold (or other fatty ground pork)
- 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
- 1 tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tbsp + 2 tbsp Asian sesame oil, divided
- 1 tsp potato starch or cornstarch
- 2 tsp kosher salt, divided
- 2 tsp granulated sugar, divided
- 1 tsp chicken bouillon
- 1/2 tsp ground white pepper
- 36 wonton wrappers (round), preferably “Shanghai style”
- 4 qts water
- 3 tbsp baking soda
- 3 egg yolks, beaten
- 1 stick (1/4 pound) unsalted butter, melted
- 1/4 cup pretzel salt
- 1/2 cup hot Chinese mustard (or Dijon)
- 2 tbsp well-stirred tahini
- 2 tbsp unseasoned rice vinegar
- For the filling: heat 2 tbsp vegetable oil in a medium pan over medium-high heat. Add the chives and cook, stirring, just until they’re wilted and very fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Let them cool slightly. Combine the pork in a mixing bull with the chives, ginger, soy sauce, 1 tbsp Asian sesame oil, potato starch, 1 tsp kosher salt, 1 tsp granulated sugar, chicken bouillon and white pepper. Mix gently but thoroughly with your hands until everything is well distributed. Don’t overmix or the filling will become too dense.
- To form the dumplings: line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Fill a small bowl with water. Form the dumplings one at a time, keeping the yet-to-be-used wonton wrappers under a damp towel. Put a dumpling wrapper on the work surface. Add a slightly mounded tbsp of the pork mixture to the center. Dip your finger into the water and use it to moisten the edge of the wrapper, then pinch and slightly flatten the filling to form a log shape. Fold the wrapper to form a semi-circle. Firmly press the two edges together, leaving both sides open. Holding the pinched edge with one hand, invert the dumpling. Use the other hand to push the rounded bottom of an open end so it meets the pinched edge and very firmly pinch those closed. Force out the air from the pocket you created, then do the same to close the other open end. Make sure all the edges are very tightly sealed. If they won’t seal, try moistening the edges with a little more water. Transfer the dumpling to the prepared baking sheet and repeat the process with the remaining filling and wrappers.
- To par-cook the dumplings: this step gives the dumplings the pretzel-like chew and aroma. Combine the water and baking soda in a large pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Line a large baking sheet or plate with parchment paper.
- Working in three batches, boil the dumplings until their filling springs back when you squeeze it, 4 to 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon to transfer the dumplings to the prepared baking sheet as they’re done.
- Brush the dumplings all over with the egg yolk (or drizzle and rub with a spoon to coat), then do the same with the melted butter. Let the dumplings sit for at least 2 hours or in the fridge, uncovered, for a day or two. The longer the better.
- To finish the dumplings: preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Put a paper towel-lined baking sheet in there, so you have a place to keep finished dumplings warm while you make the rest.
- Cook the dumplings in several batches to avoid crowding the skillet: Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat and add enough oil to reach a depth of about 1/4 inch (about 1 cup). As soon as the oil shimmers, arrange some of the dumplings in a single layer, leaving some breathing room between them. Cook, using tongs to turn them occasionally, until you see golden-brown blisters on all three sides, about 5 minutes total. Sprinkle on about 1 tbsp of the pretzel salt, toss, and transfer the dumplings to the oven to keep them warm. Add enough oil to maintain the 1/4-inch depth, let it shimmer, and repeat with the remaining dumplings and salt.
- For Tahini-Mustard Dipping Sauce: combine the hot mustard, tahini, rice vinegar, 2 tbsp vegetable oil, 2 tbsp Asian sesame oil, 1 tsp granulated sugar and 1 tsp kosher salt into a bowl and stir really well.