In recent years, the Chinese cooking has become all the rage in all our cities. The Asian specialties they can be enjoyed in elegant restaurants, informal bars or as street food. And above all the ravioli, which in English are called dumplings (literally, "gnocchi"): dumplings with various shapes and fillings, always delicious. They are part of the so-called dim sum, small bites that in China can make up a rich breakfast or accompany tea. Transported in our tradition, they can also become the main course of an oriental menu home made. Because, with the right tips (and a few shortcuts!), They're not difficult to pack at home. So as to amaze guests by showing off new skills and flavors.
The most common one is generally made from wheat flour and water alone, although there are also versions based on starch, egg or colored by the addition of different ingredients. In most recipes, they make it floppy disks obtained with a technique that is the opposite of the Italian one. If we use to roll out the dough, then cut it into discs, Chinese cooks work it one ball at a time, which they roll out with a small rolling pin: in this way, it is possible to obtain a very thin sheet and avoid waste. If you still want to try your hand, here is the recipe and technique.
How to prepare the pasta. For about 20 ravioli, mix 200 g of Flour with about 100 ml of warm water, a tablespoon of oil delicate extra virgin olive oil (or peanuts) and a pinch of salt, until a soft and homogeneous mixture is obtained (you may need a little more water). Let it rest for half an hour, covered with plastic wrap.
How to roll out the dough. Form the dough into a roll and remove a piece the size of a walnut, leaving the rest covered by the film. Form one ball, press it lightly with your palm into a rather thick disk and roll it out: with one hand, roll the rolling pin, while with the other, rotate the disk, so as to maintain the round shape, until you obtain a sheet of about 8 cm in diameter, 2 mm thick. To prevent the dough from sticking, work on the surface floured or pass it slowly and rolling pin with a piece of kitchen paper anointed of oil.
The Chinese technique, which involves spreading and rotating the disk at the same time, requires a certain dexterity. Of course, nothing prevents you from proceeding "Italian" using the pasta machine and cutting the sheet obtained with one stencil about 8 cm in diameter. You can reshuffle and rewrite the clippings to reduce waste as much as possible. Even easier? in all Asian stores they sell packets of frozen sheets, square or round, ready to be filled.
The colored pastes
The colorful bundles are very fashionable in the trendiest restaurants. A delicate color yellow it is obtained by adding a carrot boiled and pureed or a tip of turmeric. The green is obtained, as for our lasagna, thanks to a handful of spinach, also boiled, well squeezed and blended, the Red with juice of beet. For a black decided add the base with a spoonful of cuttlefish ink: you will get a perfect pasta for delicate sea fillings.
The most classic filling, found in all restaurants, mixes pork meat (not too lean: the ideal would be with a quantity of fat equal to about 50%) e shrimp pulp. They are combined with the dough Chinese cabbage, spring onions, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil and spices. But just like our filled pasta recipes, the variations are almost infinite and can be based on beef, veal, duck, lamb, chicken, shellfish or simply vegetables, for example carrots, mushrooms and bamboo.
After placing the filling, and before sealing, moisten the edge of the dough with a finger dipped in water, which will help attach the edges. Depending on how they are closed, Chinese dumplings take different names.
They are called jiaozi those in the shape of a crescent, also similar in name to gyoza Japanese. They can have the edge simply sealed, leaving it smooth, or folded in dense folds.
The shao mai they are baskets left open that allow you to glimpse the contents.
THE wonton they are bundles obtained from square sheets: the flaps are gathered on the filling and sealed in a sort of tuft.
The shao long bao they are rounded little bags closed with dense folds.
The most delicate ravioli are cooked steam powered: the traditional ones bamboo baskets, placed on a wok with 2-3 fingers of water, they give a jiaozi, shao mai And shao long bao a pleasant hint of wood but can be replaced with the common steel baskets of a normal one steamer. The bottom of the wooden baskets is protected with special perforated discs of baking paper (they can be bought in oriental products stores) or simply with cabbage or lettuce leaves. After steaming, i jiaozi can be passed on one plate very hot (sometimes in restaurants they are called "braised") to form a crunchy crust, even more golden if they are fried for a few moments in very hot oil, on one side only, taking the name of guotie. THE wonton they are steamed or boiled in water and served in broth, but there are also versions deep fried in which the ravioli are fried immersed in abundant oil.
How they are served
The traditional accompaniment is a few drops of soy sauce. Some recipes (especially if fried or grilled) go well with the sweet and sour sauce, even spicy. While the more delicate shrimp-only ravioli are dipped in a mix of soy and black rice vinegar, similar to our balsamic vinegar.
Once you have learned the technique, it's time to put it into practice with the recipes we have selected for you. Unless otherwise noted, use the base paste (for about 20 ravioli) that we have told you about. Or, in all cases, the ready-to-use frozen sheets.
Grilled Jiaozi. Mix 250 g of pork meat ground with 50 g of prawns (weight already shelled) chopped. Join one carrot and 2 spring onions, chopped in the mixer, a pinch of mix 5 Chinese spices (mixture of anise, Sichuan pepper, cinnamon, cloves and powdered fennel seeds, can be purchased in Asian stores), 100 g of Chinese cabbage in very fine julienne, 2 cm of ginger fresh peeled and grated, a teaspoon of sesame oil and 2 tablespoons of soy sauce. Cover and leave to rest for 30 minutes in the fridge. Divide the filling on 20 ravioli discs and close them in a half-moon shape (to taste, creating folds on the edge). Steam them for about 13-14 minutes, until the pasta begins to become almost transparent. Grease the bottom of a large non-stick pan with a veil of sesame or peanut oil, heat well and pass the ravioli 1-2 minutes, on one side only. For 4 people.
Shrimp and mushroom wonton in broth. Beat in a bowl a egg with 50 ml of water, add 150 g of Flour and work the mixture until you get a smooth and elastic paste (add, if necessary, more water a little at a time). Wrap it in cling film and let it rest for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, soften 20 g of dried mushrooms (shiitake, without the stems, or local mixed mushrooms). Squeeze and chop with 400 g of prawns (weight already shelled) and 3 spring onions (white only, but keep the more tender green stems aside). Season with salt, pepper and add half a teaspoon of ginger fresh grated. Roll out the dough to a thickness of 1-2 mm and cut into squares of 8-9 cm on each side. Fill them each with a teaspoon of filling and close into a bundle, sealing well. Steam the ravioli for 5 minutes and serve in small bowls with chicken broth hot (one liter in all), the green of the spring onions and a grind of pepper. For 4 people.
Shao mai with beef and chives. Chop 20 g of chives and mix it with 250 g of beef ground (not overly lean), a egg beaten, a tablespoon of soy sauce, a pinch of sugar, the tip of a teaspoon of potato starch, a thread of sesame oil, one of wine of Chinese rice (or white wine), salt and pepper. Spread the filling into balls on 20 ravioli discs and close the dough around the basket, leaving it open at the top. Steam the ravioli for about 10 minutes. For 4 people.
Francesca Romana Mezzadri