Steamed Japanese Yam and Duck Dumplings

From Our Table To Yours

Steamed Japanese Yam and Duck Dumplings

Dumplings are among the more universally beloved foods, thanks in large part to the variety of ingredients that can be used to make dumplings. Japanese cuisine afficionados should consider the following recipe for ‘Steamed Japanese Yam and Duck Dumplings’ from Takashi Sugimoto and Marcia Iwatate’s ‘Shunju: New Japanese Cuisine’ (Periplus). Steamed Japanese Yam and Duck Dumplings Serves 4 2 lbs. yama imo (Japanese yam); substitute with Chinese yam (but not Western potato), peeled and cut in 1/2-inch slices 2 egg whites Vegetable oil 4 ounces coarsely ground duck breast 3-1/2 ounces maitake (hen-ofthe- woods fungus); substitute with any kind of meaty fungus, stems and roots discarded 12 ginkgo nuts, shelled and boiled with a pinch of salt, thick skin removed (see note) 3-1/2 tablespoons loikuchi shoyu (soy sauce) 3-1/2 tablespoons mirin 1-1/4 cups katsuo dashi (bonito stock) (see box) Pinch finely chopped yuzu (Japanese citron) peel 1 teaspoon katakuri starch, substitute with potato starch dissolved in 1 teaspoon water 1 teaspoon usukuchi shoyu (light soy sauce) Pinch natural sea salt 1. Steam yama imo slices for 10 minutes over high heat Mash over a sieve. Transfer to a bowl, add egg whites and a pinch of sea salt, and mix thoroughly.

2. Heat vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium heat and saute the ground duck. When the duck is lightly browned, add fungus and ginkgo nuts.

3. Stir in soy sauce, mirin, 1/2 cup of the bonito stock, and yuzu peel. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, and add half of the dissolved starch mixture. Set this filling mixture aside.

4. Divide the mashed yama imo into four portions and make four patties. Spoon on quarter of the filling into the center of the patty and roll into a ball. Place the ball into a piece of cheesecloth and twist the top. Remove from cloth. Steam the dumplings for about 5 minutes.

5. Bring remaining bonito stock, light soy sauce and pinch of sea salt to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add remaining starch mixture and remove from heat when sauce is slightly thickened.

6. Spoon the sauce over the steamed dumplings.

Note: An easier way to remove ginkgo skins is to cover them with boiling water and 1/3 teaspoon baking soda and stir vigorously. Drain and rinse well.

Katsuo Dashi

1/2 ounce dashi konbu (dried kelp) 4 cups water 5 cups dried bonito flakes, without bloodline 1. Gently wipe the sheet of konbu with a clean damp cloth or paper towel to remove the grit. The flavorful white powder on the surface should not be wiped off. Place konbu in a pot with the water.

2. Heat the water and konbu over medium-high heat. When the surface starts to foam, slightly lower the heat.

3. Just before the water reaches a full boil, remove konbu and reserve. Boiling konbu imparts a bitter flavor. Skim the foam off the surface with a ladle.

4. Add dried bonito flakes.

5. When the water starts to boil, lower the heat and maintain a wavering surface. Simmer for 5 or 6 minutes skimming the foam off the surface with a ladle.

6. Turn off the heat.

7. When the bonito flakes sink to the bottom, immediately strain in a sieve lined with sarashi (a kind of thin cotton cloth) or paper towel.