The cheat: dumpling wrappers

Author: Lisa Featherby
Photography: John-Paul Urizar

These handy wrappers for dim sum can also do double-duty as stand-ins for fresh pasta to make the likes of ravioli and tortellini.

When you stock up on Asian pantry staples, make sure dumpling wrappers are on the list. They keep in the fridge for about a week, and in the freezer for two months.

By no means should the creative cook constrain themselves to the wrappers' intended use; they're also handy for making filled fresh pasta such as ravioli or tortellini. They're also great coarsely torn and tossed in a sauce of, say, anchovies and herbs as a rag-type pasta dish.

Most dumpling wrappers are water- and flour-based, so they're light with no overpowering flavour. One of our favourites is pot-stickers, but you can also try make the open-faced siu mai dumplings or xiao long bao, Shanghai's famous soup-filled buns. For these, you'll need a gelatine-rich, chilled and set stock, which melts as the dumpling cooks. All great reasons for having a dumpling party, we say.

Artichoke and pecorino tortellini in tomato sauce
Makes 24
Combine 220gm coarsely chopped cooked artichoke hearts in a bowl with 50gm finely grated pecorino and 1 tsp finely chopped thyme, season to taste, then place 1 tsp at the centre of a gow gee wrapper (you'll need 24), brush around edge with water, fold over to form a half-moon, press edges to seal, brush one end with a little water, then pull the ends together and pinch to seal. Repeat with remaining mixture and wrappers. Heat 60ml (¼ cup) extra-virgin olive oil in a pan over medium heat, add 3 thinly shaved garlic cloves and 250gm halved cherry tomatoes, season and sauté, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes break down (4-5 minutes). Add 2 tbsp thyme and 2 tbsp thinly sliced basil, and keep warm. Cook tortellini in a saucepan of boiling water until skins are translucent (2-3 minutes), then drain well, toss through sauce and serve with extra grated pecorino.

Pork and chive pot-stickers (pictured)
Serves 4 as a shared dish
Combine 250gm minced pork with ¼ cup finely chopped chives, 1 tsp soy sauce, ½ tsp sesame oil, ½ tsp cornflour and 10gm finely grated ginger, season to taste with freshly ground white pepper. Working with one gow gee wrapper at a time (you'll need about 20), place 1 tsp pork mixture at the centre, brush edges with water, fold over, then pleat to seal. Place in a single layer in a large pan over high heat with 250ml water and 1 tbsp peanut oil, cover and cook until liquid evaporates and dumplings turn golden on the base (2-3 minutes). Serve with Chinkiang vinegar, ginger, chilli oil and soy sauce.

Ricotta ravioli with sage brown butter
Makes 16
Combine 300gm firm ricotta, 1 lightly beaten egg, 30gm finely grated parmesan, 40gm toasted pine nuts, finely grated rind of ½ lemon and a handful of torn oregano in a bowl and season. Place 1 tbsp mixture at the centre of a square egg pastry wrapper (you need 32 to make 16 ravioli). Brush edges with water, then place another wrapper on top and seal around filling, pressing out air. Repeat with remaining mixture and wrappers. Cook ravioli in a saucepan of salted boiling water until skins are translucent (2-3 minutes), then transfer to plates with a slotted spoon. Heat 100gm diced butter in a hot saucepan until nut-coloured (1-3 minutes), add 20 sage leaves (they'll crisp immediately) then spoon over ravioli. Serve with grated parmesan.

Chicken wontons
Makes 30
Combine 400gm coarsely minced chicken in a bowl with 1 finely chopped spring onion, 3 tsp oyster sauce, 1 tsp soy sauce, ½ tsp each sesame oil and finely grated ginger and season with white pepper. Place a heaped teaspoonful of filling at the centre of each wonton wrapper (you'll need 30), brush edges with water, fold to create a triangle enclosing filling and press to seal. Repeat with remaining mixture and wrappers. Steam or boil wontons until skins are translucent (2-4 minutes), and serve with soy sauce and chilli oil, or in a clear hot chicken broth.

Hot tips
+ To stop dumpling wrappers drying out as you work keep them covered with a damp tea towel, or wrap them in plastic wrap to refrigerate.

+ Dumpling wrappers keep really well frozen, so it's worth buying an extra packet when you're at your local Asian grocer. Just defrost them overnight in the refrigerator.

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