Chow Bella

Do It Yourself Dumplings: Shopping for Ingredients at the "Super L" Asian market

Dumplings. Potstickers. Gyoza. Jiao-zi. Whatever you want to call 'em--there's only one way to describe these plump, succulent, steamy little treats: absolutely delicious.

So on a recent Sunday, armed with a traditional Chinese recipe for shrimp, pork and chive dumplings, we thought we'd try making a batch from scratch.

One of the hardest parts of cooking ethnic foods is finding ingredients. Most western markets don't have them, and those that do often charge way too much. Luckily, we do have Asian markets here in Phoenix-- most notably, Lee Lee's, and the market by the Chinese Cultural Center, the Super L. Just a quick stroll down the aisle of the Super L reveals all sorts of quirky rarities--fresh octopus and squid, chicken feet and fresh fish balls.

We made a beeline for the produce aisle. Here, we were able to buy two thick bundles of fresh chives for under $1.25 (at AJ's it costs about $1.99 for about four strands). They also have about two dozen different types of pre-made dumpling and gyoza wrappers. We used the Wing Hing brand, but will probably try another next time--they were too thin and prone to breaking.

Once we got home, it only took a few minutes to chop all the ingredients for the filling (a little longer to shell the shrimp), and toss them into a bowl with a little soy sauce, sesame oil and rice-wine vinegar. Folding the dumplings, on the other hand, took about two hours. If you're a beginner, you probably want to throw on a movie to keep you company--it'll probably take about that long.

Still, the tasty, bite-sized morsels--dunked in a dip made of soy sauce and rice wine vinegar--more than made up for the effort. Yum!

RECIPE: Pork, shrimp and chive dumplings (makes about 60): 2 bundles of chives 1 lb of ground pork 1 lb raw, shelled shrimp 1 package of dumpling wrappers (2 if you want to double-wrap them) 2 tbsp soy sauce 2 tbsp white wine vinegar 1 tbsp sesame oil chicken broth (for boiling the dumplings)

Dipping sauce: 1/4 cup soy sauce 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar

Directions: Shell and chop shrimp, chop pork, and dice chives. Combine in a large mixing bowl. Toss filings with 2 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tbsp white wine vinegar and 1tbsp sesame oil. Fold into dumpling wrappers using this technique.

Boil in chicken broth until dumplings float (should take about 3-5 minutes.) Mix up dipping sauce and serve.