Karena Armstrong’s dumplings have been famous since they first appeared on the menu of her McLaren Vale restaurant, The Salopian Inn, in 2013.

The South Australian chef “fell in love” with the pillowy morsels while working under Kylie Kwong at Billy Kwong in Sydney, and they’ve since become a signature dish on her own menu.

“Dumplings bring joy to those who make them and the crowds who get to devour them,” says Armstrong, who’s also worked at Icebergs in Sydney and The Lake House in Victoria. We wholeheartedly agree.

This variation is filled with pork mince (Armstrong currently uses meat from SA producer Beachport Berkshires) and kimchi (cabbage or radish), and served with a fiery, garlicky soy-and-vinegar dipping sauce. “Ask your butcher to make sure the mince is about 20 per cent fat,” advises Armstrong. “Minced belly is a good ratio of fat to meat.”

She makes the wrappers from scratch in her restaurant, but recommends store-bought for beginners. “Chinatown has a great selection, but we buy the [Adelaide-produced] Tong Phat round wrappers to use for this style of boiled or soup dumplings.”

“If you want to steam the dumplings you must make your own pastry,” she adds. “Start with a small amount of filling and get your rhythm, and then as you speed up add more filling. A pillow-like dumpling is the goal.”

Karena Armstrong’s Pork and Kimchi Dumplings
Makes 60 dumplings
Preparation time: 45 minutes
Cooking time: 6 minutes

Ingredients
60 pieces of dumpling wrapper

Mixture
500g pork mince
100g kimchi (cabbage or radish)
5 spring onion stems
30g ginger
10ml pure sesame oil
20ml soy sauce
40ml mushroom soy
Pinch of ground white pepper
5g caster sugar

Sauce
8 garlic cloves
10g chilli flakes
100ml rice-bran oil
80ml rice-wine vinegar
60ml mushroom soy
120ml soy sauce
30ml lime juice

Method

Place the pork mince into a bowl and chill in the fridge.

Finely chop the kimchi. Finely slice the spring onions. Peel and grate the ginger finely (a microplane is helpful).

Bring the pork out of the fridge and add the ginger and kimchi. Then add the sesame, soy, mushroom soy, pepper and sugar. With clean hands, mix the pork mince mixture until it’s very sticky, about 5 minutes. Put the mix back in the fridge.

To make the dipping sauce, add the oil and chilli flakes to a small saucepan. Finely chop the garlic and set aside. Heat the oil until you hear the chilli flakes sizzle. Then add the chopped garlic and turn off the heat. The garlic should only be golden brown, so if it’s all getting too hot, just strain the chilli flakes and garlic out of the oil and add back when cool. Allow the oil, chilli and garlic mix to cool. Stir in all the other ingredients and set aside.

To fold the dumplings, get a small container of water and a teaspoon. Spoon about ⅔ teaspoon of filling onto a wrapper. Wet one side of the wrapper and fold over the filling to create a semi-circle. From the left side, pinch and pleat just one side of the wrapper connecting the folds to the second side as you go. Make sure the wrapper is well-sealed and set onto a lightly greased tray.

The dumplings can be frozen at this stage or left in the fridge for up to 2 days in a well-sealed container.

To cook the dumplings, bring a large pot of water to the boil and simmer the dumplings for 3–4 minutes. Serve with lashings of dressing and a sprinkle of sea salt.

salopian.com.au