August 6, 2006

Chinatown, Tang Frères and Pork Dumplings

Paul and I had a really fun day recently going to Chinatown, specifically the area south of Place d'Italie. We ate lunch at a little place on Avenue d'Ivry, where we had many good looking restaurants to choose from. Chinatown in Paris isn't really strictly Chinese - you'll find a mix of countries represented at most restaurants. The one we chose had Laotian, Thai and Vietnamese specialties.We sat on the terrasse and drank our Chinese beers while we looked over the menu. Paul settled on a red curry with duck, peppers and pineapple chunks. I chose a rice noodle dish covered with curried beef, onions and some pickled vegetables. It also came with a few crisy egg rolls on the side. Because we were craving nems, or egg rolls, we ordered an appetizer portion as well. They were especially fun to eat rolled with fresh cilantro and mint in a lettuce leaf and dipped in some sauce! Despite my poor chopstick skills, I managed to eat my fill.After lunch, we walked down to the huge grocer called Tang Frères. This place had everything! We purchased 2 huge mangos, 2 big, ripe avocados, some red chilis, good soy sauce, dumpling wrappers, and yellow chives. It was so fun to have access to all these great ingredients missing from normal supermarkets. Oh, the mangos! They were so good! And so cheap!

Exhausted from our exploits, we left the store only to be tempted once more. Outside the market, there was a little stand selling sugar cane juice and coconut milk. We bought a big coconut with a straw in it and sat happily slurping the sweet juice before hopping on the metro to come home.
A few nights ago we finally got to use the dumpling wrappers that we bought at Tang Frères. Thanks to our friend Ku, Paul and I learned how to make a mean pork dumpling. We boiled the dumplings until done and dipped them in a spicy soy sauce spiked with garlic and chili. They were out of this world! We also fried/boiled the last batch as you would for potstickers, which I think I preferred. You can also steam them, but I have yet to try that.

Ku's recipe also calls for yellow chives, which I've never seen outside Tang Fr
ères, so I'm sure you could substitute green onion, leek, or shredded cabbage. This is a simple recipe, so use good quality soy sauce and sesame oil, and definitely make the dipping sauce!Ku's Pork Dumplings

1 pkg wonton/dumpling wrappers

Pork Filling:
600 g (1 lb) ground pork
1 cup yellow chives, chopped
2 Tbsp chopped garlic
3-4 Tbsp soy sauce
1-2 Tbsp sesame oil
ground black pepper
(I also added 1 Tbsp minced ginger, optional)

Spicy Soy-Garlic Sauce:
2 Tbsp chopped garlic
2-3 small red chilis, thinly sliced
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 Tbsp sesame oil

Combine all the ingredients for the filling in the bowl. Mix the pork filling until very smooth. In a separate bowl, combine all the dipping sauce ingredients and set aside.

Fill a small bowl with water. This will be the glue to seal the dumplings. Take one dumpling wrapper, dip one finger into the water and wet the edges of the wrapper completely. Place a tablespoon of pork filling into the middle of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper over the filling in a half moon shape, pressing all of the air out from the middle of the dumpling to the edges. Pleat the edges of the dough firmly to seal it completely. Repeat for each dumpling. You should fill 28-32 dumplings with this amount of filling, serving about 3 people as a main course.

To boil the dumplings
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the dumplings and stir them so they do not stick together. Bring the water back to a boil.
2. The dumplings will float to the top and when this happens, add 1/2 cup of cold water to the pot. This will slow down the cooking so that the wrapper won't cook before the pork has the chance.
3. Wait for the water to come back to a boil and, once again, add 1/2 cup of cold water.
4. Bring the water back to a boil again and once the dumplings are floating, remove one to check if they are done. If so, remove them from the water with a slotted spoon and set aside. If not, add another 1/2 cup water and wait for it to boil again. Repeat with the remaining dumplings.

To make potstickers,
1. Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil to a hot nonstick pan. Place enough dumplings in the pan to form a single layer, but without the dumplings touching.
2. Pour 1/2 cup of water in the pan, cover it, and let them cook (without peeking!) on low for about 10 minutes, or until all the water is gone.
3. The dumplings should be brown and crisp on the bottom, but if not, let them cook a few minutes more.

Restaurant Lao-Lane Xang

105 avenue d'Ivry

75013 Paris

01 45 85 19 23

Tang Frères
48 avenue d'Ivry

75013 Paris
01 45 70 80 00


Tanna said...

This is going on my list of things to do in Paris!!
Your dumplings look beautiful.

Megan said...

Tanna - Thanks! It really is fun and worth a visit! Looking back at the picture of the dumplings I'm a little embarrassed at the fork in there, but we don't own any chopsticks! Oh time!

Stacie said...

Hi Megan,

I found you through Sean's site Hedonia and wanted you to know you are living my dream. I look forward to reading your entire blog. My husband and I spent a little time in Paris last summer and can't wait to return.

Bon Appétit

Lisa said...

The dumplings look and sound fabulous. I have a post in my archives ("In Ming Ming's Kitchen") about potstickers. A coworker friend had me over to her house and taught me how to make them. She also used chives -- she called them Chinese chives -- and pork. And she made the dough for the wrappers from scratch, rolling it out into fifty perfect circles in no time. It was quite impressive and the dumplings were delish.

Megan, by the way, I'm organizing an "event" to celebrate Julia Child's birthday next week. I have a post up about it today on Champaign Taste, if you're interested. You being in France and all, it would be perfect if you participated! But no pressure. :)

Melissa said...

Yum! I'm bookmarking the recipe and planning a trip to Tang Freres as soon as I return from dropping my son off to college!
Great post, Megan!

Florian said...

Nice post. I usually go to Vitry sur Seine by car - there's an even larger supermarket of Tang Frères than that one in Ivry (Chinatown).