Pleat Me and Treat Me
Ah, kanom jeeb – you have officially earned platinum status in the dumpling ranks. You are a mere morsel of goodness, a two-bite treasure, and I thank you for gracing me with your presence. Jam from the wonderful food blog “Thai Cooking with Jam” explains that your name is derived from the thai words for “pleated snack”, but I posit that you legally change your name to the thai words for “pleated awesomeness”. Awesomeness indeed.
I know that you are a textural delight with your essential combination of crunchy carrots and water chestnuts carefully blended with tender shrimp and pork. You are also a luxurious treat with your delicate topper of lump crab. And yet, you don’t mind dressing yourself down on certain days with a crispy shallot or two. You are similiar to your Chinese brother, shu mai, and yet your combo of sweet and savory taste worlds away at times.
I love you for your simplicity in preparation – no rolling of dough or advanced pinching. No overfilling or fussiness. Just a pack of pre-made wonton wrappers and a flour dusted cookie sheet and we’re in business. And you never keep me waiting – only a mere 6 minutes in the steamer and it’s time to nosh. You are so damn cool.
Kanom jeeb, I salute you. And now I want all my friends to take a crack at making you at home. Because you show us all that deliciousness couldn’t be simpler.
Kanom Jeeb (Steamed Thai Dumplings)
1 lb. of ground pork
12 oz. of crab meat (optional)
3/4 lb. of raw shrimp, minced
4 tbs. of minced carrot
4 tbs. of minced straw mushrooms (or wood ear mushrooms)
1/2 of a shallot, minced
8 oz. of water chestnuts, finely diced
4 tbs. of corn starch
2 tbs. of fish sauce (nuoc mam)
1 tbs of soy sauce
1 tsp of salt
2 tsp of white pepper
1/4 tsp. of fresh ginger, minced or microplaned
2 tsp. of sugar
1/2 c. of water
8 oz. of chicken boullion
4 oz. of lump crabmeat (optional)
Mix all ingredients (except wrappers, reserved lump crabmeat and cabbage) in a bowl, stirring well. Add tablespoon sized portions of the filling to the wrapper and gently bring the points of the wrapper all to the center of the dumpling. The filling should hold the points in place. Set the dumpling down on a lightly-floured baking sheet. Top the dumpling with a lump of crabmeat. Continue filling all of the dumplings.
Line a steamer (bamboo works well) with napa cabbage leaves. This will prevent the dumplings from sticking and from messing up your steamer. Bring the water under the steamer to a boil. Place dumplings into the steamer, making sure that they do not touch. Put the steamer basket over the water and steam for around 6-8 minutes, or until the pork is cooked all the way through. Top with fried shallots and cilantro leaves. Serve with sweet soy dipping sauce.
Crispy Fried Shallots
2 shallots, thinly sliced and separated into rings
2 tbs. of flour
salt and white pepper
2 c. of oil
Toss all ingredients except for oil until shallot rings are thoroughly coated. Shake rings of excess flour and fry in batches in the hot oil until golden, about 1-2 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Serve as garnish for kanom jeeb.