Sydney Cooking School: DYI Dumpling Cooking Class and Recipe
As soon as we arrived in Sydney (and even before) I was looking for cooking classes teaching Asian cuisine. I was interested in Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Malaysian, whatever I could find. From watching hours of Masterchef Australia I knew that there is a major Asian influence on Australian cooking, likely because of the proximity to South East Asia. From watching the show it seemed like almost everyone knows how to cook Asian food or at least knowledgeable about Asian dishes and cooking ingredients. When we arrived we found that even the non-Asian restaurants we have been too had noticeable use of Asian ingredients in their dishes.
There were classes for seafood, BBQ, Italian, French or baking but perhaps because of the time of year (December) not many were available at the time and I could not find any Asian cooking classes. Finally I found a dumpling class offered by the Sydney Cooking School but the class was full. I spoke with the administrator and left my information asking to be contacted should space becomes available.
Two days before the class we were exploring Chinatown when I got an email from the school saying one space became available, would I be interested. I jumped on it immediately, paid the tuition over the phone, cancelled a day trip scheduled for that day and was excited about the opportunity to learn how to make Chinese dumplings.
Sydney Cooking School, located in North Sydney in Neutral Bay, offers a range of cooking classes in their three hands-on kitchens: green, purple and BBQ. The Green Kitchen, where our class was held, was perfectly set for a DYI class with plenty of good equipment and fun atmosphere. Classes range from various international cuisines to baking, seafood, BBQ classes in the fabulous BBQ kitchen and more. The school’s director is Executive Chef Brett Deverall, head chef is Paul Pereira and the and classes are taught by local chefs according to their specialties.
It was a bit of a trek getting there from Potts Point. We took a train and a bus but left plenty of time to have a “flat white” at Neutral Bay before class started. My husband came along, not to the class but he was going to wander around the area and hopefully find a marina where he could look at boats for a few hours until my class was finished.
We found the school easily right across from where the bus dropped us off and had time for our daily “flat white” at the coffee shop next door. A good start for a fun day.
It turned out that the Dumpling class was a private class organized for a family by a relative visiting from Spain and they were short one person to have the 8 people the school requires, hence my presence there. They were friendly and hospitable and I instantly felt like part of the group.
Our teacher was chef Kentaro Shinobe (Ken T.) who was clear, organized, skilled and made dumpling making look quite doable.
The class was hands on DIY dumpling and we were each given a station along the generous counter space to make our own dumplings. The dough was made by Ken ands then portioned to us for rolling, filling and folding.
Dumpling dough is made from flour, salt and boiling water and if you have made fresh pasta before you can make a dumpling dough. Once kneaded into a smooth ball it needs to rest for 30 minutes, wrapped in plastic and set aside in a quiet spot on the counter. You can attend to the filling while the dough rests.
We made three different fillings and two sauces for our dumplings:
Pork, prawn and cabbage
Scallops and Prawns
Vegetarian filling with cabbage, tofu and shitake mushrooms
The two dipping sauces:
Lime and coriander sauce
Once the dough rested we were each given a portion and following ken, rolled it into logs about 2 cm in diameter which we then cut into 1 cm portions as you would cut gnocchi. If you need flour to roll the dough on the counter use a little cornflour as it will not be absorbed into the dough and change its texture.
Ken used a very short wooden rolling pin to roll out the dumpling dough into a circle, 3 inch diameter. I tried to find these rolling pins to bring home but so far haven’t found any.
Once we made the fillings Ken demonstrated how to fill, fold and seal the dumplings and then we did our best to replicate what he showed, to varying degrees of success. To fill you place a small amount of filling in each round of dumpling dough, wet the edges with water, fold it in half-moon shape and pinch the edges, crimping it decoratively to seal. Easier said than done. We crimped one of them, folded wonton style for the second and made pot stickers with the third (title image). Although our dumplings did not look as precise or refined as his, all were pretty good for first try and delicious once cooked.
We made three Chinese dumplings, one steamed in a bamboo steamer and one boiled in a large pot of water. The third was Chinese pot stickers (or Japanese gyoza) which you first fry in a little oil and then add liquid to finish cooking the filling, letting the water completely evaporate and the bottom crisp again. They were all delicious and I left the class believing I can reproduce them at home when I get back to my kitchen.
Here is Sydney’s Cooking School recipe for vegetarian dumplings, reprinted with their permission.
Vegetarian Shitake-Tofu Dumplings
100 gr strong flour (bread flour)
100 gr all purpose flour
150 ml boiling water
1/2 teaspoon salt
Stir the salt into the flour.
Slowly add boiling water adding only as much as necessary to form a smooth dough.
Knead the dough into a smooth ball, wrap in plastic and let rest for 30 minutes.
When ready, roll the dough into long cylinders, 2 cm in diameter, then cut each into 1 cm pieces.
Roll each piece into 3 inch rounds. Use cornflour on the counter for rolling if needed.
Cover the dough rounds until ready to fill.
1/8 cabbage, shredded
1/2 an onion
1/4 package firm tofu
A pinch of salt
4 shitake mushrooms, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cm piece of ginger, grated
Mince all the ingredients and combine in a bowl.
50 mg sake
50 ml mirin
50 ml soy sauce
Juice of one lemon
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
Hot pepper (chilli) flakes optional
Place sake, mirin and soy sauce in a small pot and bring to a boil.
Remove from heat and add lemon juice and rice vinegar and optional chilli flakes.
Place a small portion of filling into a round of dough.
Wet the edges with a little water.
Fold the dough over the filling into half moon shape and pinch the edges decoratively to seal. There are a lot of you tube videos demonstrating the precise method of folding.
To cook bring a large pot of water to a boil.
Add half the dumplings, stirring them gently for a few seconds to separate.
Return the water to a boil, add 1/2 cup cold water, cover and bring back to a boil.
The dumplings should be ready when the water boils.
Drain the dumpling and serve with the sauce.
They can also be pan fried at this point.
Contact the Sydney Cooking School for information about classes:
73 Military Road, Neutral Bay NSW 2089
Phone: (02) 8969 6199
Or email direct at firstname.lastname@example.org