Polish Dumplings – Whip It UP!
By Tony Boey
It’s Polish at heart but cooked the Chinese way. These are Silesian dumplings, a culinary heritage of Poland that has been passed down the generations. They bear such a remarkable semblance to Hakka abacus seeds (suan pan zi) that one can’t help thinking if Marco Polo might have brought them back to Venice? Unlike the Hakka yam-based dumplings, the Silesian pillows use potato, rendering them sweeter and tender with a slight spring to the bite. Tony gives this Polish specialty an Asian spin with umami-packed flavours.
Total Time: 40 minutes
Cost: < S$12.00
Serves: 2-3 persons
A: Dumpling Dough
600g potatoes, skin on, washed
150g potato starch
½ teaspoon salt
B: To Boil Dumplings
3 litres water
1 teaspoon salt
C: To Stirfry Dumplings
2 tablespoons oil
5 cloves garlic, peeled & sliced
50g dried shrimp, soaked
20 dried small Shiitake mushrooms, soaked & sliced
200g chicken breast, diced
1 piece firm beancurd, cut into strips
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1. Bring 2 litres of water to rolling boil in a deep saucepan. Add potatoes and salt.
Cook until potato yield to the fork. Drain, peel and mash potatoes while they are still warm.
2. Transfer mash to a large mixing bowl. Add potato starch, mix in egg and salt to form a dough, similar to pizza.
3. To cook dumplings: pinch off pieces of dough the size of ping pong or golf ball. Roll it between your palms. Repeat until all the dough is used up.
4. Flatten each ball between your palms. Make a dimple with your thumb or index finger. It can be deep but do not make a hole which would turn it into a doughnut!
Repeat until dough is used up. Set aside dumplings and let them air dry until cooking time.
5. To cook dumplings: Bring 3 litres of water to a rolling boil with salt. Once 20 dumplings are formed, drop them into the water. Do not overcrowd the saucepan with too many dumplings.
Cook for 2 minutes.
If any dumplings stick to the bottom of the saucepan, use a spatula to release them with a gentle nudge. Repeat until all the dumplings are cooked.
6. Taste one dumpling to check if it is done. It should be firm but tender with a slight bounce. Texture is just slightly firmer than a marshmallow. If it is too dry, add a little water to get the desired texture. On the other hand, add more potato starch if it is too moist.
7. Using a slotted spoon or wire mesh skimmer, remove cooked dumplings. Using a colander, drain them. These potato “abacus seeds” taste good as it is.
8. To stir-fry dumplings: Heat up oil. Sauté garlic slices and dried shrimps until fragrant.
9. Next, add in tofu followed by mushroom. Lastly, add chicken and cook until meat is tender, around 3 minutes.
10. Add in dumplings and mix well. Transfer to serving plate.
Other recipes call for pork, dried cuttlefish, black fungus, dried white bait, spring onion etc but there are no hard and fast rules; just use what is available.
NOTES: Kopytka, Silesian dumplings closely resemble the Hakka abacus seeds, hence the possibilities of fusion are limitless. It is commonly served with roast and gravy at family dinners. In fact, they have become obligatory at weddings and holiday meals. Similarly, Hakka abacus (shaped like discs found on the Chinese calculator) is often eaten during festive celebrations like Chinese New Year as it symbolises wealth.
TECHNIQUE: Texture of dough should be like modelling clay, pliable and not sticky. To adjust dumpling texture, tweak mashed potato to potato starch ratio. More starch equals chewy bounce but less potato flavour. The ratio of potato mash to potato starch is 4:1.
Photos: Tony Boey
ABOUT Tony Boey: Better known by his moniker, “Johor Kaki”, is a highly respected independent blogger in both the hospitality and food networks. In 2012, he founded Johorkaki.blogspot.com and bagged the coveted ‘Best Food Blog’ award for two consecutive years: 2013 (Malaysia and Singapore) and 2014 (Singapore). He has also authored a guidebook on street food in Johor, Malaysia.