Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Tibetan Momos: New York Times recipe review

A few weeks ago the New York Times published an interesting food story about sha momos, the dumpling that traditionally accompanies the celebration of the Tibetan New Year. Momas are usually filled with Yak meat or beef and are perfumed with notes of ginger, cilantro and garlic. They are steamed dumplings known for their juiciness. In a nutshell, Tibetan comfort food at it's finest.
Fortunately, the article was followed by a recipe for said delicacy, which my sister Lindsey promptly concocted. I was lucky enough to be in the kitchen with her and watch this savory treat come to life. I recorded it for you here and reproduced the recipe as a visual how-to below. Enjoy! -hil

recipe adapted from the New York Times

you will need:

1 pound ground or finely chopped beef, about 85 percent lean
1/2 cup minced onion
1/2 cup minced cilantro stems
3 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
About 48 round dumpling or gyoza wrappers (about 3 1/4 inches wide)
Sepen (see recipe) or other hot sauce or soy sauce, for serving.
*note: You also need a steaming rack to stick in a shallow pan and a lid to cover that.

1. Make the filling: In a bowl, combine the beef, onion, cilantro, ginger, oil, garlic, salt and 2 tablespoons of water. Using your hands or a spoon, mix lightly but well. Set aside, from 30 minutes to 2 hours, to develop the flavors. 
Linds chops cilantro stems to go in the filling.

The filling with everything combined. Time for the wrappers!

2. Make the dumplings: Lay 6 wrappers out on a work surface. Spoon about 2 teaspoons of filling onto the upper half of each wrapper. With a damp cloth, lightly moisten the edges of each wrapper and fold up and over the filling into a half-moon, gently pressing the edges to seal. To pleat the sealed edges, start at one tip of the half-moon and make small folds in the dough, pressing them flat as you work your way along the edge. There should be space for about 7 folds. Place finished dumplings on a nonstick surface and cover lightly with damp paper towels. Refrigerate if not cooking immediately.

Linds pleats one side of the dumpling...

...and finishes by pleating the other one towards the center. This part took a little practice at first.

3. When ready to cook, boil water in the bottom of a large steamer. Spray the steamer tray lightly with nonstick spray and gently add the dumplings, making sure they do not touch. Steam in batches for 10 minutes, until the wrappers are slightly translucent, and serve immediately.
Linds had a compatible steamer wich she fanned out and set in the pan with boiling water. Be careful not to burn yourself with the steam!

Cover the dumplings and let the steam do it's thing.

This is what they'll look like when cooked: slightly translucent.

We used rubber tongs to remove them; careful, the skin can be quite fragile.

Bon App├ętit! I know the directions say to eat them immediately, but we put them in a tortilla warmer while we prepared the others in batches. So good and so filling! After 2 I was very full, which I didn't expect. Overall this was a time consuming but delicious recipe. The flavors have a freshness to them that isn't as common in american cooking. We used Gyoza sauce for dipping instead of chili sauce, which helped to add a little more saltiness. Here is the recipe's instructions on how to eat them:
4. To eat, spoon a dab of sauce onto a small plate. Pick up a dumpling and bite off one end; do not let the juice spill out. Carefully suck out the juice, then eat the rest in bites, dipping it into the sauce.

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