Category Archives: Lunch

Homemade Dumplings

“Happiness is homemade”

– Unknown

It’s pretty exciting to make your own dumplings from scratch at home. You can be very creative with the dumpling fillings, from traditional pork, chicken, shrimp, cabbage, bok choy to things like kimchi, bamboo shoots, tomatoes, corns, eggs and diced fresh or dried shiitake mushrooms…

Since its Sunday and need to go back to work tomorrow, I am just gonna go with my personal favorite -easy breezy version: Pork mince and cabbage filling with ginger, garlic and diced shiitake mushrooms.

It takes time to make dumplings from scratch, from dumpling wrappers to putting dumpling fillings then to making intricate pleats into your dumplings, so that they look awesome and also keep them from falling apart during cooking.

Homemade dumplings

prep time: 2-3 hrs| cook time: 15-20 mins | makes approx 60

I followed Maangchi’s recipe to make the dumpling wrappers.


  • 1 pound finely chopped cabbage
  • 1 pound ground pork shoulder, finely chopped into mince (tastes better to chop into mince, however you can also use minced pork)
  • 3 scallions, finely chopped
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1-2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • Salt and white pepper, season to taste

Let’s begin:

  1. Combine cabbage and 2 teaspoons salt in a large bowl and toss to combine, then set aside for 10-15 minutes.  Transfer them to a fine mesh strainer and set it over the bowl.
  2. Best to take handfuls and wring out as much excess moisture as possible before mixing with rest of the ingredients. Discard the liquid.
  3. Combine pork, drained cabbage,  salt, white pepper, garlic, ginger, scallions,  sesame oil, soy sauce, egg and sugar in a large bowl and knead and turn with a big spoon or clean hands until the mixture starting to feel sticky.
  4. Set yourself up in a spacious work area with the dumpling wrappers, a little bowl of water. Grab a few happy helpers to do the dumpling folding (I grabbed my mum and my younger sister, better to put on some pleasant & relaxing music, as this going to take a while).
  5. Place about 1 tablespoon filling in the center of each wrapper. Dip your fingertip in the water and trace the outside edge of the wrapper with water. Working from one side, carefully seal the filling inside the wrapper by folding it into a crescent shape, pleating in edge as it meets the other.
  6. Transfer finished dumplings to the parchment lined baking sheet or clean plate with dusted flour so that they don’t stick together. Freeze dumplings for at least 30 minutes then transfer to a zipper-lock freezer bag for long-term storage.
  7. To cook: you can either boil, steam, pan-fried or steam fried them and be creative with your dipping sauce (I normally just combine vinegar, soy sauce, and chili oil).

Coq Au Vin

“A recipe has no soul. You as the cook must bring soul to the recipe”

– Julia Child 

I remember it was on a cold rainy day and we just learnt that there would be a restructure thing happening soon, my colleague/dear lunch buddy took me to this cute little cafe in Auckland City Central for lunch. She said her husband took her there the weekend before, she enjoyed the food and the cozy atmosphere.

There wasn’t really much choice on the menu and we were both drawn to this “mysterious dish” with the description of “rooster in red wine sauce with crunchy bread” –  I wasn’t even sure if we said the name correctly but it seems like a perfect dish for the mood and the weather…and it was absolutely outstanding! The little cozy cafe instantly become our regular lunch go to place, till the restructure took place and we both relocated to a different location.

On a personal level, this is a dish with lots of fond memories, therefore I had mixed feelings when you told me you were feeling nostalgic and revisited the place but found out they no longer have this on the menu. So I secretly made it a mission to “recreate the taste” someday in order to preserve our memories.

prep time: 20 mins | cook time: 1.5 – 2 hrs | makes 2


  • 5 chicken drumsticks
  • half pack of good bacon, diced
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup brandy or whisky (Helps to add more depth to the taste)
  • 1.5 tablespoons tomato paste (my favorite: extra garlic flavor)
  • 1 pound of mixed white button mushroom and cremini mushrooms , stems removed and thickly sliced
  • 1/2 bottle of good dry red wine (for example: Burgundy or Pinot Noir)
  • 2 cups of chicken stock
  • 1.5 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour (I only had high grade, therefore used it instead)
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 bayleaves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Parsley for garnish

Let’s begin:

  1. Season the chicken drumsticks with salt and pepper,
  2. In a large frying pan add bacon and cook over medium heat in the olive oil until lightly brown, then remove bacon from pan.
  3. In the same frying pan, put in garlic and onions, cook over medium heat till soft; then remove onions from pan and do the same for mushrooms, and carrots. Remove all vegetables to a plate.
  4. In the same frying pan, brown the chicken pieces in batches in a single layer for about 5 minutes, turning to brown evenly.
  5. Add the brandy or whisky in chicken, put in bacon, tomato paste, all vegetables except mushrooms  and any juices that collected on the plate into the pot. Then add the wine, chicken stock, thyme, bay leaves and bring to a simmer.
  6. Cover pot, and cook with low heat for 1.5 – 2hrs until the chicken are nice and tender.
  7. Mix together the flour with just a bit of cold water and butter to the stew, add mushrooms into the pot and whisk the flour mixture into the red wine sauce until desired consistency.
  8. Season to taste, sprinkle the parsley over the plate, serve hot with toasted country bread and salad on the side.

Bon appetit!