I’m obsessed with ramen. I don’t know how it started, but I’ve been tasting ramen all over Chicago to figure out where to get the best noodles. At Yusho, they devote Sunday to serving ramen — I had the beef tongue ramen — which is pretty good, but it didn’t wow me like I wanted. The Trencherman’s brunch ramen did the same for me — good, but not worthy of “wow.”
Then I found Oiistar. Wow. This is the ramen they serve in heaven. I had the Oiimen ramen. It’s so good that I requested it for my post-marathon meal. I want to duplicate this. I want to have it in my home on demand. The menu says it’s made up of pork belly, egg, scallion, tree-ear mushroom, spicy oil and garlic. I went so far as to visit what is allegedly the best Japanese market in the area (in Arlington Heights) to pick up the noodles (which are only slightly more fancy than what I ate in college). Sadly, they didn’t have any pork belly or tree-ear mushroom. So I wouldn’t be making the Oiimen ramen. But I did pick up this little gadget (total impulse buy) to press dumplings.
Dumpling wrappers are only made up of flour and water (I had both!) and since I had some leftover scallions that were dangerously close to being inedible, a slowly shriveling chunk of ginger and some breakfast sausage in the freezer leftover from some other recipe I made three months ago, I decided I could cobble together an experimental dumpling. This is what I came up with:
- 2 cups flour
- ¾ cup boiling water
Put the flour in a bowl. Slowly add the water while mixing it together with a set of chopsticks.
When the mixture is cool enough to touch, start kneading it with your hands. When a nice dough forms, wrap it in plastic and set aside for 20 minutes or so while you put together the filling.
- ¾ lb Bob Evans pork breakfast sausage (I’m not ashamed)
- 3 old scallions, trimmed of wilting parts and minced
- 1 TB wrinkly, old ginger that’s been sitting around for almost too long, minced
- 2 pinches of sugar
Mix all the ingredients together with your hands until the ginger and scallions have been evenly distributed. Set aside.
Now, the fun part. Tear off a piece of the dough — enough to make a ball that’s about 1” in diameter. Squish it down and then roll it with a rolling pin to make a thin disc about 2” in diameter.
Lay it on the dumpling press. Spoon about two teaspoons of pork filling into the center. Brush the edges with a little water. Fold over the press and… voila! You have a dumpling.
I put the finished products in the freezer about an hour before cooking. This makes about 40 dumplings. How did I know that there would be enough filling for the dough, you might ask. I might answer: magic. Actually, that was total dumb luck. And I’m passing that luck on to you.
For serving, I brought a small pot of water to a boil. I dumped in about six dumplings and let them cook for six minutes. Then I threw them in a hot pan with a tablespoon of vegetable oil and browned them on each side.
I ate it with my fancy ramen and kale sauteed with the dumpling dipping sauce (one part sugar, two parts soy sauce).
These were really fantastic. FANTASTIC.
This is a big project, but if you have the time to make them ahead of a fun meal and you have a dumpling press, IT’S TOTALLY WORTH IT. Also, uncooked, they freeze really well.
Now I must finish deconstructing and reconstructing Oiimen ramen.