Brandon Jew, Chef-Owner of the award-winning Cantonese-style restaurant, Mister Jiu’s, in San Francisco’s Chinatown is known for his gorgeous rainbow-colored dumplings. The cooks there make so many dumplings for the restaurant’s modern Chinese menu that there is an entire room dedicated to dumpling making. But, growing up, Jew made dumpling at home with his family as a way to spend time together while also feeding a crowd. We sat down with Jew to get his tips on throwing a Chinese dumpling-making party that’s equal parts hard work and plenty of fun.
“Have your filling pre-made, your wrappers in front of you, and little spoons and chopsticks ready.” Mise en place, the process of having all your ingredients prepared and organized and set in order, is how professional chefs are able to cook quickly and consistently. This technique is especially important for making lots of dumplings.
The More The Merrier
“You definitely need more than one person with you to make dumplings,” Jew says, adding that, “It’s one of those things where you gossip and make dumplings together. You catch up with each other.”
Patience is a Virtue Even with Dumplings
“Try to be patient because it takes a lot of muscle memory and repetition to add just the right amount of filling and then seal each dumpling,” he says. Pro Tip: Don’t overstuff your dumplings because they won’t seal properly.
Experiment with Fillings
“The traditional combination of pork and shrimp are tried-and-true, but this is a great opportunity to use extra meat you may have leftover from last night’s dinner. For example, if you have ground beef, you shouldn’t be scared to adapt a recipe to use the excess ground beef in the dumpling.”
It’s All About the Sauce
“The good thing about a dumpling party is the chance to use a variety of sauces.” I like dumplings in soup,” he says, “but I also like them plain with just black vinegar and ginger. Have a lot of diverse toppings and sauces — and applications such as in soup or rice — to complement them makes it fun. The one thing about Chinese food that I’ve always appreciated is that it’s made for groups, but it’s also a very individual process to find the right combination.”
Don’t Forget the Tunes
“I like playing music with a consistent tempo at Mister Jiu’s. Sometimes it’s music that reminds me of junior high or high school, but it’s always music that makes me happy. I like to play everything from The Ramones to Parliament and James Brown.”
Don’t Forget the Tea (or Beer)
“I like to serve dumplings with a variety of tea, but I really like puerh and lapsang (smoked tea). Often, more tannic teas pair better with richer foods. But with lighter foods, such as fish, it’s nice to serve teas that are more floral. As far as alcohol, Chinese food is really good with beer. Lager, pilsner, maybe an ale at the most hearty.”