Taste Canada: Custard Dumplings from East Meets West

Excerpted from East Meets West: Traditional and Contemporary Asian Dishes from Acclaimed Vancouver Restaurants by Stephanie Yuen. Published by Douglas & McIntyre. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. Photography by John Sherlock. All rights reserved.

Custard Dumplings
CustardDumplings-300.jpgChef Alan Yip • Northern Delicacy
Makes 20 to 24 dumplings

4 Tbsp butter
1 large egg
4 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp + 1 tsp custard powder
½ tsp vanilla extract
4 Tbsp white sugar
1 cup wheat starch
9 Tbsp glutinous rice flour
2 Tbsp cornstarch

This European-influenced custard filling will remind coconut bun lovers of the intricate texture of that dish's sugary filling. The custard in this recipe needs to be refrigerated for 2 hours before it's used to stuff the dumplings. However, you can prepare this dish ahead of time: stuffed but uncooked dumplings can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 7 days. Serve this dish as a dessert as Northern Delicacy does, or eat it as a snack if you prefer.

In a food processor, blend butter, egg, all-purpose flour, 2 Tbsp custard powder, vanilla and sugar on high for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the mixture becomes a yolky paste. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for 2 hours. This is the custard filling.

In a large bowl, combine wheat and rice flours, cornstarch and the 1 tsp custard powder until well mixed. Slowly add 1 cup boiling water and, using a whisk, mix until all ingredients are combined. Allow to cool for 15 to 20 minutes. Knead dough for about 10 minutes until smooth. Divide the dough in half and roll into 2 balls, covering them with a damp tea towel so that the dough does not dry out.

Place ¼ cup cold water in a small bowl. Lightly dust a clean work surface with flour. Place one ball of dough on the work surface and, using a rolling pin, roll to a thickness of 1/16 inch. With a 3-inch round dough cutter (or an inverted glass), cut 10 to 12 circles.

Lightly dust a baking sheet with flour. One at a time, place a round of dough in front of you and mound 1 Tbsp custard filling in the centre. Dip your index finger in the bowl of cold water, then run it around the edge of the dough to moisten. Fold the bottom half of the dough over the filling to make a half-moon shape. Press the edges together gently to seal them. Transfer the filled dumpling to the baking sheet and cover with a clean tea towel. Repeat with the remaining dough rounds and filling, then roll out the second ball of dough, cut 10 to 12 more rounds and fill them with custard.

Bring 3 cups water to a boil in a 12-inch wok or a saucepan on high heat.

Line a 10-inch bamboo steamer with an 8-inch round waxed-paper doily. (Alternatively, just line the bamboo steamer with a sheet of parchment paper.) Place dumplings on the doily with ½ inch space between them -- you should be able to fit on 6 to 8 dumplings. Place the bamboo steamer in the wok (or pot), cover and steam for 10 to 12 minutes, or until dumplings are cooked through.  (The dumplings are ready when a knife inserted in the dough comes out easily and the dough becomes creamy yellow.) Remove the steamer from the heat and allow dumplings to cool for 3 to 5 minutes. Repeat, using a new doily each time, until all dumplings are steamed. Serve hot.