This xiao chi (little dish, or snack) hails from Chengdu, Sichuan, where years ago I also fell in love with the street food. As Fuschia Dunlop will tell you in her excellent book Land of Plenty, there is a famous restaurant in the city, Long Chao Shou, purveying chao shou in several variations, (and hundreds of other Chengdu specialties), including these dumplings in a clear broth, and in a hot and sour soup. Hong you chao shou translates literally as something like “red oil folded hands,” and with some imagination, one might see these hun tun (won ton) dumplings swathed in fragrant chili oil as such. The variations in folding these dumplings, and different sauces and broths in which it is served, make this snack almost generic, but universally appreciated around the province. The current recipe is not so different than another Sichuanese dumpling, hong you shui jiao (literally, “red oil water dumpling”): except that, the chao shou, as is traditional with a hun tun, has a far more delicate skin and filling.
10 oz pork (at least 20% fat)Dough:
1/4 cup water (for “ginger water”)
1” x 3” pc ginger (for “ginger water”)
1 small egg, beaten
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp rice wine or dry sherry
1/3 or so salt
1/4 cup of pork or chicken stock
8 oz bread flour (plus 1/2 cup or more to knead in)Sauce (per bowl):
1 small egg, beaten
1/2 cup cold water
Garnish (per bowl):
1 Tab chili oil (See recipe for hong you)
2 tsp light soy sauce
1 round tsp sugar
2 tsp chicken or pork stock
1 clove garlic, finely mincedTo make the dough:
1 tsp chili oil
1 tsp sesame oil
Sprig of cilantro
Dash of roasted, ground Sichuan Peppercorn (hua jiao) if desired
Combine the beaten egg and water and add to the flour, combining it a little at a time, until a rough ball of dough forms. Knead the dough thoroughly, adding the extra flour as you go to keep it from sticking to your hands. When the dough is very smooth and stretchable, cover with a damp towel or plastic, set aside to rest for an hour or overnight.
To make the filling:
Crush the piece of ginger and combine it with the water, squeezing the pulp to extract the juice, and set aside.
Wash and dry the pork. Mince very fine, then, using the blunt edge a large cleaver, pound the meat on a cutting board, turning it as you do so, until it is an even paste. Pick out and discard any obvious strands of gristle or tendon.
Combine the meat in a bowl with ginger water, the egg, sesame oil, rice wine, white pepper, and salt. Stir mixture thoroughly in one direction until all the liquids are absorbed. While continuing to stir vigorously, add the stock a little at a time, allowing the meat to absorb the liquid before continuing. If the mixture seems too wet to hold its shape on a spoon, allow the filling to rest in the refrigerator and try again, until the mixture is shiny, smooth and fragrant. Refrigerate until ready to use.
To make the wrappers:
Divide the dough into 2 or 3 pieces, keeping the unused portions under a damp cloth or plastic. Stretch the dough piece into a rope about 5/8” diameter, then, using a generous amount of flour, roll it into a flat sheet until it is very thin. It is necessary to dust the sheet with flour and turn it over, to prevent it sticking to your tools. The thin sheet should be slightly translucent, about the thickness of two playing cards, and at least 3” wide. The length is not important. Trim the strip so that it is an even 3” wide, and cut it into as many 3” squares as the sheet allows, reserving the scraps with the other dough. If the squares are well dusted, you can continue to make 3” squares until all the dough is used.
To make the dumplings:
A common serving of chao shou would be 4 or 5 dumplings. Just before cooking and serving the chao shou, in a bowl, combine all the sauce ingredients for as many servings as you need, and set aside. For the garnish, finely mince the garlic and mix together with oils and set aside.
Boil the dumplings in a large stock pot of boiling water for 2-1/2 to 3 minutes. Retrieve with bamboo strainer and place 4 or 5 dumplings in each serving bowl. After stirring thoroughly, apportion the sauce over the top of the dumplings; likewise the garlic and oil garnish, sprig of cilantro and peppercorn, if desired.