When I got out of the tram at Alexanderplatz there was nobody. The only other people around seemed to be two police agents sitting in their car overlooking the square. A weird sensation, being all alone in a place that is usually buzzing with life. But for once, the pandemic was probably not the main cause of this emptiness. It was a weeknight, around 9pm, and -7 degrees celcius with a windchill making it feel like below -10 degrees. I had decided to go for an evening walk from Alexanderplatz, via the Berlin Cathedral to the Brandenburger Gate. It’s the typical tourist route where, even though it’s a nice walk, I usually don’t go very often. But on this cold evening, there was snow. And the first time I saw real snow in Berlin. So of course I had to go see Berlin’s landmarks in the snow.
Braving the cold turned out to be totally worth it. There is something magical in seeing a baroque building like the Berlin Cathedral covered in snow, with the streetlights in an otherwise dark city reflecting on the white carpet and nobody else around. An experience that does not come around often. I walked the 1.5 km stretch to the Brandenburger Gate where the feeling was pretty much the same.
But after this, it was time to go home again and warm up. And when temperatures are this low, what is better than some proper comfort food to become warm and cozy again? For me, noodles and dumplings in any form, shape and style are the ultimate type of comfort food. And those savoury dumplings with a spicy orange sauce are no exception.
Pork and cabbage dumplings with orange sauce
For this recipe, I usually prepare my own dumpling wrappers. Another very good option is of course to buy pre-made wonton wrappers that you can usually find in any Asian grocery store.
Ingredients (for two large or three small portions)
- Pork mince – 150 grams
- White cabbage – 150 grams
- Rice vinegar or lemon juice – 3 teaspoons
- Ginger – piece of about 1.5 cm
- Five spices powder – 2 heaped teaspoons
- Soy sauce – 2 tablespoons
- Flour – 150 grams plus a bit extra for dusting
Sauce and garnish
- 2 cloves of garlic
- Sesame oil
- 3 oranges
- 1 red chilli
- Honey – 1.5 teaspoon
- Flour – 1 teaspoon
- 2 spring onions
- Toasted sesame seeds – 2 tablespoons
First of all, start on the preparation of the dumpling filling. Grate the white cabbage on a coarse grater. Place in a bowl and add the rice vinegar. Mix well and set aside. In another bowl, mix the pork mince with the five spice powder and the soy sauce. Grate the ginger on a fine grater and add to the pork mince as well.
Next, unless you are using ready made wrappers, prepare the dough for the dumpling wrappers. Mix the flour with a pinch of salt and approximately 75 ml warm water. Knead well until the dough is elastic and does not stick to your hands anymore. If the dough is too dry or too sticky, respectively add some extra water or flour.
Cover the dough and set it aside to rest while you prepare the ingredients for the sauce and garnish. Very finely chop the garlic and the red chilli. Depending on the level of spiciness you prefer, discard (part of) the seeds of the chilli pepper or leave them in for more spice. Press the juice out of the oranges. And finally, thinly slice the spring onions.
Now is the time to prepare and fold the dumplings. Mix the cabbage and the pork mince together. Divide the dough in 3 pieces and start by rolling the first piece out very thinly, until the thickness is about 1 mm. Cut the sheet of dough into squares with sides of around 7 cm. Place a good teaspoon of the pork and cabbage mixture in the middle of each square. Per square, fold it over into a triangle shape. Press the edges together well to seal them. Then, take the lowest two corners of the triangle and fold them over each other. Press them together so that the shape holds together. Place the folded dumpling onto a surface dusted with flour. Repeat the same process with all squares of dough. Roll out the other two pieces of dough and do the same.
Once all the dumplings have been folded, place a large pot of salted water on the fire and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat a splash of sesame oil over a low fire and add the garlic and chilli. Once the garlic becomes fragrant, add the orange juice and turn the fire up to medium. Add a good pinch of salt, the honey and the flour. While stirring, leave this to boil for around 8 minutes until you obtain a sticky sauce. Taste to make sure the seasoning is right.
Meanwhile the water should be boiling as well. Add the dumplings, if needed in portions, and boil for 3 minutes. Divide the dumplings over 2 plates and pour the orange sauce over. Garnish with the spring onion and the toasted sesame seeds.