The topic sounds disgusting, right? People may want to ask what the heck I am talking about. Food waste, one of the world’s most serious problems, is on the headline today. However, in this post, the term “food waste” refers to parts of plants or animals that no one consumes and disposed straight away. In this context, I will talk about the leaves of fennel. In most Western cuisines, the fennel bulbs are used in cooked dishes or in salads, but has anyone thought about what happened to the leaves? The Greeks uses them in both fresh and dried forms as spices but not many other cultures actually apply them in anything. However, in the Eastern cuisines, fennel leaves are more towards the spiciness side of the story.
The Chinese uses fennel leaves as the key ingredients in their famed and specialty “fennel and pork dumplings”. The fennel leaves are considered as one of the delicacies in northern Chinese cuisines. We don’t normally see them in the Chinese restaurants in Adelaide. However, in the US, some eateries do make this kind of dumplings. I once read a forum post which discussed about it and got amazed on its taste. If cooked with a good recipe, the dumplings can be moist and full of light spiciness. However, the fennel leaves can dissolve extensive amount of waters and making the dumplings moist is not easy. Oh, btw, someone asked about “dill and pork dumplings” before. To my best knowledge, the Chinese do not use dill in dumplings. I guess it may be the fact that some Chinese restaurant owners can’t recognise the differences between fennel and dill. 😛
I got given these leaves from a Chinese friend who had heaps of fennels in his backyard. First smell, full of star anise on the nose. I tried a tiny amount of the raw leaves and the taste was amazing. On palate, the star anise taste was minimised and instead, a sweet and lolly pop taste developed well. It’s quite astonishing that there’s not much spiciness taste in these leaves. Instead, strong aromatics and a bit sweetness can be tasted. I bet that’s caused by the great Aussie soils 😀 LOL
2 Kg Fennel Leaves
1 Kg Pork mince from the belly
1/2 Spring onion – finely chopped
several slices of ginger – finely chopped
Extra virgin olive oil – 5-6 Table spoon cos fennel leaves love oil, otherwise the dumplings are going to be very dry
Place all of the above, except salt and soy sauce, in a food processor and blend until smooth. Season with soy sauce and salt to taste.
My wife made the dough herself and unfortunately I don’t have a clue on how she did it, but I guess buying them from Asian supermarkets can be an easier way.
Making dumplings are relatively easy, all you need to do is to follow the guide below.
1. take 1 piece of the pastry and place some fillings in the center. Do not overload your dumpling.
2. Fold the pastry in half and close the middle bit. Then use the two hands together to make a full closure.
3. Place the dumplings in a large stew pot with boiling water (2/3 full) and wait until the water reboils for another 3 times until the dumplings are thoroughly cooked.
The finished dumpling are with strong aromas and sweetness in the filling which combined so well with the pork mince. The fillings were full of liquids, drained from the pork and mixed with the oils. Dip with Chinese rice vinegar or any of your favourite Asian sauce. Enjoy.