Life over the past year has been incredibly hectic. It turns out that turning an old bus into a home is a LOT of work. That project ate up 100% of my brainspace for a little over a year. As a result, I didn’t end up spending much time hunting, fishing, foraging, or cooking. Between work and the bus, there just wasn’t time for much else.
But now, 13 months into our conversion, we are in the home stretch. There are a few more things for us to finish, but we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. And there isn’t much more to figure out with the build, so I can start turning my brain back toward finding wild foods and turning it into tasty meals. Here’s one that we put together with some diver ducks that I took out in California on my xmas holiday.
Sometimes recipes pop out perfectly the first time, as if you have always known them. Other times they take a bit more work. This was one of those other times.
We first attempted this recipe back in September, and it was pretty bad. We used diver ducks that we hadn’t properly trimmed, and that created something of a russian roulette situation. Mostly, they were pretty good. But every tenth bite or so, you would get a chunk of super marshy diver duck fat. Needless to say, it was not our favorite. And it took us a few months to get back on the horse. But I am glad we did, because we were able to work out the kinks and now we have the perfect recipe for those much maligned diver ducks.
A couple of keys are to marinate the duck for at least a night and to make sure that you mince all the ingredients really finely, so that all the flavors meld into that perfect dumpling filling.
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 cup water
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp minced ginger
1/2 tbsp sugar
1 lb. diver duck breasts, marinated and minced or ground
2 cups napa cabbage, finely chopped
1 cup shiitake mushrooms (around 4), finely chopped
½ cup green onions, finely chopped
3 tbsp garlic
3 tbsp ginger
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp honey
2 cups flour
3/4 cup hot water (best if just boiled
Pinch of salt
Ponzu sauce for dipping is best, but soy sauce is delicious too.
The duck should marinate overnight. Diver ducks can have an unpleasant marshiness, so be sure to trim as much fat as possible from the breasts. The marinade will cover the rest of the flavors.
You want to marinate the breasts whole and mince them just before use. Combine the marinade ingredients, toss the duck breasts in, and stick the whole thing in the refrigerator for the night.
The dough for the wrappers needs to rest for 30 minutes, so this should be done first. It can also be done well ahead (like the night before) and stored in the fridge.
Add salt to flour in a large mixing bowl. Slowly add water while stirring until well-mixed. Knead the dough briefly to ensure all flour is incorporated. If too dry, add water a few drops at a time.
Once incorporated, transfer the dough to a floured work surface and knead for two minutes.
Wrap in plastic to prevent drying and allow to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. This can also be stored in the fridge overnight.
Mince all ingredients very fine. The best dumpling experience comes when all the flavors meld, so you want to be sure you don’t have large chunks of any of the ingredients. When everything is finely chopped, mix it all together in the appropriate measures in a large bowl.
Roll out your wrappers as thin as you are comfortable with and use a pint glass or rocks glass to cut circles. Spoon about one tablespoon of the filling into each wrapper. Wet one side of the wrapper, fold it up, and pinch it shut.
Steam the dumplings for 8 minutes. Serve with ponzu sauce for dipping.